Newton County, Covington agree to 911 system upgrade

By | November 11, 2020

COVINGTON, Ga. — A next generation 911 system that will help improve accuracy and response times in Newton County will be implemented over the next few years. 

The Covington City Council recently unanimously agreed to enter a supplemental intergovernmental agreement with the Newton County Board of Commissioners and the Covington/Newton County 911 Answering Center Board of Governors to start implementing the new 911 system. According to city documents, the current 911 standard dates to the late 1960s that focuses on landlines.

“However, only about 20% of present day calls to 911 are made via landline phones,” city records state. “Next Generation 911 is a complete rebuild involving new processes, networks and data.”

Mayor Steve Horton, who was recently appointed to the Georgia Emergency Communications Authority Board by Gov. Brian Kemp, called the new generation system a “great improvement in 911 technology.” He said accuracy and response times will be much improved after the system is “coordinated and triangulated” with GTS and GIS technology.

“(It will) not just allow voice call … (you can) also send video and text documents to and through the 911 system,” Horton said.

Horton said the Georgia Emergency Communications Authority would be “very involved” in implementing the next generation 911 system across the state.

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The Georgia Emergency Communications Authority, created in 2018, is governed by a 15-member board of directors appointed by the governor that is comprised of state, local and private sector leaders dedicated to improving 911 and emergency communications in Georgia.

For Newton County, there is no set deadline for implementing the new system, however, city documents stated “it is anticipated it will be phased in over time, beginning on the effective date and with the system going “live” starting in late 2022 or early 2023.

The 911 system upgrade is part of a larger agreement between Covington and Newton County that includes a three-year contract with ESRI through August 2023 in the amount of $210,000 (the city only pays 33.3% or $70,000); a one-year contract for the Consortech/FME Software and Support agreement through May 2021 in the amount of $670 (the city only pays 50%); a one-year contract for the Consortech/FME Coaching agreement through April 2021 in the amount of $4,500 (the city pays only 50%); and a one-year contract for GIS, Inc. through May 2021 in the amount of $20,000 (the city only pays 50%).

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