GATE CITY — A new 911 system is on the way to Scott County.
Known as Next Generation (NG) 911, the system is being deployed across Virginia using a plan adopted by the commonwealth’s 911 Services Board. Tim Addington, southwest region coordinator for the Virginia Information Technologies Agency (VITA), outlined the new system during Wednesday’s meeting of the Scott County Board of Supervisors.
NG 911 is designed to work better with today’s digital technology, including text-to-911 programs. But the changes won’t come without an increased service charge, which could be more than double the county’s current cost.
The commonwealth has been discussing and planning for NG 911 for nearly a decade, according to VITA’s website.
The new system aims to correct issues with the current 911 system, including decades-old technology and a limited ability to transfer call data to other locations.
“What’s going to happen with NG 911 is that no matter where that location is at, they (dispatchers) will be able to transfer that call, and the data will go with it,” Addington said. “That will be a vast improvement. … It’s beneficial for the safety, health and welfare of the citizens as we move forward with this, along with the responders.”
How it will work
Addington said the process starts with the deployment of a statewide emergency services network called an ESInet. He added that the migration to NG 911 has already begun in Northern Virginia with Fairfax County, which is implementing the program through AT&T.
Addington explained that Scott County and other localities will be able to choose how they implement the program, but the same AT&T contract being used by Fairfax County is available for use by the other counties, if they choose to adopt it.
Scott County’s current monthly 911 service charge is around $2,329.60, based on landline subscriber counts, Addington said. Under the proposed AT&T contract for NG 911, the new monthly charge would be less than or equal to $4,972.74, creating a potential monthly increase of $2,643.14.
Addington said the 911 Services Board will cover that difference for 24 months after deployment.
The goal is to implement NG 911 across Virginia by July 1, 2023, Addington said. For the southwest region of the state, the goal is to have the system implemented between July and December of 2021, though that timeframe could change.
“That may be extended again. … Instead of December 2021, it may be six months or maybe even a year out before it actually gets implemented here,” Addington said.
Scott County leaders and the county attorney will review the AT&T proposal and consider other options in the coming months. As the timeline stands now, Addington said the county would need to make a decision on how to implement the system by May 2020.