FORT MYERS, Fla. – Lee County wants to spend $1.5 million upgrading an emergency system to allow more dynamic communication to dispatchers.
All fire and emergency calls made in Lee County are currently accepted by dispatchers located in one building, the Lee County Communications Building on Ortiz Avenue. Operators send out first responders using a Windows XP system, which dates back to 2002.
But now Lee County’s department of public safety wants to upgrade to a system called Next Generation, which would introduce the ability to send text, photo and videos to 911, according to Public Safety Director Rob Farmer.
The upgrades will cost an estimated $1.5 million, but Farmer said that the county’s emergency system needs to function to residents’ needs.
“You have to make sure that 911 works well,” he said. “There is no second-guessing that. So this is a way to be sure that 911 is working its best for our residents and visitors.”
Keeping up with technology makes sense, some people said. But others weren’t convinced that the upgrades are needed.
“Especially (not) for the older people. Some people don’t even know how to text,” said Carol Doerfel.
If the upgrades are approved next week, CenturyLink will be awarded a contract to bring Next Generation to Lee County. The installation is expected to take two years. Several larger counties in Florida and around the nation are already working on the upgrade.