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Kandiyohi Co., Minn., converts to Next Gen 911 Network

WILLMAR -- Kandiyohi County is the second county in the state's multi-phase project to convert its 911 emergency dispatch operation to the Next Generation 911 high-speed voice and data network.

Carver County was the first emergency dispatch operation to convert in November 2011 and has been successfully operating on the network.

According to a news release from the State Emergency Communications Network, a division of the Department of Public Safety, Next Generation 911 will provide a standard platform of routing and delivering 911 calls based on the same protocol that drives the Internet, where phone signals are changed into computer language.

The existing 911 system is analog-based and delivers only voice and limited data.

When fully developed, Next Generation 911 will deliver emergency calls more quickly and with more robust information to 911 dispatchers and emergency responders -- facilitating more effective and informed response.

The network will eventually allow 911 callers to send text, photos, video, medical information, vehicle crash data, building plans and

more. The system also will enable public access to emergency services, anytime, anywhere and from any communication device.

"Our 30-year-old 911 system has been a success, but it has not kept up with constant technology developments that the public has grown accustomed to with their 'smart phones' and won't deliver what our citizens expect for emergency services in the 21st century," says Stacey Bonnema, communications director for Kandiyohi County.

"While this is a lengthy and complex process, the project will dramatically improve 911 connectivity and capability resulting in saved lives and property once fully implemented."

Throughout 2012 and 2013, all 911 systems in Minnesota will convert to the Internet-based network.