TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) – Counties that use the statewide 911 dispatch system will be seeing improvements when calling or texting for emergency help.
The Kansas 911 Act implemented changes to the existing 911 system. The Joint Committee on Kansas Security heard progress updates on this bill Wednesday.
The upgraded system will give 911 dispatchers the ability to respond to someone who texts multiple times. Previously, dispatchers could only respond once per text and after 3 minutes with no response, the conversation was deleted.
Dispatchers will also be able to translate texts to and from most languages instantaneously. Currently, if a text is sent in a language other than English, the dispatcher would need to find a way to translate the message or have someone else translate.
According to Next Generation 911 Administrator Scott Ekberg, the upgraded system will cut six to 12 seconds off emergency call times because there is no need to transfer calls based on location.
The new systems gives a more accurate look at where the call is coming from by using the location from.
“The location information is by far the most important,” says Ekberg. “I mean that’s always the key thing that we’re looking at in all of the projects that we do, is to better determine, without the caller having to tell us, where that caller is located.”
The location will be taken directly from your phone as opposed to getting location from the nearest cell tower, which is the current process. This will allow for more accurate location readings.
“The dispatch centers are able to identify the individuals who are calling in so that we can quickly get to them location-wise,” explained Rep. Eric Smith the Chair of the Joint Committee on Kansas Security. “So these two, Next Generation 911 and FirstNet, will work hand in hand to get people to those centers where the emergencies are occurring quicker.”
The new system will also allow dispatchers to send camera access requests to users. This will give dispatchers the ability to see and record what is happening from the user’s cell phone.
The goal is to have all of these improvements implemented by the end of 2020. These changes are voluntary and counties can choose whether they want to use them.