Where We Were
Until a few years ago, Palm Beach County's 9-1-1 system consisted of 26 individual Public Safety Answering Points, or PSAPs, operated by the County and several municipalities. The system served the public well and provided a reliable means to address the emergency requirements of our citizens and visitors. Over time, the increase in personal communications technology, namely cell phones and medical life alert devices, began presenting challenges that Palm Beach County recognized needed to be addressed to maintain the level of service our citizens and visitors deserved.
Where We Are Now
Unlike years ago when most emergency calls to 9-1-1 where placed from land lines, nearly 80% of all calls to 9-1-1 today are from cell phones. That number is expected to increase as more people choose cell phones as their primary communications device. Palm Beach County utilizes advanced technology that identifies the phone number and location of the caller, even when the caller is mobile and the call is transferred from one cell tower to another. PBC 9-1-1 also uses advanced Geographical Information Systems, or GIS, to accurately display the physical location of the call to the call-taker. This enables the call-taker to quickly and accurately convey the callers location to First Responders. Lastly, the number of PSAPs in Palm Beach County has decreased to 18 in an effort to improve emergency services and reduce operating expenses, while continuing to handle over 1,000,000 calls annually.
Next Generation 9-1-1
A lot has been written and talked about where 9-1-1 technology is headed, and Palm Beach County is in the midst of a number of initiatives to ensure our systems outpace technological advances in communications. We have recently launched Text-to-9-1-1, which promises to bring even more functionality and versatility to those in need of emergency care. A natural follow-on to this enhancement is expected to be Video-to-9-1-1 which in some cases could be a significant tool for First Responders prior to dispatching to the site of the incident. We are also working to simplify a complex network to improve trouble-shooting, systems availability and response times. These are exciting times for Palm Beach County 9-1-1 Program Services and we look forward to providing our citizens and visitors the safest experience possible. Please click here to learn more about Next Generation 9-1-1.