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New 911 System Offers Texting Capabilities, Better Mapping

Posted 11/22/2017

By Jared JanzenHARVEY County’s new Next Generation 911 system has capabilities to receive text messages, but Communications Director Don Gruver still recommends calling in all but a few scenarios. HARVEY County’s new Next Generation 911 system has capabilities to receive text messages, but Communications Director Don Gruver still recommends calling in all but a few scenarios.

HARVEY COUNTY—The Next Generation 911 system went live in Harvey County on Oct. 26, replacing the county’s previous 10-year-old system and offering a range of benefits.

Communications Director Don Gruver said the new system has many advantages, including better mapping capabilities, better backup and redundancy, and even the ability to receive text messages.

“This new system is heavily map-based and intensive,” Gruver said. “It’s helping us locate callers a lot quicker to be able to find where they’re at, especially with 70 percent of our 911 calls these days being cell phones.”

He noted people driving down highways oftentimes aren’t exactly sure what milepost or road they’ve just passed, so the new mapping system cuts down on time locating callers.

“It’s working a lot better for us,” he said.

The county’s previous system required multiple steps to determine a cell phone’s location, whereas the new system can find the location almost immediately.

“It’s pretty much spot-on right from the word ‘go.’” Gruver said.

Beginning Nov. 2, the state rolled out texting capabilities for counties with the Next Generation system.

“Everybody that was on the system at that time had that capability available to them,” Gruver said.

In the first two weeks of having the texting capabilities Harvey County 911 only received one text message, a report of reckless driving. Gruver recommends people still phone 911 as much as possible because operators can get the information they need more quickly and efficiently when they can speak with you.

“We need to encourage to please call us and talk to us by voice if at all possible,” Gruver said. “The texting is more of a tool that needs to be left for when people cannot make a phone call.”

Examples of when it might be appropriate to text 911 would be if there’s an intruder in the house and caller doesn’t want to be heard. People unable to hear or speak well can also utilize it.

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