Manatee County looks to upgrade its decades-old 911 system

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Posted: Wednesday, June 11, 2014 4:29 pm

BRADENTON, Fla. -- Manatee County is looking to upgrade their 911 system in an effort to quicken response time. In a county commission meeting Tuesday,public safety officials presented their plan to push the county into the next generation of technology.

The county's current emergency dispatch system is about 40 years old, and Public Safety says with the constant progression of technology, there is a need to move forward.

The current system allows them to see the caller's address when dialed from a land line, even the location of many cell phone callers. But Public Safety says the nation's newest technology will allow them to receive even more specific information. "The next generation of 911 is a national movement to update a 30-40 year old system. So basically the 911 network is based on old copper telephone lines and that limits the ability for people to send information to our call center," says Ron Koper, director of Public Safety for Manatee County.

The new fiber network dispatch will allow for texts, video, and email to be sent to 911.

Public Safety would also like to put an end to transferring emergency calls to municipalities, such as Bradenton, Palmetto, or Longboat Key. "In the current system, if we receive a phone call at the 911 center and we need to transfer that call to another dispatch center, there's a great chance that we could lose that caller in making the transfers."

They believe bringing in the new system is an opportunity to consolidate and create one point of contact, routing all calls to Manatee County's 911 call center in order to respond more quickly and efficiently to callers. "We want to take a strong look at how to do this in the most effective manner, as well as with some efficiency,” says Koper.

A decision was not made by county commissioners on Tuesday. Public Safety must meet with the municipalities within the county to discuss consolidation and options in order to make emergency response quick and efficient.

They plan to meet with the municipalities this week and next week. If all goes as planned, Public Safety says the old system could be replaced and working by spring or summer of next year.

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