Technology has shaped our expectations for communications immediacy, especially in the area of emergency communications and response. With technology changing at a rapid pace, and with cell phones a predominate form of communication and the primary phone line for many homes, St. Charles County will be upgrading its 911 system in the new year.
Changes need to be implemented to keep up with technology and because over 70% of 911 calls now come from cell phones instead of landlines. When the current system was purchased in 2004, most users still depended on their landlines. St. Charles County’s new 911 System will be cloud-based to maximize space and decrease investment in hardware, with back-up information stored off site. The new system will allow dispatchers to pinpoint on a map where the caller is located, whether they are using a landline or a cell phone. The map will also show the dispatcher where other calls are coming in to determine if the calls are all for one incident or different incidents. In the future, the system will also allow for users to text or send video to 911 instead of call.
Once the need for a new system was determined, St. Charles County officials and St. Charles County Dispatch & Alarm met with the surrounding PSAPs (Public Service Answering Points) throughout the County that take 911 calls, including police departments from Wentzville, Lake St. Louis, O’Fallon, St. Peters and St. Charles City, to determine the best system to benefit all residents. A team made up of representatives from each jurisdiction participated in the vendor selection process. Funding for the new system will come from each PSAP, along with St. Charles County Government and a 2% landline tax that funds the current system.
The system will be implemented in the spring of 2015. This new system will allow not only St. Charles County citizens to benefit, but also visitors traveling through our community.