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Wolf Administration Announces Significant Step in Modernization of 911 Service in Pennsylvania

11/19/2020

Harrisburg, PA - The Wolf Administration today announced an important step forward in enhancing Pennsylvania's ability to assist those in need during emergencies and natural disasters.

"Our 911 telecommunicators are the backbone of emergency services in Pennsylvania," said Governor Tom Wolf. "This upgrade to our 911 system is another step in our commitment to enhancing public safety, saving lives and protecting our commonwealth now and for years to come."

The Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency (PEMA) selected Comtech Telecommunications Corp. to partner with PEMA and Pennsylvania's county-based 911 centers in upgrading Pennsylvania's 911 system to a Next Generation 911 platform. This effort will modernize the 911 system across Pennsylvania, allow for more data-rich communication to 911, and enhance access to emergency services for at-risk communities such as the deaf and hard of hearing.

"Emergency contact with a 911 center today is primarily limited to a voice call that provides very little data, which was sufficient when 911 calls were placed using a hard-wired phone from a business or residence", said PEMA Director Randy Padfield. "Next Generation 911 will enable Pennsylvania's 911 system to keep pace with the technology people are using every day. These improvements to our 911 system mark a significant milestone that will solidify our commitment to support Pennsylvania's 911 professionals, emergency responders and citizens, and will ultimately save lives."

Modernizations provided by Pennsylvania's Next Generation 911 system include:

  • Enhancing the speed and accuracy of 911 call delivery;
  • Facilitating the availability of text-to-911 statewide;
  • Adapting the 911 system to how people communicate today – largely through mobile and digital devices;
  • Providing a more robust and interconnected infrastructure than today's legacy 911 system to withstand natural and human-caused disasters;
  • Enabling the ability to interconnect with other public safety systems such as FirstNet;
  • Supporting quick and efficient data-sharing capabilities throughout the entire 911 community;
  • Pre-planned or on-the-fly call routing functionality will allow 911 centers to quickly re-route 911 calls to each other when needed; and
  • Allowing for cost and operational efficiencies through regional or statewide system-sharing solutions and the retirement of expensive legacy technologies.

The seven-year, $137 million statewide Next Generation 911 project will be fully funded by the $1.65 911 surcharge consumers in Pennsylvania are assessed on communications services capable of contacting 911.

More information about how you can prepare for an emergency, including specific information for people with access and functional needs or pets, is available on the ReadyPA website. You can also register for a monthly preparedness emailed newsletter, which provides timely tips and planning tools.

MEDIA CONTACT:    Ruth A. Miller, ruthmiller@pa.gov

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