On February 16, 1968, Alabama Senator Rankin Fite made the first 911 call in the United States in Haleyville, Alabama.

The Alabama Telephone Company carried the call. A week later, Nome, Alaska, implemented a 911 system.

The time has come to take a closer look at 911 which is now 50 years old. To put that in perspective we went to the moon a year later.

Time For An Update of The System

The federal government has passed a new law requiring that phones dial 911 directly, and has directed the Federal Communications Commission to undertake a rulemaking on Enhanced 911 regulations, also called “E-911.”

These federal and state developments may require employers to take action to ensure compliance and revamp their emergency safety equipment and procedures.

One of the problems 911 is experiencing is finding the location of cell phone users. The addition of video to the operator could speed up finding the location for emergency personnel.

About 80 percent of 911 calls are made from cell phones.

A bill currently before Congress – that will likely be reintroduced next session – is aimed at accelerating upgrades nationwide with additional federal grants.

A recent report to Congress revealed the estimated cost of NG911 deployment, which would transition PSAPs to an Internet Protocol-based 911 system, allowing for a smoother flow of digital information, is between $9.5 and 12.7 billion.

Some Final Thoughts

There’s no question the old phone call system is outdated in today’s technological world. The addition of video and text could speed response time and save lives.

I hope congress takes this seriously and passes legislation to update this tired system.