Northern Michigan 911 Providers Looking at Ways to Increase Connectivity
911 providers in 11 northern Michigan counties are looking at ways they can work together to share technology and save money. Northwest Michigan 911 CONNECT (Collaborating Neighbors for Networks of Emergency Communications & Technology) is made up of representatives from Antrim, Benzie, Charlevoix, Cheboygan, Emmet, Grand Traverse, Kalkaska, Leelanau, Manistee, Missaukee, and Wexford counties. The group is exploring ways they can voluntarily collaborate for greater public responsiveness, flexibility, and long-term cost savings.
“We’re looking at how we can collectively take advantage of available technology to bring our 911 centers to a level of functionality that is expected in today’s world and to prepare for the continued evolution of 911,” said Ed Boettcher, an Antrim County commissioner and 911 CONNECT member.
The group is not looking at consolidation. They would like to develop fiber and microwave networks that would provide for sharing of equipment, software, and dispatchers while maintaining local 911 call centers. The improved connectivity would also provide redundancy and a multi-layered back up capability.
“The public expects our 911 call centers to accept and process the best technology available,” said Boettcher. “They want the best services we can afford to provide.”
A collaborative 911 network is already being used in the Upper Peninsula. Representatives from the 911 CONNECT counties learned about that project and other issues related to 911 service at a recent symposium in Traverse City. The group will continue to meet on a regular basis and each of the counties involved in the discussion will be able to decide on a case by case basis if they want to be involved in any future projects.
911 CONNECT is being convened and facilitated by the Northwest Michigan Council of Governments.