AST: Alaska needs a 'next generation 911 system'
Not every 911 call in Alaska is treated the same way-- it all depends on where you live-- and that's something the director of the Alaska State Troopers wants to change.
"We need a very robust, next-generation 911 system," said AST Colonel Hans Brinke.
Outside of Alaska's more densely populated areas, a 911 call isn't so simple.
In Aniak, for example, a call bounces around two to three times before information about the emergency gets to the trooper who is positioned to respond.
"A call might go to one location for a 1-800 number, then it gets transferred to dispatch in Fairbanks who has to call the on-call trooper-- who may be in Aniak or one of the outlining villages, depending on where the resources are-- then we have to call back," Brinke explained.
Those calls can't be recorded as evidence or easily traced if the signal drops.
"What we're looking at trying to do is come up with a next-generation 911 system, so if you call on your cellphone, it tells us who you are and where you're at. If we don't know where you're at, we can't respond to you today. That's the most important thing that we see as the state's need right now," said Brinke.
In 2018, Brinke says Alaska is behind.
"We know that the crime rate is going up-- whether you're in rural or whether you're in urban areas-- so, everybody deserves that equal opportunity for public safety."
Governor Bill Walker's proposed Public Safety Action Plan includes enhanced 911 service and a statewide dispatch center.
Brinke says AST is hoping for an additional $2.5 million in its budget this legislative session to get started on the project. Phase one includes a designated facility to house the dispatch center. Phase two would include hiring and training employees; a third phase would entail implementing the technology.
KTVA reached out to the chairs of the House and Senate budget subcommittees for public safety to get their thoughts on the proposal but has not yet heard back.
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