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Utah unveils Next Generation 911 system for improved emergency services

By Deborah Wilber - | Nov 30, 2022

BEN DORGER, Standard-Examiner file photo

Weber Area 911 dispatcher Matt Graves works at dispatch and emergency services on Wednesday, Nov. 13, 2019.

The Utah Communications Authority has completed a three-year project of replacing all Utah 911 call-taking equipment to include servers and software handling 911 calls as well as upgraded phone circuits carrying 911 traffic.

In partnership with Motorola Solutions Connectivity Inc, the UCA is providing its Next Generation 911 system in place of 911 networks established in the early 1980s.

According to a UCA press release, previous emergency networks were limited beyond a voice call to a direct three-digit number. The recent upgrades now offer an updated emergency system with “robust public safety technology.”

The NG911 system is an IP-based standard allowing for advanced data streams in providing pinpoint locations, text messaging, pictures, video and more through telephone companies.

While there were upgrades made to 911 networks in the 1990s, such as E911, which provided cell tower locations from which a caller’s phone pinged, precise locations of calls could not be determined.

“Utah now has a system that is ready, whenever telephone service providers are ready, to accept more advanced data streams,” UCA 911 Division Director Melanie Crittenden said in the release.

Unlike the previous iteration, NG911 is a single statewide phone system, providing agencies with protection in the event of an outage or large influx of 911 calls.

The size of the NG911 system reportedly will allow for statewide and local cost savings.

UCA Deputy Director Tina Mathieu, former executive director of Weber Area Dispatch 911, said the redundancy and tools of the NG911 system is “an impressive accomplishment” for the state and the people of Utah that will save local agencies millions of dollars over the lifetime of the contract.

As a result of the financial savings and other efforts of UCA, the Utah Legislature worked to decrease emergency service fees on phone lines by 15.5% starting January 2025.

Quin Stephens, UCA executive director, thanked Federal Engineering, which consulted on the project, Motorola, local public safety answering points, which take 911 calls, as well as his staff for helping make the transition happen.

“The completion of this project is a substantial leap forward when it comes to public safety communications and is a significant milestone for Utah,” he said in the release.


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