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Johnson County Launches New 911 System

By Evie Allen
By Randy Livingston

Story Created: Mar 4, 2015 at 7:04 PM CDT (Story Updated: Mar 4, 2015 at 9:19 PM CDT )

VIENNA — The winter storm is giving dispatchers a chance to test new technology in Johnson County. They’ve joined several southern Illinois counties now using a new, improved 911 system that allows for faster response time. Icy, snowy weather leaves lots of drivers on the side of the road. “The weather is giving us a workout. We’ve been getting quite a few calls from the interstate and from the state routes,” said 911 coordinator James Cuff. Cuff calls the rush a good opportunity to break in the new next generation 911 system. It stretches across 15 counties in southern Illinois and dispatches off of a caller’s internet location instead of phone lines. “We also can transfer calls to those counties. And if need be, the other counties can answer one another’s calls,” said Cuff.

The system will help dispatchers better manage calls because its geographical information service provides mapping, making it easier to locate a distressed caller. “This system has a lot more GIS information in it, and addressing information and GIS points in it that help either us or the system determine where the caller is,” explained Cuff. He said the system will eventually accept video and picture messages. “If one of the cellular providers wants to provide that to us tomorrow, all we have to do is go in and turn it on.”
Saline County already has texting setup and officials there say they’ve used it several times.

james cuff 911 operator at his workstation


Cuff said this first of it’s kind upgrade has taken nearly ten years to see.

”We are probably years ahead of everybody else in the United States.

This system is the cutting edge of next generation 911.”
Cuff hopes all 15 counties will begin using the new system by summer. Pulaski County will sign on next.