FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: July 19, 2017
Senator Cheryl C. Kagan
District 17 (Rockville & Gaithersburg)
Senator Kagan Chairs Informative Hearing on 9-1-1 Systems
Maryland lags behind 22 states in “NextGen” technology
Annapolis, MD: Senator Cheryl C. Kagan (D-Gaithersburg & Rockville) chaired her first meeting of the Joint Committee on the Management of Public Funds yesterday. State and local 9-1-1 leaders focused on the costs and funding challenges related to critical “Next Generation” (NextGen) technology updates. Committee members were dismayed to learn that despite steady increases in the number of calls received over the last decade, funding has remained stagnant. In some counties, like Prince George’s, revenue actually decreased over $1 million annually. The hearing can be viewed here (begins at 19:50).
“While my colleagues and I appreciated the insights from our expert witnesses, it was frustrating not to learn more about the timetable and total cost of upgrading to NextGen 9-1-1,” said Senator Kagan. “Counties need to budget for NextGen technology while also maintaining their current legacy systems.”
Before Emergency Number Systems Board (ENSB) member Steve Souder joined the witness table, he made a test call to 9-1-1. It mapped his location… two blocks away! Pizza or a car service can identify a customer’s exact location, transmitted based on a phone’s GPS, nearby Wi-Fi connections, and other data. Maryland’s current 9-1-1 system locates callers based only on cell phone towers that can be miles from an emergency.
Currently, residents in distress can only place audio calls. With NextGen 9-1-1, they could send texts, photos, video, and sound recordings, giving first-responders more information to address the crisis situation. “A picture is worth a thousand words– but we can’t get that picture yet,” said Ross Coates, Harford County’s Public Safety Manager.
Yesterday’s witnesses included:
Two of Senator Kagan’s constituents have died when 9-1-1 could not be reached. She has traveled across Maryland, visiting emergency call centers and sponsoring legislation that focused on these issues in both 2016 and 2017.
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About Senator Cheryl C. Kagan: Senator Kagan (D) represents District 17, Rockville and Gaithersburg, in the Maryland General Assembly. First elected in 1994 to the House of Delegates, Kagan served two terms before stepping down to work in the non-profit sector. In 2014, Kagan returned to elected office, winning her first term to the Maryland State Senate. Kagan serves on the Education, Health and Environmental Affairs Committee, Joint Audit Committee, and Joint Committee on Federal Relations and is the Senate Chair of the Joint Committee on the Management of Public Funds.