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Kandiyohi Co., Minn., Sheriff: Next Gen 911 is big deal

WILLMAR -- Kandiyohi County's conversion of its 911 emergency dispatch operation to the Next Generation 911 high speed voice and data network is a significant advancement in technology, according to Sheriff Dan Hartog.

However, county citizens will need to wait until the rest of the state is on the new system before they can use text messaging to call 911 or use their smartphones sent photos, video or other data to emergency dispatchers, Hartog says. The goal is to have the service available across the state, as a matter of public safety, so people accustomed to texting 911 aren't left without help in a county that hasn't yet upgraded to the new system.

Kandiyohi is the second county in the state to go onto the new system, which uses 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.

Carver County in November became the first county to make the transition.

Hartog likens the 911 changes to what law enforcement officials have already completed with the ARMER radio system, moving the communications from analog to digital technology.

Throughout this year and 2013, all remaining 110 Public Safety Answering Points in Minnesota will convert to the Internet-based network, according to the State Emergency Communications Network, a division of the Department of Public Safety.

Gretchen Schlosser

Gretchen Schlosser is the public safety reporter, and writes about agriculture occasionally, for the West Central Tribune. She's been with the Tribune since 2006 and has 17 years of experience working in news, media and communications. 

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