On Tuesday, March 12, 2019, Jackson County became the 91st Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP) to join the statewide Next Generation 9-1-1 system. Kansas has a total of 117 PSAPs. AT&T installed the new system over the past few weeks and have provided the training for sheriff’s office dispatchers.
A new feature with this new system is Simple Message Service Text-to-911. Sheriff dispatchers can not only receive 911 phone calls, but now can receive emergency text messages. Dispatchers will be able to text back through the new system to the caller. Incidents where someone may be in danger and does not want the suspect to know they are calling for help can text for help.
By joining the 911 Coordinating Council’s statewide NG911 system, Jackson County no longer is required to host an in-house 911 system and isn’t required to plan for future 911 updates. The state has 2 different host sites for their 911 system. One in Wichita and the other in Topeka. If Jackson County were to experience an outage or disaster, dispatchers could go to another PSAP in another county and still be able to answer 911 calls for Jackson County.
Typically, 911 systems need to be replaced every 5-6 years. These projects can cost a couple hundred thousand dollars or more each time. The 911 Coordinating Council’s system will be upgraded overtime and maintained by the council.
This new system also provides an upgrade to the Center’s 911 mapping system. Counties receive better mapping for the entire state, rather than just their own counties. This is important when crimes or emergencies that are in progress and cross county lines. The annual cost for the new system is approximately $39,000.00 and will be paid for out of the 911 taxes collected from cell phones and landlines in the county. Some counties have elected to continue to host their own system or join other systems, however, a majority of counties have joined the statewide system.