LINCOLN, Neb. — Nebraska's 911 director is proposing a plan that would enable emergency reporting via text, photo or video.
Director David Sankey updated the Appropriations Committee and the Transportation and Telecommunications Committee Wednesday on a plan to implement an upgraded 911 system statewide in 2019.
About 80 percent of emergency calls in the state are made on mobile phones, many of which have multimedia functions. The system would allow people to text, send a photograph or a video to an emergency dispatcher who could then relay the information to responding officers. 911 operators could also be contacted through laptops or tablets that are connected to the internet.
"Our goal is to provide 911 service to all of our citizens and all those individuals traveling through our state," Sankey said.
The system would also link to geographic information system mapping, which would help dispatchers pinpoint a call location if callers can't talk or don't know their addresses.
Nebraska has 70 emergency dispatch centers. The plan would divide the state into regions that would each get the enhanced technology at two centers. The other locations would be connected to those main regional centers. This system would allow for the whole network to benefit from the technology upgrade at a lower cost, Sankey said.
The system would cost an estimated $6.5 million annually and be funded through an existing monthly surcharge on wireless phones. The Public Service Commission has a $12 million reserve which would be used for the upgrade, Sankey said.
The plan also proposes raising the wireless fee from 45 cents per phone per month to $1.25. The increase would help cover ongoing costs but would likely not need to be implemented until 2021, Sankey said. The Public Service Commission also plans to seek federal grants to help reduce the need for a fee increase.