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Lawmakers working to update Maryland's 911 system

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Posted at 8:18 PM, Jan 23, 2019
and last updated 2019-01-23 20:18:10-05

ANNAPOLIS, Md. — When tragedy strikes, we call 911.

Usually, there is a fast response, but the system is old and outdated.

Some law makers in Annapolis say our states 911 system is antiquated.

"We are still using 50-year-old technology, no one would use a 50-year-old telephone or a 50-year-old computer and have confidence that it is going to do the job," said Senator Kagan.

Senator Kagan heads a commission set up to look at the next generation of 911 systems in Maryland. They are one-year into a two-year study.

"Maryland is behind twenty-two other states in transitioning to next generation 911," said Kagan.

Some of the early recommendations from the commission are enhanced geographic information systems to help first responders locate the emergency more accurately increase fees that pay for the 911 system and to be able to receive text, photos and videos.

"If there's a bad guy in your house and cowering in the closet, today you would have to pick up the phone and dial 911, and give your home address and talk to a person. If you were able to text you get someone there more quickly and more safely for you," said Kagan.

Being able to text to 911 would help those with hearing disabilities as well.

The next generation 911 commission says maintaining an old system is becoming costly.

"Maintaining it becomes a problem and it becomes a tremendous expense. In today's world we all know with voiceover IP's there are different ways and better technology to communicate," said Richard Brooks III, Director of Emergency Services in Cecil County.

Senator Kagen says the cost to upgrade the state's 911 system would be 30 to 40 million dollars and 5 to 10 million annually to keep it up to date.