Raleigh– North Carolina has been awarded a $3.9 million federal grant to upgrade and enhance 911 systems across the state, N.C. Department of Information Technology Secretary and State CIO Eric Boyette announced today. North Carolina is one of 34 states and two tribal nations receiving grants from the $109 million 911 Grant Program.
The grant, awarded by the U.S. Departments of Commerce and Transportation, will support the N.C. 911 Board’s current implementation of E-911 and NextGen 911 services, migrate to an IP-enabled emergency network and train 911 staff and first responders in this new technology.
E-911 allows first responders to receive a wireless caller’s precise location, give or take 80 yards. NextGen 911 allows for first responders to receive photos, videos and text messages, in addition to voice calls.
“Our lives are increasingly becoming more dependent on wireless technologies to communicate,” said Boyette. “More and more, residents are relying on text messaging, email and other online ways to connect and giving up landlines altogether. Our deaf and hard-of-hearing communities are more likely to use text messaging. We as a state need to be able to communicate with each other, especially in emergency situations.”
Last year, more than 75% of 911 calls in North Carolina were from wireless devices, according to the N.C. 911 Board.
Over the next seven years, the state’s 117 911 centers will be connecting to the state’s Emergency Services IP Network and Hosted Call Handling Solution, which supports E-911 and NextGen 911. Currently, there are 12 PSAP sites live with 47 active and 60 in planning sessions.
In November, Durham County’s call center became the first in the nation to upgrade. By the end of this year, 40 additional call centers will have transitioned to the new technology.
“Our 911 staff wants to be more accessible to the public, resolve emergencies faster and, as a result, resolve more of them,” said Pokey Harris, executive director of the N.C. 911 Board. “If calls are received, managed and dispatched faster, call centers can serve more people.”
Housed within the N.C. Department of Information Technology, the N.C. 911 Board is responsible for both wireline and wireless 911 communications in the state, as well as related policies and procedures. The board also administers the state’s 911 Fund, which is used to support equipment purchases for all 911 centers in the state. Secretary Boyette serves as Chairman.