Bill could force Tenn. to stop Next Generation 911 project

Bill could force Tenn. to stop Next Generation 911 project (Image 1)

A new bill could force Tennessee to stop its Next Generation 911 project.

Buddy Shaffer, Director of Sumner County 911, says his department has spent millions of dollars preparing for a new statewide system to incorporate modern technology.

It would upgrade the current voice-based 911 system to the NG911 system which will enable the public to send texts, photos, videos and other data to call centers.

The text service would be useful to those with speech or hearing problems.

It could also be crucial in circumstances, such as burglary, where individuals are hiding and afraid to speak while seeking help.

Shaffer says the upgrade is necessary to keep up with the times.

But a new bill that proposes cutting the state's funding could stop the project.

Each month, a portion of every cell phone bill goes to the state 911 board.  A smaller portion goes to the individual counties.

The bill would redistribute the money, cutting the state's chunk from 75% to just 15%.

Shaffer says individual districts, especially smaller ones, rely on money from the state board to purchase new technology.

“If they go with the new bill, they won't have that kind of money to help us,” said Shaffer.

Some fear it would mean a waste of time, effort and funding that has already been spent to modernize Tennessee's 911 infrastructure.

Representative Joshua Evans from Robertson County is the house sponsor of the bill.

“They're doing a good job and we appreciate that. We just think these funds could be better used if they are invested locally.”

Next Generation 911 is supposed to be available by 2014.

Tennessee has been leading the way as the AT&T pilot state.

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