The Barton County Commission Monday morning approved the installation of the Next Generation 911 system. It was a planned conversion, it just wasn’t planned for this soon.
The current 911 system is experiencing problems. The server keeps crashing and, since it is analog, it isn’t compatible with the latest digital technology.
The county had hoped this change would come in 2017. But, the issues now forced the commission’s hand and it could be in place by next spring.
Making the switch will cost $104,000. That seems like a lot of money, but this isn’t something that can be put off until later.
The Communications Department that handles 911 is a crucial link between the public in need of emergency services and the first responders who can render assistance. It is vital that the information flow freely and smoothly between all parties involved.
Five years ago when the current system was installed, it was state of the art. But, just as anybody who purchases a cell phone or computer knows, it doesn’t take long for those devices to become obsolete.
That was the case with the analog server used by 911.
However, NG911 is an internet protocol (IP)-based system that allows digital information (e.g., voice, photos, videos, text messages) to flow seamlessly. It is the latest and greatest and it is what state officials hope will become universal for 911 centers all over Kansas.
The change in Barton County was inevitable. It was just hoped it would be a year or two down the road.
But, that is not the case.
Public safety is at stake. Perhaps the commission didn’t want to make this call now, but it comforting to know they did.