VECC Executive Director William Harry explains, “In the future you’ll be able to hold up the cell phone and take a picture of a fire and send it off to 911.”
The move is being driven by the public’s use of technology. 70 percent of VECC’s calls come from cell phones.
“The culture is going towards texting,” explained Harry. “Texting is becoming, while it’s not the primary means of reaching 911, it has the possibility of being a very close second.”
The new data-based system will allow someone to call 911 without ever having to say a word.
Lori Breeze is a concerned mother who likes the idea of being able to call emergency personnel by sending a text. “Like in a home invasion, so that would be great to have your phone on you to be able to text it especially when you can’t talk if someone is in your home.”
While the technology is there, it’s a couple of years before people can text 911. That’s because as it currently stands even though someone can send a text, it’s not always guaranteed it will get there.
Harry explained, “In a 911 system it guarantees if you call 911 you’re going to get to where you need to go."
Aside from allowing callers to eventually send in pictures and texts, the first internet protocol 911 system in the state, already links the communications center with Weber County and the Utah Highway Patrol.
Harry explained, “If we, for example, are overwhelmed we can request Weber area call center log on for us and answer our calls for us.”
The system, which went operational in December, would have been extremely helpful during the Herriman fire last year.
“With the system we have in place now we can segregate those calls and areas maybe that aren’t involved with it and have someone else handle those calls,” said Harry.