by Megan Schiffres
HEATHSVILLE—About 70% of 9-1-1 calls nationwide are placed from wireless phones, according to the Federal Communications Commission.
Despite the growing use of cell phones in placing emergency calls, the systems which emergency response personnel rely on to pinpoint the source of those calls has not been updated since landlines were the primary form of emergency telecommunication. While the location of the cell site closest to the 9-1-1 caller can provide general information to indicate a call’s location, the information is not always specific enough for rescue personnel to find the caller quickly.
The Northumberland board of supervisors on December 13 heard a related presentation from Steve Marzolf, integrated services program director of the Virginia Information Technologies Agency (VITA), on Next Generation 9-1-1, a single network, digital emergency services response system that would replace the current multi-network analog system that 9-1-1 calls are processed through.
“We really have to do this because the underlying technology for the 9-1-1 network has dissipated, has gone away…