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W.Va. bill would require outdated 911 centers to update programs

West Virginia is one of four states that have not started the process to enhance 911 services.
West Virginia is one of four states that have not started the process to enhance 911 services.
Published: Mar. 15, 2021 at 7:15 PM EDT
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CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) - House of Delegates member Gary Howell (R- Mineral) said West Virginia is one of four states that have not started the process to enhance 911 services.

“When it gets down to it, there are only four states who have not started the process, and we are one of them. It’s time to catch up,” Howell said.

He said House Bill 2044 would change that. It would enable 911 centers to locate calls with GPS better, as well as with the capability to send in videos to the 911 centers.

The most important thing is the GPS, because if you are in a rural area and especially for someone outside of West Virginia or your immediate area you don’t really know how to describe where you are,” Howell said.

The modern services they are talking about is called Next Generation 911 or NG911. It is a system that used by dispatch centers all over the country.

This bill would require each county to eventually have Next Generation 911

Not all counties have the system but Rick McElhaney the deputy director of operations for Metro 911 says Kanawha County is one of the counties that does.

“This makes us stay up to date so we can have the up-to-date technology to be able to locate 911 callers,” McElhaney said.

The goal of the bill is also to help counties who don’t have the system to figure it out.

House Bill 2044 would create a commission to make a study and report back on how best to implement and manage Next Generation 911. Their goal is to help counties who don’t have the system to figure it out.

“With the focus on technology in West Virginia and enhancing broadband and everything else, I think it has a good chance,” Howell said.

The bill has a long way to go. It was passed by the Technology and Infrastructure committee, and will now head to the Government Organizations Committee before being presented on the House floor.

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