Board discusses 911 plan

Published 3:50 pm Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Stefanie McGuffin with the Virginia Information Technologies Agency speaks with the Lunenburg County Board of Supervisors in reference to a statewide initiative to improve localities’ 911 operating system during Thursday’s board meeting.

Members of the Lunenburg County Board of Supervisors chose to wait until more information could be gathered about statewide plans to upgrade current 911 operations.

The initiative is from Commonwealth of Virginia and the Virginia Information Technology Agency (VITA), which is looking to implement Next Generation 911 (NG 911) system for localities that would upgrade current 911 operations.

The county’s contact for this plan is Major DJ Penland with the Lunenburg County Sheriff’s Office.

Stefanie McGuffin, operations manager with VITA, gave a presentation to the board about the developing plan.

Fairfax County’s current NG 911 contract is with AT&T.

Lunenburg’s 911 Public Safety Answering Points (PSAP) plan has been organized in advance of a trend throughout Virginia to improve its 911 service. The goal of the state is to have PSAPs, including the system in Lunenburg, fully deployed with the National Emergency Number Association i3 standard. The i3 PSAP standard can receive Internet Protocol (IP) signaling for delivering emergency calls.

“This standard states that all 9-1-1 calls are delivered to the PSAP on Internet Protocol (IP) circuits with associated caller location data,” documentation from the meeting board packet cited.

McGuffin said the new plan would allow calls to be more quickly and efficiently transferred to the correct 911 centers and use multimedia emergency services, such as texting to 911.

She estimated that for Lunenburg County, after assessing the county’s current 911 system, the cost to upgrade the county’s system and equipment would be approximately $216,000.

McGuffin said VITA also worked with AT&T and CenturyLink to determine the cost of installing new fiber connections for the NG 9-1-1 system. For Lunenburg, it would come to approximately $571,000.

McGuffin said the state would compensate most of the cost for the fiber connections and system upgrades.

If Lunenburg decides to make AT&T its provider, McGuffin said the state would compensate the county for the $1,800 monthly payments for 24 months.

“You are paying a little more for the service in the future,” McGuffin said. “But you get a lot more for the service as well.”

McGuffin said it would be up to the county how it would want to proceed with the upgrade.

“It is a local service, and it is a local decision,” McGuffin said. Concerning the plan, McGuffin said she believes it is a “solid solution.”

Plymouth District Supervisor T. Wayne Hoover commented on the plan and asked if it would make sense for the county to wait until there were other bids available, allowing the county to have choices in what plans would work best.

Hoover, in an interview after the meeting, said it is possible that phone companies other than AT&T could respond to surrounding counties’ Request for Proposals (RFP), providing newer data and giving Lunenburg County additional options from which to choose.

“We just want to see all … options,” Hoover said in the interview, “and then we’ll obviously go with the best one that suits the county’s needs.”