Increased 911 fee to bring in money for new technology at Michigan 911 dispatch centers

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NEGAUNEE, Mich. (WLUC) - 911 Dispatch Centers throughout Michigan will be getting a monetary boost thanks to a bill signed by Gov. Rick Snyder in early March.

Senate Bill 400 is increasing the monthly phone surcharge for 911 service in Michigan from $0.19 to $0.25. The $20.2 million generated from the bill will go directly to all 911 centers in Michigan to upgrade much needed technology. Currently, the Upper Peninsula and parts of northern Lower Michigan have this technology, but roughly half of Michigan's 83 counties do not.

The breakdown of the $20.2 million is as follows:
- 65 percent must be dispersed to all counties that have a 911 plan in place, where 40 percent must be distributed quarterly on an equal basis to each county and the remaining 60 percent must be distributed quarterly based on population
- 25.56 percent must be available to reimburse local exchange providers for costs related to wireless emergency service and IP-based 911 service providers for costs related to wireless transport, routing, or delivery to PSAPs of IP-based 911 emergency services
- 5.5 percent must be available to PSAPs for training personnel assigned to 911 centers
- 1.5 percent must be credited to the Department of State Police to operate a 911 center that receives and dispatches 911 calls
- 2.4 percent must be credited to the Department of State Police for costs of administering this act and to maintain the office of the State 911 Coordinator

Most 911 systems were built with analog technology and are almost 60 years old. The new technology will allow for people to send pictures, videos and text messages to the 911 centers and use GPS to locate callers.

"This is going to make it easier for people to communicate with 911, not only that are in a difficult situation because of what's going on, but also people who have various challenges, that are hard of hearing, that are blind or maybe completely deaf. It's going to allow them to text, which will be a direct contact with 911 and it's going to allow them to send pictures or videos as well, which pictures and videos don't lie, that's the best thing we can get if we can get that," says Kory Dykstra, Communications Supervisor for Michigan State Police Dispatch Center. "We've already experienced it here where text to 911 has let the victims of this type of thing text us while the actor is literally sitting across the room from them. But people are used to people texting or they don't give it a second thought and it's allowed them to get help and keep a situation from escalating more than what it is currently."

The fee will take effect within 60 days of when the bill was signed on March 6.