Palo Alto Daily News: Eshoo pushes funding bill so 911 dispatchers can accept photos, videos and text messages

August 2, 2011
In The News

Rep. Eshoo recently spoke with Diana Samuels of the Palo Alto Daily News about her legislation to help implement next generation 9-1-1.  An excerpt of the article is below:

Someday soon, a person whose house is being robbed will be able to text 911 for help while hiding inside a closet or send police dispatchers a cellphone video of the thief driving away.

As a group of Peninsula cities are moving to implement "Next-Generation 9-1-1" systems that allow emergency dispatch centers to accept photos, videos and text messages that have become standard fare for many cellphone users, Rep. Anna Eshoo is working to advance the systems on a national level.

Eshoo, D-Palo Alto, recently introduced a bill that would provide federal money to help local agencies buy the new technology.

"Our call centers are the first line of defense for people in emergency situations," Eshoo said. "Parents train their children, when they basically learn how to talk, what 911 is. ... (Dispatch centers) field more than 650,000 calls a day across the country -- imagine that -- but most are not equipped to receive anything other than basic phone calls."

Palo Alto, Mountain View and Los Altos are preparing a "virtual consolidation" of their dispatch centers so they can share equipment and handle each other's incoming calls during busy periods. A key part of that consolidation will be implementing a Next-Generation 9-1-1 system, said Charlie Cullen, technical services director with the Palo Alto Police Department. The cities plan to go out to bid for a Next-Generation 9-1-1 system early next year.

To read the full article, please click here.