Madison Heights moves to Next Gen 911

Callers will be able to text, send pics and videos during emergencies

By: Andy Kozlowski | Madison - Park News | Published April 4, 2017

MADISON HEIGHTS — Imagine you’re in a situation where your life’s in danger but you’re unable to use your voice. Maybe you’re caught in the middle of a bank robbery, or maybe you’ve been injured and can’t talk — but you can still access your smartphone. What do you do?

With Madison Heights moving to Next Gen 911, along with the rest of Oakland County, you will now be able to call for help in other ways, via text messages, and pictures and videos.

“I think it’s an incredible step forward,” said Madison Heights Mayor Pro Tem Mark Bliss. “We’re very excited that this technology is available since we can make our residents safer.”

Oakland County is the overall provider of Next Gen 911, and it has enlisted a company called Emergency Call Works and other subcontractors to implement it. Now the city of Madison Heights has approved its end of the deal, at a project cost of about $90,000. The system is set to be installed this May, but it may be a bit longer before it’s fully operational.

“It is a direct benefit to all of our citizens,” said Madison Heights Police Chief Corey Haines in an email. “We will soon be able to locate the caller within just a few feet of where the call originated, providing life-sustaining services much more efficiently. The new system will also allow for the receipt of text to 911, which will also assist our citizens by allowing someone who, for one reason or another, may not be able to speak but can text an emergency message.”

All information will be transmitted directly to the Madison Heights Police Department, which will be equipped with new answering points for dispatch, in the form of computer consoles that interface with the new 911 call-taking equipment. There will be additional answering points for other phones near dispatch to allow for more 911 lines to be answered. All new call-taking equipment will be installed in the department’s communications room, and the county is handling the all-new fiber-optic lines.  

Bliss said that Next Gen 911 is another example of technology improving lives, in addition to the city’s Nixle alert system for smartphone users, CrimeMapping software for residents, and the upcoming redesign of the city website.

“This is part of a larger push by council to modernize every department, from the library to (the Department of Public Services) to the police station,” Bliss said. “Budget limitations make it such that we can’t do it all in one fell swoop, but incrementally we’re making changes, and I’m proud of it.

“We have to be very, very specific with the prioritization and how to budget effectively to make these changes, but we’ve made a lot of changes so far, and every time we replace a piece of equipment, we’re doing so with modern technology every single time,” he added. “Next Gen 911 is an example of that, where it’s a single item that’s highly impactful and a major upgrade. And we’ll continue to build on top of that in the future.”