County enhances communication technology

County enhances communication technology
People that dial 9-1-1 from their cell phones for emergency situations in Clay county, SD may receive quicker response because of new enhancements recently implemented at the Clay Area Emergency Communications 9-1-1 Center.

The 9-1-1 Center in Vermillion now has the ability to locate 9-1-1 cell phone callers. The location of the caller is sent to the 9-1-1 Center in latitude and longitude coordinates. Wireless calls within will initially display the caller's telephone number along with the wireless carrier name and the wireless tower from where the call was sent.

If the location of the wireless 9-1-1 caller is needed the Clay Area 9-1-1 Center can request that information from the wireless carrier. In about 10-15 seconds the latitude and longitude will be sent to the Clay Area 9-1-1 Center.


The location of the wireless caller may not always be sent. One reason is because some cell phones do not have the proper GPS chip installed in the telephone that transmits the location of the 9-1-1 caller when requested. Several years ago the FCC did not require all cell phones to have this GPS chip. As of Dec. 31, 2005, 95 percent of all customer handsets in service had to be GPS capable.

Today, the FCC requires all cell phone manufacturers to have this GPS chip installed. Eventually as cell phones get replaced or upgraded the old phones that did not include a GPS chip will be gone.

Another reason why the location of a cell phone 9-1-1 caller may not be sent would be if you are inside a building in a basement, or a room or hallway and not near windows that would enable your location information to be sent to the Clay Area 9-1-1Center.

In September, the Clay Area 9-1-1 Center installed mapping software from Bullberry Systems, Inc. that gives the 9-1-1 Center the ability to identify on a map the location of cell phone 9-1-1 calls that include the latitude and longitude of the caller as well as the location of 9-1-1 calls from landline calls from residents and businesses in Clay County.

Bullberry Systems, Inc. is based out of Bismark, ND and mapping software they provide allows for 9-1-1 dispatchers to quickly identify the location of the 9-1-1 callers. Their mapping software also provides the quickest route for emergency responders (police, fire and ambulance) along with the capability for the dispatcher to fax a map with directions to Fire and EMS Stations in Clay County.

It is always important to provide your location when dialing 9-1-1. Most people won't know if their cell phone is equipped with the GPS chip that can provide your location. The Clay Area 9-1-1 Center receives location, telephone number, name and address of 9-1-1 calls from resident and business telephones but we always verify your location to make sure we respond to the actual location.

Only about one-third of the counties in South Dakota have the technology to locate wireless 9-1-1 callers based on their actual location.

If you have questions regarding 9-1-1 for Clay County, SD you can contact the Emergency Communications Director, Karen Olson at 605.677.7162.

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