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Juneau County, Dells receive more than $170,000 in grants for 9-1-1 upgrades

Juneau County, Dells receive more than $170,000 in grants for 9-1-1 upgrades

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The Juneau County Sheriff’s Office and Wisconsin Dells Police Department are receiving grants of $102,636.19 and $72,921, respectively, for the implementation of Next-Gen-911 equipment.

“The Office of Emergency Communications (OEC) awarded 24 grant projects totaling $2.1 million in federal funding to local public safety answering points (PSAPs) across Wisconsin,” said Andrew Beckett with the Office of Emergency Communications. “Funding will be used for various projects related to the upgrade/replacement of existing end of life equipment to be NextGen9-1-1 capable.”

In Juneau County the project will cost a total of $171,060.31, with the difference between the grant funding and final cost provided by the county.

According to Beckett, Wisconsin received $2.9 million in federal grant funding for NextGen9-1-1 systems, with Public Safety Answering Point agencies who responded to a statewide 9-1-1 assessment survey eligible to apply for funds usable for hardware and software replacement.

NextGen9-1-1 equipment is an upgrade over the currently used technology, which was implemented before the invention of cell phones, tablets, smart watches, and other mobile devices.

“The 9-1-1 equipment that belongs to the phone company is technology from the 1950s, it’s old and outdated, so they need to upgrade things on their end and they can’t do that until we purchase 9-1-1 equipment that will plug into them,” said Juneau County Sheriff’s Office Dispatch Supervisor Michelle Lobenstein. “This (grant) is for 9-1-1 equipment at Juneau County. After the state creates a statewide ESINet (Emergency Services Internet Protocol Network) then we’ll be able to plug into that statewide network.”

Lobenstein says the grant money will go towards new hardware, software and training for dispatch officers in the county. Dispatchers using the new system will have increased functionality, including allowing better geolocation, transferring of calls “all over,” and the ability to receive pictures, videos and other forms of data. The system should also be able to evolve as new technology emerges.

“Right now there are phone companies… and we plug into their phone system,” Lobenstein said. “Eventually there will be a statewide system that each Public Safety Answering Point, PSAP, will be able to plug into that statewide system, and it’ll be easier for interoperability… Technology has changed so much since then so they’re trying to get us off those old switches on the phone company.”

Juneau County is still in the early stages of planning for the installation of the equipment, but Lobenstein says the county’s portion of the system should be installed by the end of the year.

Reach Christopher Jardine on Twitter @ChrisJJardine or contact him at 608-432-6591.

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