By Michael T. Baldwin
Potter County continues upgrades to its emergency communications network to pave the way for “NextGen 911.” Commissioners Nancy Grupp, Paul Heimel and Barry Hayman have approved an agreement that paves the way for a system that will reduce response times and improve interagency communications. A 2015 state law calls for all 911 systems to be upgraded to a digital (internet protocol) system. NextGen 911 provides a faster, more resilient system that allows voice, photos, videos and text messages to flow from the public to the 911 network. It also improves dispatch center management of call overload, natural disasters, and transferring of 911 calls based on location tracking.
To pave the way for NextGen 911, Potter County completed a $4 million systemwide upgrade in 2018-19. The project involved 14 communication towers with fiber-optic service, microwave relay technology and other infrastructure. Will Hunt, the county’s director of planning GIS services, reported this week that progress has been made in the building of a database of geographic information system addresses for each property in the county, which is necessary for a functional NextGen 911 system.