Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Durham’s Next Generation 9-1-1 Installation Complete

Durham residents now have a new sophisticated way to report emergencies to the 9-1-1 center.

The Durham Emergency Communications Center is now one of the few next generation 9-1-1 (NG9-1-1) systems in the country, laying the groundwork to enable it to accept text, images, and video once mobile carriers make this an available option to their customers.

The Center is now fully transitioned to NG9-1-1, which uses the latest call-handling technology in a cloud-based solution, and is now capable of making further advancements in its 9-1-1 capabilities in response to the needs of a wireless, mobile society. According to James Soukup, director of the Durham Emergency Communications Center, in today's 9-1-1 environment, people can primarily make only emergency voice calls and teletype calls from the hearing impaired. Only minimal data is delivered with these calls, such as automatic number identification, subscriber name, and automatic location identification, when available. With NG9-1-1, people will be able to make voice, text, or video emergency "calls" from any communication devices that use the Internet.

“The nation's current 9-1-1 system is not capable of handling the text, data, images, and video that are increasingly common in personal communications. That’s why Durham upgraded to NG9-1-1 so we would be ready to move forward with the industry,” said Soukup. “The completed installation of Durham’s system paves the way for future advancements, such as being able to accept videos and photos. Now that we have this technology installed at the Center, we are ready to accept this type of data as soon as mobile carriers make it possible for their customers to send it to us.”

Since August 2011, Durham residents and visitors who are also Verizon Wireless customers have been able to send text messages to 911. The “text to 9-1-1” technology was part of a collaboration between the City of Durham, Verizon Wireless, and Intrado. Intrado, an emergency communications technology provider, installed the NG9-1-1 system at the Durham Emergency Communications Center, which will save the Center approximately $200,000 per year in surcharge funds.

The Durham Emergency Communication Center remains the first 9-1-1 center in North Carolina, as well as the one of the first 9-1-1 centers in the United States, to enable texting technology using 9-1-1 digits and live-call takers.

To learn more about the Durham Emergency Communications Center or Durham’s new NG9-1-1 system, contact Soukup at (919) 560-4191 or by email.

For more information about the nation’s transition to NG9-1-1, visit the National Emergency Number Association’s website.

Learn more about the progressive city and county of Durham.

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