Lee County Next Gen 911 services now active with picture and video ability

Reporter: Dannielle Garcia
Published: Updated:
LeeFlight helicopter (Credit: Lee County EMS)

On the 35th anniversary of 911 in Lee County, leaders announced the Next Generation 911 technology for improved location services when placing a 911 call is now active. The upgrade will also mean that residents and visitors soon will be able to send pictures and video through text-to-911 services to help emergency responders.

By providing callers with a link to upload files, emergency services call takers in Lee County will be able to see pictures, videos or livestream from a scene. Callers will not have the option to send until prompted.

Possibly the most important feature for dispatch is that it greatly improves the accuracy of the caller’s location to within 10 or 20 feet.

Lee County’s Director of Public Safety Benjamin Abes said, “For people that are not familiar with the area, that pinpointed location is really powerful to be able to get them help. We can also bring up street views based on that map location so we can say do you see this store or this restaurant to be able to verify the location.”

Another great tool; it helps with 911 hangups. Instead of a dispatcher having to call back to check if it was intentional, an automated machine will call back and ask if you meant to hang up or if you’d like to talk to dispatch, which frees up the dispatchers for other calls.

The upgrades are part of the commitment the Lee Board of County Commissioners has made to Public Safety technology initiatives, which began with the implementation of text to 911 services in December.

The Lee Board of County Commissioners has invested $35 million in public safety technology infrastructure.

The Next Generation 911 upgrades were announced Wednesday in tandem with both the 35th anniversary of 911 in Lee County and National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week.

Residents and visitors are reminded that a voice call to 911 remains the most effective method for requesting emergency assistance. Call takers get a great deal of information from background noise, changes in voice and breathing and other sounds that come from a voice call.

Lee County Sheriff Carmine Marceno said, “Today’s a game-changer, having the ability to have video or picture an image you know. Sometimes like, God forbid, a scene of Parkland – someone’s hiding in fear for their life, they are able to take a video without making one move without saying anything.”

Mobile carriers handle texts to 911 like any other message. You can experience the same service speeds or delays, depending on network strength in your area. A text or data plan is required to text to 911 and regular rates apply.

They still like to stress, if you can call – call. If you can’t call – text.

The additional technology services that are available effective immediately to improve the handling of 911 calls in Lee County include:

  • Advanced location services, which will allow emergency communications personnel to send help with pinpoint accuracy.
    • Call takers will have a map to show exactly where the call comes from and will share that information with first responders.
    • It is still important to know the location of your emergency as this can confirm what the call center is seeing and help emergency responders get there as quickly as possible.
  • RapidSOS integration, which will send vital information from both vehicle and phone.
    • Vehicles with Automatic Collision Notification (ACN) software will immediately transmit crash speed, force of impact, number of passengers, location, and size of vehicle involved in a collision to the nearest call center.
  • An automated callback system, which can be used in the event of multiple hang-ups at the same time.

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