Around Town | April 29, 2011 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

News - April 29, 2011

Around Town

WHO YOU GONNA TEXT? ... At a time when businesses, teenagers and Middle East protesters are turning more and more toward smartphones and social-media sites, police dispatchers across the nation remain tethered to the past. Citizens in distress still have to dial 9-1-1 the old-fashioned way, even when sending a text message or a video clip could prove more convenient or fruitful. Now, Palo Alto is working with Los Altos and Mountain View on what officials are calling the "Next Generation 9-1-1" — a system that would allow the three cities to accommodate emergency requests from text messages, Internet-based text-messaging clients, video-based clients and other modes of technologies, according to a new report from the Palo Alto Police Department. "For the past 40 years, 9-1-1 calls have depended upon traditional, low-speed, analog telephone infrastructure," the report states. "While the remainder of the business and consumer world has embraced and adopted the use of Internet and wireless technologies, the 9-1-1 infrastructure has remained essentially unchanged." The three cities are upgrading their respective emergency-dispatch systems to both enhance their capability to receive complaints through non-traditional means and to consolidate their respective operations. The new system will allow the three different systems to communicate with one another, a capability they currently don't have.

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