Texts to 911 due in 2021
LISBON –Texting is finally coming to Columbiana County’s 911 system, but probably not until January.
County 911 advisory committee members learned at this week’s meeting they received the federal grant sought last December to cover 60 percent of the cost to make the necessary system upgrades to needed to begin accepting text messages. The other 40 percent is being paid by the county and the five other Ohio counties that joined to file the application. The counties’ share is $13,426 each.
Deputy 911 Director Brian Rutledge said the circuitry will be installed and then integrated with local cell phone carriers. The work could be completed sometime in November at the earliest, but that will depend on what happens with the COVID-19 pandemic, but he said it should be operational no later than early 2021.
The county’s new Next Generation 911 system became operational last year, which comes with the ability to accept 911 messages and photographs via texting from any electronic device. Additional equipment was needed purchased to make that happen, however.
Rutledge said some of the grant money was left over, and counties were encouraged to file another funding application, which they did. The grant would cover 60 percent of the estimated $74,497 cost of creating a backup 911 answering center should any of the other answering centers become completely inoperable. The county’s contribution would be $29,798.
Under the county’s system, five law enforcement agencies serve as answering centers, with the 911 calls routed to their dispatchers based on geography. The answering centers are the Columbiana, East Liverpool, East Palestine and Salem police departments and the county sheriff’s office.
Rutledge said the backup answering center would be located in the county Emergency Management Agency building, which is where the main 911 system and routing equipment is located.