Idaho is one of 20 states in the preparation phase of implementing Next Generation 911 technology, which lets callers send text messages, photos and videos directly to 911 dispatchers via a cellphone.
According to the Idaho Press Tribune
, Nampa Police Department dispatch says the service will come in handy for folks who witness a crash, hear an intruder in their homes, or are hard-of-hearing and have trouble talking on the telephone.
In the past, because incoming 911 calls most came from landlines, emergency dispatch centers automatically knew the caller's address. Now, with the dramatic decline in home phones, location information is harder to come by. While that's a challenge, there is opportunity with the proliferation of cellphone cameras.
Nampa police said the sweeping upgrade will allow dispatch centers to transfer calls to other facilities in real-time, rather than flipping physical switches, as is the case now. Plus, It's already paid for through an extra dollar on cellphone bills. Idaho has the option of proposing a 25 cent increase to that rate if approved by voters. That has already happened in some Idaho counties, resulting in an additional $9 million in 911 funding over four years—which has helped prep for Next Generation 911.
There is no firm date for implementation of the change, but preparation has begun and police departments are closely watching other states where the technology has already been implemented.