'Next Generation 911' coming to York County

Matt Enright
York Dispatch
In this file photo, an employee talks with a co-worker at the York County 911 Center Monday, July 31, 2017.

York County's relatively old-fashioned 911 system will be moving online in the next few years.

The county commissioners on May 12 unanimously approved an agreement with the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency to provide "Next Generation 911" services at no cost to the county.

Next Generation 911 will move from the current system to a modern, internet protocol-based system that will allow for a number of benefits, including faster connection times and the use of geographic information systems to pinpoint the location of callers.

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"It really allows us to collaborate statewide in how we modernize critical emergency services," President Commissioner Julie Wheeler said in an interview. "Nowadays, everything's about enhancing technology, enhancing efficiencies, and really at the end of the day we want to do everything to provide great customer service to the person who's calling in with that 911 emergency, but we also want to make sure that we're being as efficient and seamless as possible with our emergency responders." 

To implement this 911 system, PEMA will be installing fiber-optic cable across Pennsylvania to create a state-of-the-art IP network dedicated to 911 calls. 

The new system will have the ability to support modes of communication other than phone calls, such as text messages, photos or videos, according to PEMA deputy director of 911 Jeff Boyle.

It will also cut down on the time it takes for a call to be delivered to a call center from about 13 seconds to less than one.

"Doesn't seem like a lot of time, but when every second counts, that will definitely save a lot of lives," Boyle said. 

The statewide system is expected to be complete by June 2023, he said. The southeast region of the state, which includes York County, is anticipated to be completed by March 2023.