SD 911 system could get more backup

Capitol News Bureau

PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — State government’s board that manages South Dakota’s 911 system decided Tuesday to seek more redundancy for emergency callers and to shift some of the burden of aligning rural addresses in counties.

The catch, however, is federal grant money must be used to offset 60% of the cost for each project. Otherwise, the project doesn’t go forward.

The state 911 Coordination Board agreed to temporarily lease technology that will allow emergency calls to go through even when one of South Dakota’s major providers, ATT FirstNet or Verizon, goes down.

State 911 coordinator Maria King said the wireless backup carries a price tag of more than $834,000. The board authorized her to pursue $331,750.80 as the state’s 40% share.

“It’s a little spendy,” said board member Ted Rufledt of Rapid City, “but with the grant funds, it’s affordable.”

King said the state’s share would come from the 911 coordination fund. She also has made a request to tap some of state government’s surplus. “I thought, I may as well try,” she said.

The service would be added to the current 911 system contract with Lumen — formerly known as CenturyLink — that ends in June 2024.

According to King, 27 of the 28 public-service answering points — PSAPs in 911 talk — could use it to cover the last mile.

King said that continuing the redundancy feature could be part of the next round of contract negotiations.

South Dakota suffered temporary losses of 911 service in some areas several years ago.

The board also supported getting a transitional database management system that would help blend the master street address guide and GIS information that counties use for steering first responders to emergencies.

King said some rural counties have struggled trying to combine the two data sets. A company called Intrado would do much of the work instead.

State government would pay $142,802 of the $357,005 price, provided a federal grant covered the rest.

King told the board that county officials responsible for the GIS work wear 10 other hats and are pulled in 20 different directions. She said they often have difficulty making GIS work a priority.

“I can attest to the fact this is worth its weight in gold,” board member Rufledt said. He spoke from experience with Jackson County. “This is exactly what the 911 board was set up to do.”

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