During the Camden County Commission's Thursday meeting, the commission took steps in improving the county's 911 call center. According to Presiding Commissioner Kris Franken and Sheriff Department officials, the call center was overdue for an upgrade. The commission unanimously approved a contract with the new communication company, Central Communications.
"Our equipment is so out of date that we cannot buy parts from the manufacturer anymore, and have been buying parts off of E-bay and from other outlets. Further, we do not have the ability to determine the location of calls coming from mobile phones, which can drastically affect our emergency response time," Franken said. "In addition to the ability to determine the location of E-911 calls coming from a cell phone, we will also be able to receive E-911 calls via text once the mobile carriers implement the necessary technology on their end."
Sheriff Department officials say that this upgrade will improve safety and alleviate stress among dispatchers.
As the use of cell phones have increased and land lines have decreased, the E-911 phone tax has also decreased.
"We have been experiencing decreasing revenues for the E-911 phone tax, which currently can only be collected on land base lines, and we supplement over 40% of the E-911 operational budget out of general revenue, and are paying for this entire upgrade out of general revenue. The amount collected for the E-911 tax in 2013 was $475,079.92, in 2012 it was $476,392.69, and in 2011 it was $536,973.51," Franken said. "The upgrade cost is $401,585.05, and the Automatic Vehicle Locator is an additional $53,856.55, half of which is being paid for out of the Sheriff's budget for this year."
Officials also added that upgrade will be a Windows based operating system which will allow for expansion in the future.