This week, Sen. Bill Nelson filed legislation that would modernize and upgrade the nation’s aging 911 systems, which technology and operability have left behind.
Hurricane Irma illustrated the system’s flaws in Florida. A press release from Nelson’s office noted that 29 of Florida’s emergency 911 call centers had “impaired service” after the storm, with 14 offline altogether.
Nelson’s bill seeks to expand an extant federal grant to help with local 911 system development, including technological upgrades — such as the ability to text or send media files during an emergency.
The current analog technology is a relic of a past decade.
“Upgrading the nation’s 911 system is literally a life and death matter that must become more of a national priority,” Nelson said in a press release Thursday. “In this digital world, Americans must have more than one way to access the 911 assistance they need and expect when emergencies occur.”
In Jacksonville Friday for a press avail, Florida Politics asked Nelson to expand on his comments.
“911 is still operated under analog when we’re in a digital age,” the senator said.
“What we want is 911 modernized,” Nelson said, noting that with a modernized system, a caller could “send a text or send a video, or a picture using up-to-date technology.”
“Today,” Nelson said, “they can’t. They can just make a call.”
The funding piece is still being worked out, but Nelson said that if local governments are compelled to upgrade, there has to be “some financial assistance” from the Feds.