Smart911 System to Officially Go Live Soon in Kent Co. - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Smart911 System to Officially Go Live Soon in Kent Co.

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The Kent County 911 Dispatch Center (Photo: WBOC) The Kent County 911 Dispatch Center (Photo: WBOC)

DOVER, Del. (WBOC) - A new system being rolled out in Kent County is making 911 smarter, and officials say it will save lives.

Smart911 officially goes live in Kent County next week. The system allows people to provide dispatchers and first responders with important information before there is an emergency need for it.

Phones are ringing constantly in the Kent County 911 dispatch center. Eric Neeld has been answering them as a dispatcher for about eight months.

"Normally we just get where the person is located on the map, their phone number, sometimes their name - just the basic information," he said.

Of course a dispatcher can get more by talking with a caller, but sometimes getting good info from someone in the middle of an emergency can be tough.

With Smart911, Neeld would get a lot of additional information without even having to ask. The service is free, but you have to sign up.  You set up a safety profile, and you provide the information you'd want dispatchers and first responders to have in an emergency.

Then if you call 911, it all pops up on the dispatcher's screen. It could be photos of pets or people, medical conditions or allergies, how many live in a home or location of bedrooms. Smart 911 also allows people to text with dispatchers, if necessary.

Kent County Department of Public Safety Chief Colin Faulkner said that initially he had privacy concerns for all that information, but the company behind Smart911 addressed them.

"This information is protected," he said. "It's secure. It lives on a protected server. And the only time we'll ever see it is if someone dials 911."

Neeld says when he sees it, it's valuable. More info is always better.

"Any information we can get that's beyond the basics is valuable for us, valuable for the first responders," Neeld said.

"At the end of the day, this program will save lives," said Chief Faulkner.

The Sussex and New Castle County dispatcher centers already have this technology. Smaller centers, like the one for the city of Dover and three in New Castle County, don't have it.

Right now Smart911 service is not available in any of the Maryland or Virginia counties on Delmarva.

However, if you create an account, your information will stay saved in the system for when your area is added to the service and for if you find yourself in any of the 40 states and 1,500 municipalities that use Smart 91 nationwide.

Kent County emergency services is urging people to sign up now before the service officially goes live on Wednesday.

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