New Illinois 911 system to include text messaging and videos

National News

ST. CLAIR COUNTY, Ill. – Illinois State Police Director Brendan Kelly and Statewide 911 Administrator Cindy Barbera-Brelle announced Wednesday the state’s intent to move forward with a new 911 system known as Next Generation 911 network.

The announcement of an intent to award a contract to AT&T is expected to lead to a system that will allow for video sharing and text messages to be sent to 911 telecommunicators, according to St. Clair County 911 Director Herb Simmons.

“I think it’s going to give our 911 telecommunicators the tools to have a lot more available information at their to fingertips to relay to our first responders,” he said.

Simmons said the ability to send a text message could be helpful in some situations. He cited a scenario where an intruder is inside a home and the victim is concerned about being heard making a phone call.

“The last thing you want to do is let the bad guy know you’re on the phone,” Simmons said.

The ability to share video could help first responders better prepare for what they’re about to encounter when responding to a 911 call.

“Fire departments could be responding to a HAZMAT situation and somebody may be on the scene that has a video of it,” Simmons said.

He said another key upgrade will be the ability of bordering counties to quickly share information with each other.

“Seconds and minutes can mean a lot,” Simmons said.

State officials believe the upgrade will result in greater accuracy, reduced response times, and will be more reliable. The initial cost is expected to be $109 million over 10 years. Work on the project is expected to begin at the end of the 2021 fiscal year.

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