Columbia's Joint Communications to Upgrade 9-1-1 System

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COLUMBIA - Columbia/Boone County Public Safety Joint Communications, PSJC, will upgrade its Enhanced 9-1-1 Telephone System on Wednesday. Interim Operations Manager Joe Piper said the Sentinel Patriot E9-1-1 upgrade is important because the current system is becoming obsolete.

The new system will put PSJC in a position to be able to receive text messages, photos and videos from 9-1-1 callers in the future. The new system can also be installed in multiple locations. That means Emergency Telecommunicators (ETCs) will be able to answer emergency and non-emergency calls in other areas of Boone County if the Operations Center had to relocate in an emergency.

Piper said callers will notice the following changes with the new system:

  • A voice recording on the non-emergency telephone number 442-6131: This will allow callers to reach some of the most frequently called agencies directly while at the same time allowing Emergency Telecommunicators, ETCs, to focus on emergency 9-1-1 calls.
  • 911 callers may hear a recording if all ETCs are busy. 

Piper says the time it takes for ETCs to process calls will not change. However, callers will receive a message acknowledging that their call is being received instead of the call just ringing for an extended period of time. Piper says callers will get to the first available ETC if they remain on the line. 

In a press release Piper said, "Our preference is that all 9-1-1 calls be answered immediately...However, that's not always possible with the limited number of ETCs on staff at PSJC."

The money to purchase the Patriot E9-1-1 Software came from funds from the 9-1-1 surcharge on landline bills. The purchase was approved by the Boone County Commission.