The Pembina County Commission has voted to set up the groundwork to support new forms of digital communication in partnership with the North Dakota Association of Counties (NDACo) to provide digital 911 services in our community, also known as Next Generation 911. This technology will improve public safety by giving individuals more options for contacting 911, depending on the situation.
“Improvements are needed to advance the technology used in emergency response”, said 911 Coordinator Liz Beck. “Our existing system is largely built around decades-old communication technology and our current 911 system has reached its technical capacity for the public to communicate with 911.” She added “Dispatchers can only receive voice calls, but the public has adapted to many other ways of communicating, such as text.”
The County Commission amended their agreement Tuesday August 21 to help set up a statewide Next Generation 911 network. Hardware and software upgrade costs for county 911 services continue to increase. Funding, which has not increased in Pembina County since 1993, comes from the phone taxes that users pay. These taxes are dedicated solely toward maintaining and improving 911 services. The Commission is assessing raising the current $1.00 fee to fund future upgrade costs which are estimated to occur sometime in the next 3 to 5 years.
“Setting up a statewide network is more cost-effective than each county setting up their own, as it allows for shared resources across county lines”, said Beck. She adds that the new system will also allow individuals to send digital photos and video, which can help a dispatcher and emergency workers gain a better understanding of an emergency.