Quincy/Adams County 911 Center gets upgrades

Published: May. 22, 2023 at 5:04 AM CDT
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QUINCY (WGEM) - Jessica Douglas, the Director of the Quincy/Adams County 911 Communications Center said first responders must have the most accurate information when they respond to calls for help.

A digital transition was recently completed at the center, which officials said will provide first responders with far more accurate information.

Douglas said their transition is a part of a statewide move to the next generation 911 Network for all counties, which is apart of the Emergency Telephone System Act. She said this will enhance services for everyone in Illinois, including those passing through.

Douglas said the new digital system buildings on the old one. The previous system provided more location accuracy for those calling on landlines. The new system will provide more accurate geolocation data for first responders.

“If you think of the area that we serve, we serve an 871 square mile area, much of which is rural. The cellphone service isn’t as reliable in those rural areas, so having the most accurate geo location data we can for those, particularly those wireless calls is very critical here for 911,” Douglas said.

She said the previous system would provide the location of a mobile device within 50 to 300 meters of it’s location. The new system can pinpoint a mobile device to its exact location.

Adams County EMS Chief John Simon said this will allow first responders to respond more efficiently to areas, and assist in sharing precise locations with other 911 centers in surrounding counties if needed. Douglas said with 85% of the call centers calls being from mobile devices, it’s important for first responders to have precise accuracy.

“It just really depends on what that signal is. Whether it gives a more specific, precise location or a generalized location of the cellphone or if we get only a tower location. And so sometimes those are a little bit different. Sometimes those are challenging. Especially if it’s someone traveling through the area and they don’t exactly know where they are,” Simon said.

He said they’ve had incidents in the past where people unfamiliar with the area gave them landmarks, but it led to a lot of guessing work to determine their location. He said the new system will allow them to direct first responders to the appropriate location in a timely matter.

Douglas said the system can do 3D building visualization, which gives first responders the location of the caller inside of a building. She said another aspect they are working on is text to 911, where people would be able to text 911 if there’s an emergency and even send pictures and videos. It’s still being worked on.

They hope to add those feature down the road.

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