- Associated Press - Friday, July 21, 2017

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - It is unclear how soon Nebraska emergency dispatchers will be able to harness technologies that would bring the state’s 911 system into the smartphone age.

The Nebraska Public Service Commission and a public safety consulting firm called Mission Critical Partners have studied the transition to Next-Generation 911 since at least 2013. Last year lawmakers assigned the groups to create a plan for its implementation, the Lincoln Journal Star (https://bit.ly/2uIM5Fz ) reported.

But a 100-page draft report that was released ahead of a Thursday hearing shows the consultants and the commission still haven’t settled on a path going forward.

The draft offers three options for the new system, ranging from a site-by-site revamp of existing 911 centers to an overhaul combining all 70 centers into six or 10 locations.

Officials are also unsure as to how much the upgrade will cost. The report roughly estimates the cost ranging from $6.3 million per year to $8.2 million, depending on which model is chosen.

County 911 officials testified Thursday that much of the costs might fall to local taxpayers, or that consolidation of centers could hinder emergency services.

“Sometimes we don’t ask ourselves the simple question of: Are we getting better to get worse?” said Columbus Police Capt. Todd Thalken, who manages emergency dispatch services in Platte County.

The draft was created with input from law enforcement and rescue workers, the telecommunications industry, and state and local governments.

The final report is due back to the Legislature by Dec. 1.


Information from: Lincoln Journal Star, https://www.journalstar.com

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