Life-saving new 911 system comes to Blackwell in 2022

by Charles Gerian

The City of Blackwell will install a state-ofthe-art 911 system this year, in 2022, that will go a long way toward saving lives and making emergency services more inclusive, Chief of Police Dewayne Wood said.

The new system, Next Generation 911, will be the most high-tech operating service of its kind in the area and will offer advanced measures, including video-calling, pinpoint GPS location, texting and translation features.

The system will be housed in a secure bunker in Oklahoma City, so in the event of a catastrophic disaster, Blackwell’s 911 system can get back online and provide services in almost no time at all.

“It’s incredible new technology,” Wood said. “This will be our first upgrade since 2014, and before that, our last 911 system was from probably the late 1980s.” Wood said that, with the current 911 system, locations are triangulated based on cell towers and available data. But the results aren’t always completely accurate or, sometimes, even fully registered.

“With this new system, we can find someone’s location within a matter of feet,” Wood said.

“In the event it doesn’t have time to register the location, the caller will get sent a text from our system with a link that, when clicked, will automatically send the location to us.”

This kind of accurate location reading is crucial for calls coming from along Interstate 35 or in the countryside.

“We get calls from people who might just be passing through, especially on the interstate,” Wood said.

“Sometimes, they have difficulty spotting a mile marker or any signs. Same thing in the country. With this new system, that won’t be a problem any longer, and we’ll be able to get them help with more accuracy than ever before.”

Another feature, one that Wood said he is excited about, is the ability to translate text messages.

“If we have a caller that is deaf, non-verbal or a non-native English speaker, they will have the option to text with our dispatcher,” Wood said.

“If the caller doesn’t speak English, they will be able to text us in their language, and it will be translated to our dispatchers. When we text them back, it will come through in that same language. It’s incredible technology that will be incredibly beneficial to us, especially right here on the interstate.”

Blackwell’s dispatchers will also be able to enter into video-calls with callers. Wood said the city’s 911 center covers the northwest third of Kay County. While a majority of calls come from inside the city limits, a large portion comes from the interstate.

“When the roads get really bad, especially in the winter, a lot of calls come in off of I-35,” he said.

“It gets hard to see out there. Some people just see nothing but snow and ice. With this, we’ll be able to provide life-saving emergency service with more accuracy than ever before.” The new system is expected to go live this month.