Text to 911 to go live later this year

By SERAINE PAGE | For the Independent

By late this year or early next year Kitsap County residents may be able to text emergencies in to Cencom.

Testing of text to 9-1-1 is underway in some parts of Washington, and residents are advised to dial 9-1-1 in the event of an emergency for now. The text service is expected to most benefit the deaf and the hearing-impaired community.

According to Kitsap 911 (CenCom) Director Richard Kirton, CenCom and other emergency centers in Washington are looking to have full implementation of the 9-1-1 texting service. He expects to see CenCom pilot projects "go live" in the state later this year or early next year. The service will then "roll out" to the rest of the state after that, Kirton said.

A public relations campaign will give residents the heads up about the system and when it will go live, the director noted.

"Text to 9-1-1 is an interim solution as the 9-1-1 system is modernized to Next Generation 9-1-1, a system that provides  many advantages over the technology in place today," said Kirton. "As we move forward with this modernization, we must make sure we are doing so in a deliberate manner. Our goal is to complete this process as quickly and efficiently as possible while insuring we continue to deliver the best, most reliable service possible to our community."

Starting May 15, wireless carriers including AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint, Verizon and other smaller regional wireless carriers  made the text to 9-1-1 service available.

"Each local 9-1-1 center (or Public Safety Answering Point-PSAP) must decide whether, when and how to begin accepting texts," a Kitsap County Central Communications news release states. "9-1-1 centers need to have the proper equipment, software, policies and training in place before they can implement the service locally."


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