Rowan County Telecommunications joins new state digital 911 system

Published 12:00 am Sunday, September 27, 2020

By Shavonne Potts

SALISBURY — Rowan County Telecommunications is moving to a more accurate way to route 911 calls and joining other North Carolina counties in using a new digital 911 system.

“Now all centers are not on it just yet, but we are the 53rd to go live,” said Interim 911 Chief Lonnie Owens.

The Emergency Services IP network 911 system promises to have the capability to connect all 117 call centers in the state and replace one built in the 1960s. North Carolina’s existing 911 centers rely on an outdated analog system to communicate with one another. Some centers cannot connect at all.

“We are excited to have this new technology in Rowan County to better serve our citizens and ensure we get the resources needed to mitigate their needs from our dedicated first responders,” Owens said.

The N.C. 911 Board contracted with AT&T for the seven-year, $99-million project.

Currently, 911 systems use geographic information systems data to map caller locations and support dispatch functions. The 911 calls are mapped based on address range, street name and city information stored in a tabular street address guide.

The newer system will allow 911 calls to be mapped by coordinates or address locations, and GIS data will be used to validate addresses and route 911 calls to the correct emergency center. GIS data will become mission-critical and will be used for life safety, a news release said.

The new system also allows any 911 center across the state to be a backup for any center that’s already updated.

If the center in Rowan County was unable to take 911 calls, for example, the 911 calls could be automatically routed to the  New Hanover County 911 call center so a call never goes unanswered.