Denison is joining Sherman and a number of area cities along with the Texoma Council of Governments to continue upgrading equipment for the next generation of 9-1-1 technology.
Public Safety Program Manager at TCOG CJ Durbin-Higgins said the NexGen 911 service is rolling out nationwide in various phases. Now, the cities are preparing to receive new equipment allowing for new features, including text to 911 as well as more accurate geospacial location and upgraded mapping software.
The biggest change is the migration from decades-old analog technology to more modern digital technology.
The NexGen 911 service began in 2014 for TCOG with Sherman and Denison coming on board a year later. The current upgrades are expected to be completed over the course of the next year.
Durbin-Higgins said the cities work together with TCOG on a host system that allows one site to have the routing equipment and the remote sites to receive calls to their respective dispatches. The upgraded technology will make it more accurate in pinpointing an exact location of a mobile device calling 9-1-1. Even though the switch moves away from analog technology, there will be no changes to those individuals with an older-style landline.
Denison has allocated funds for the upgrade in its 2020 budget that will be voted on by the City Council on Sept. 16. The funds are listed along with six other items under major capital improvements. The total capital improvement fund the city is discussing is $360,000 for the year.
Durbin-Higgins said that money is a cost-sharing agreement between Sherman, Denison and TCOG to provide the equipment for the whole county. She said it saves money on equipment at the individual sites while costing more up front at the host site.
“We're looking forward to upgrading our mapping software,” Durbin-Higgins said. “It will provide better location information especially for wireless calls. It will be more accurate. We're still trying to get better information from wireless calls. We have to get the data cleaned up from going to geospatial information to route the calls. That is what we are working on to get it implemented. We did text to 911 as a region. That was beneficial to the citizens of our three counties. That is next generation technology. We are not completely transitioned; that will take a couple years state wide at least.”
Durbin-Higgins said there are backup systems in place to ensure service is not interrupted during the transition. TCOG is hoping to begin replacing the equipment with the newer technology by end of year or early 2020.