Bowling Green has been selected to receive a $245,000 grant to upgrade the city’s 911 system.
Bowling Green city commissioners voted in May to apply for the grant from the Kentucky 911 Services Board to upgrade the 911 system at the police department to a next-generation internet protocol-based system that, when fully operational, will allow the public to relay digital information to emergency responders.
The plan also includes installing an AT&T call-handling platform with two geographically diverse host installation locations, one in Madisonville and the other in Pikeville, so that either location can handle the call volume and digital traffic if the other location goes dark.
“The City of Bowling Green is pleased to be selected as a recipient for a grant to assist in upgrading our 911 call center’s capabilities,” Mayor Bruce Wilkerson said in an email. “The Bowling Green Police Department has always tried to maintain the best system it could to serve the citizens of our community and this $245,000 grant will help in that effort.”
A timetable has not been established for the upgrades.
“We are attempting to develop a timeframe for each stage of the project,” BGPD spokesman Officer Ronnie Ward said. “Future technology will allow people to send photos, videos and texts to 911. The ability to communicate in various ways could help someone who may not be able to verbally communicate at all.”
Gov. Matt Bevin said in a May news release that it is important for Kentucky’s 911 call centers to implement next-generation digital technology. Bevin issued an executive order May 17 reorganizing the Kentucky 911 Services Board. His order makes note of only two public safety answering points, more commonly referred to as 911 call centers, in Kentucky that actively used text-to-911 as of the end of fiscal year 2016.
The total projected cost of the upgrades to the system at BGPD is anticipated to be $420,000, according to a memo from grants coordinator Nick Cook to City Manager Kevin DeFebbo. With $245,000 in grant funding, the remainder of the balance, $175,000, will come from the police department budget.
“The Bowling Green Police Department’s 911 center is the public safety answering point for virtually all Warren County 911 calls,” BGPD Chief Doug Hawkins said in a written statement Tuesday. “Like most technology-based equipment, 911 phone systems continue to benefit from improving technology and improving functionality.
“This upgrade will allow us to incorporate the newest and most reliable 911 phone technology into our 911 center to allow us to best serve our community,” he said.
Hawkins thanked Bevin, the Kentucky Office of Homeland Security and the Kentucky 911 Services Board for providing the grant funding.
“Bowling Green residents rely on an effective response system in times of emergencies,” Rep. Jim DeCesare, R-Bowling Green, said in a news release from the House Republican Caucus. “To keep our systems current, we must always be updating them to meet to latest technology standards and in turn keep our residents safe. I commend everybody involved to securing this important funding to update one of the most important systems in our communities.”
In total, $3.6 million in grant funding was dispersed statewide for 911 call center projects.
“This upgrade will have widespread impact on the emergency responder services for all of Warren County,” Rep. Michael Meredith, R-Oakland, said in the caucus release. “It’s vital we have the best 911 infrastructure possible, and we must have funding to ensure that happens, especially in today’s environment of constant advancement.”
– Follow Assistant City Editor Deborah Highland on Twitter @BGDNCrimebeat or visit bgdailynews.com.