News : Local Emergency Call Center to Upgrade Services
Williamson County, IL, Dec 23, 2014 -- Emergency call centers across the country are struggling as they lose the tax money that used to come from our landline phone bills.
But one local center actually upgraded its services.
Due to grants and a certain amount of money from cell phone bills, an enhanced 911 system is coming to Williamson County in the new year.
Williamson County is developing new ways on how they respond to emergencies, despite setbacks in funding.
Williamson County 911 Coordinator Ken Smith says although they are upgrading, it hasn't been easy.
"We've had to make cutbacks, things that we used to provide to the dispatch centers that we just can't afford to do it anymore," Smith said. "And there are some that are practically going bankrupt in some parts of the state."
Wireless 911 is funded by a statewide surcharge on cell phones of 73 cents each month. Of that, local 911 systems get about 58 cents.
And depending on how big a population is in Illinois, some centers are able to expand its technology, while others may struggle due to a cut in funding.
Williamson County is a part of a 15 county association that will provide a 911 service called Next Generation.
This service will make it easier for residents to contact 911, where residents can text with their cell phone.
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Although land line surcharges give more funding than cell phones, some local are not affected by the smaller amount, while other centers are highly affected.
"The areas that have high populations are doing just great because they have enough people with cell phones that they bring in more money," Smith said. "In some of the other counties, they are really struggling to break even due to the change in the surcharge."
Smith did state that nearly everyone in Southern Illinois has enhanced 911, which means centers can get accurate map locations with most calls.
Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent
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