City of Staunton unveils upgrades to 911 system

staunton virginiaAfter a year-long migration process, the City of Staunton completed a significant upgrade of its E911 call system last week.

The City’s emergency communications center has launched NextGen 911 (NG911), a state-of-the-art technology platform that delivers calls through an IP-based digital network, replacing the traditional 911 call system.

NG911 provides the following advantages:

  • Allows callers to complete a 911 call more quickly
  • Enables dispatchers to transfer 911 calls to any emergency call center in Virginia with the NG911 system
  • Provides a text-to-911 call feature, which will be useful for callers who are hearing impaired or in situations where a person is in danger and unable to speak freely

Staunton’s emergency communications center expects to make the text-to-911 functionality available to callers in about six months, to allow wireless carriers the time to configure their networks for the new feature.

“In emergency situations, seconds can make the difference between life and death,” said City Chief Technology Officer Kurt Plowman, who led the migration process. “We reduced 911 call setup time by three seconds, and that’s significant to someone in need of emergency assistance. The City is continually looking for opportunities to improve its emergency response, and this technology upgrade will be important for Staunton residents at a critical moment in time.”

Plowman noted that the new system puts Staunton’s center among the most advanced in the Commonwealth. Virginia’s emergency communications centers are planning to upgrade to NG911 over the next five years.

“The majority of Virginia’s 911 communications centers have yet to upgrade to NextGen 911,” he said. “We decided to make the transition now to stay current with technology and support future communication needs as technology continues to evolve. We’re pleased to be on the cutting edge and provide our citizens with superior emergency call service.”

The City’s emergency communications center receives more than 60,000 phone calls per year, averaging 280 calls per day. It also dispatches all emergency calls in the City to the Staunton Police Department, the Staunton Fire and Rescue Department and the Staunton-Augusta Rescue Squad.

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