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Local

E-911 board still moving forward with plans for new phone system

Glenna Johnson, Enhanced 911 system coordinator for DeKalb County, talks during an E-911 board meeting Aug. 1.
Glenna Johnson, Enhanced 911 system coordinator for DeKalb County, talks during an E-911 board meeting Aug. 1.

SYCAMORE – A plan to upgrade DeKalb County’s enhanced 911 – or E-911 – system is slowly moving forward after the state rejected the plan in August.

E-911 coordinator Glenna Johnson said the county didn’t have to refile the plan with the state since the original contracted network provider in the plan is working to get certified through the state. At this point, she said, the county is waiting for state approval – which is moving very slowly – and for the means to get the equipment installed.

“We’re just in a holding pattern at this point in time until everything is completed,” Johnson said.

Next Generation 911 systems use digital or internet-based technology to create a faster system that allows callers to communicate with voice calls or by sending photos, videos or text messages. But because most 911 systems were built using analog technology, making this changeover requires work and coordination, according to 911.gov.

After enabling text message use for the county’s 911 system, Johnson has said, the next step would be to add the ability for residents to send photos and live video streams to 911 operators. But, she said, the county still has a long way to go before reaching that point.

Johnson said state law requires all emergency response agency 911 systems to be next-generation 911 ready by June 2020. She said there is no date set for implementation in DeKalb County.

“Until we’re very close to that date, I wouldn’t even release it,” Johnson said.

Johnson said the county would be the first of 11 northern Illinois counties to make the upgrade to the E-911 system and then the rest of the counties will follow suit to meet the state deadline. She said there is one agency in the southern part of the state that already is using the Next Generation 911 system.

Johnson also talked about the new 911 plan status during the DeKalb County E-911 board meeting Wednesday. DeKalb police Cmdr. Jason Leverton, who is chairman of the board, could not be reached for comment.

DeKalb County didn’t have a central 911 service until 1993, when it implemented the E-911 system, Johnson has said. Before then, anyone who needed to contact emergency services had to dial a 10-digit phone number, she said.

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