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June 16, 2011

Qwest Improves 911 Emergency Services at Salt Lake Valley Center

By Rajani Baburajan, TMCnet Contributor

Qwest (News - Alert), which is now CenturyLink, is improving emergency communications at Salt Lake Valley as part of its process of implementing a next generation 911 dispatch system at Salt Lake Valley Emergency Communications Center (VECC).

The company is providing necessary bandwidth to enhance the communications between residents needing help and the emergency services they require. The new NG 911 services network from Qwest is more robust, flexible and scalable.

A major capability of the emergency communications systems is its diverse routing, so emergency calls can be redirected as necessary during major incidents, or when receiving exceptionally high volumes of emergency calls so that no calls for help go unanswered.

VECC, which serves the largest population center in Utah, says the new high-speed network and database improvements are already connecting cell phone calls with the 911 center faster. 

William (Bill) Harry, director, VECC, said, “We will eventually move our emergency response system from voice-only communications to a secure Internet Protocol (IP) data and voice system. By working with Qwest, we are gaining new capabilities to respond to the emergency needs of the communities we serve.”

VECC will complete the implementation in two to three years. Once fully implemented, the system will give VECC the ability to receive text messages, photos and vehicle crash notifications, including data on the likely injuries to passengers from automobile concierge services such as On-Star, Sync, and others. By transferring this information to responders, VECC can enhance public safety for all residents.

The new system of emergency communications also covers individuals who are deaf, hard of hearing, or have a speech disability. It will give impaired individuals new capabilities for contacting 911 directly, according to VECC officials.

“This network places Utah at the forefront with one of the most advanced 911 systems available,” said Jeff Waters, vice president of sales and education services at Qwest in a statement. “Because the network is highly scalable, the 911 system will serve the current and future needs of the Salt Lake Valley community.”

Rajani Baburajan is a contributing editor for TMCnet. To read more of Rajani's articles, please visit her columnist page.

Edited by Tammy Wolf

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