Cannon County's 911 Board of Directors voted unanimously Oct. 25 to purchase equipment allowing the county's center to connect to a new, statewide network.
The proposal was presented to the board by 911 Director Roy Sullivan. Called Next Generation 911, the system will be a digital-based platform over fiber optic lines with an emphasis on cell phones. Currently, 911 uses traditional, expensive copper trunk lines.
"The exciting part for me in being involved with this upgrade in equipment is bringing Cannon County 911 technology up to the same standards as every other 911 district in the state of Tennessee, instead of just trying to catch up to other 911 districts," Sullivan said.
The change will shorten the time it takes to receive and disseminate life-saving information to emergency responders that serve Cannon County, he said.
"NG911 will enable the transfer of call information including the caller's location," Sullivan said.
Currently, a wireless caller's location is calculated by either X and Y coordinates or GPS. If the call hits a neighboring county's cell tower, the 911 service does not receive the caller's information, making it necessary to verbally relay the location. That takes up precious time, he said.
With NG911 a statewide GIS database will be maintained making any map information in Tennessee available. AT&T is also currently testing the ability to text 911. If implemented, Tennessee will be one of the few states in the nation capable of texting an emergency message.
The NG911 project is being funded by the Tennessee Emergency Communications Board through wireless surcharges.
Cannon County's board voted to purchase the NG911 equipment to replace the old analog equipment currently used locally. This will incorporate a new computer assisted dispatch system in addition to updating just about all the equipment in the 911 center.
"The project is being rolled out in several phases. The first phase has already been completed with the installation of computer modem interfaces to connect to the NG911 statewide network," Sullivan said.
"The next phase is the completion of converting all our GIS map data to a statewide compatible format called TIPS. That should be completed by the end of this calendar year," he said.