Grand Traverse, Wexford Co. 911 Dispatch Expect ‘Needed’ Upgrades With New Legislation

“It’s not only helping one community. It’s helping Michigan in its entirety.”

Governor Rick Snyder’s signature is still fresh on a plan which promises to bring statewide 911 centers up to date.

The bill he signed Monday boosted the monthly surcharge on phone bills by six cents.

That means about $20 million more per year, put toward upgrading the 911 system the bill’s supporters argue is desperately needed.

“It’s a big deal for the 911 centers,” says Duane Alworden, 911 Director in Wexford County. “We had a lot of support.”

Alworden says it’s a bill that aims to bring all dispatch centers, like his, together.

“The reliability is phenomenal with it,” Alworden says. “This center is hooked in with Grand Traverse through a system called the Viper system, which runs through the IP and the fiber. So that way if one center goes down, another center can pick it up so no 911 calls are missed.”

Thirty-five other counties have this service as well.

Now, it can expand to even more.

“Things such as text to 911 will become available,” says Jason Torrey, Grand Traverse County 911 Director. “We’ll be able to take in pictures and video and put through that to first responders and, in addition to that, the network, itself, is going to be more survivable.”

Torrey says another feature is being able to find you more accurately.

“If we don’t know where you are at, we can’t help you so that is going to be huge,” Torrey says. “Long-term planning and long-term technology will allow us to deliver location information that is pin-point accurate.”

How it all works — take the lines you see today and connect them all through one stronger IP network.

“It’s going to be built with several layers of redundancy, so when you have typically seen 911 outages, our goal is to minimize those,” Torrey says.

As for any additional cost, he says many might not even notice it.

“You are going to see a six-cent per month per device increase in a post-pay subscription,” Torrey says. “The cost is minimal.”

“This will take a lot of the possible pressures that were going to be put onto us to bring in the fiber network system through the state, so this money will definitely go to that and not put a hindrance on us,” Alworden says.