New 911 system to come to Alabama

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — Alabama is making a large investment in ensuring public safety and supporting the “Next Generation 911” program to advance technology.

When seconds count in emergency situations, like when you call 911, you want the most precise data to get to responders fast, and a new system will help do just that.

“Alabama is unique in history that the first 911 call ever placed in America was placed in Alabama,” said Robert Murphy, the Director of Business Development for DATAMARK. “So that technology that was deployed back in the 50s to drive the first 911 call to a 911 Center is still in place today.”

Next Generation 911 is here to change the game and update the system.

“It really involves a lot of complex systems,” said Murphy. “For this project in particular the state of Alabama has already deployed what they referred to as a state wide ESINET, emergency services IP network, so they’re beginning to replace the backbone of the system.”

Murphy says the state has started replacing copper wiring with fiber so more data can be transferred faster.

He said the next component is GIS data, or physical location data. That’s where DATAMARK comes in.

DATAMARK, the public safety GIS team of Michael Baker International, has been selected by the Alabama 911 Board to deploy Next Generation 911 (NG911) Geographic Information Systems (GIS) data solutions and services across the state.

When you dial 911, your phone connects to a system and tries to send your location.

“Unfortunately the technology that we’re using in today’s environment, it can only send a telephone number and then there’s a code behind it that says Lauren is here,” said Murphy. “So if Lauren is in this geographical region, send a call to this 911 center.”

Next Generation 911 ups the ante.

“Your device has GPS on it right? So you have all this additional information,” he adds. “It’s trying to send all that information through the system to the 911 center so that the 911 call taker has the ability to identify… Lauren is sitting here, at this house, and in a lot of cases, in this part of the house.”

The new system will help people in emergency situations who may not be able to explain a specific location.

Murphy says the most important thing for 911 dispatchers to understand immediately is the location of the emergency.

Alabama is one of the first state’s to begin implementing the new technology.

“The things that are happening in Alabama from a public safety, 911 perspective, they are leading,” said Murphy.

With Next Generation 911, responders will have better data to make better decisions to get to emergencies faster, especially when seconds count.

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