Tri States Public Radio Staff
Thu January 7, 2010
Texting 911? Yes, It's Possible.
Galesburg, IL – Knox County is poised to drastically improve it's 911 system. But it will take at least a year to put in place.
Galesburg police chief Dave Christensen says the county recently received a $100,000 grant to help implement an "NG-911," or "New Generation 911" system. Once in place, he says Knox County's system will be more advanced than most in the country.
NG-911 will allow callers to text and send pictures, videos and files to dispatchers in addition to traditional calling.
"This is the future," says Christensen. "Everybody in the 911 industry recognizes the ability to receive these types of messages is the future, and we need to prepare for that."
NG-911 is one of the most significant upgrades to the 911 system since E-911, or "Enhanced" 911, was first introduced in Chicago in the mid 1970's. E-911 at first allowed dispatchers to trace where calls made on land lines were coming from. It's since evolved to triangulate the location of wireless calls.
Christensen says there's not necessarily a pronounced "need" for such technology in Knox County. But, he says all counties will have it eventually, and it could behoove Knox County to have one of the first systems in the country.
He says NG-911 will give police a pronounced edge when responding to calls.
"Perhaps it's a hit and run, and they might photograph the hit and run vehicle as it's about to depart, or any number of situations where a photograph taken by a witness or a victim might well be very beneficial."
Christensen says it'll take at least a year to set up. The $100,000 grant will cover most of the cost. He says any extra cost will likely be funded through the Knox County Emergency Telephone Systems Board.