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Summit County Works to update its 911 systems to allow texting

Ohio Statehouse
Statehouse News Bureau
While lawmakers at the Ohio Statehouse in Columbus are mulling over legislation that would require 911 systems throughout the state to be upgraded, Summit County is trying to proactively update its system before a state mandate is put in place.

The Ohio legislature is considering a bi-partisan measure which would require every 911 system in the state to be upgraded to receive text messages.

Mike Banks is the 911 coordinator for Summit County’s Department of Public Safety. He says the option of texting will break down barriers to those with disabilities and anyone more comfortable with texting than talking on the phone.

Banks says both residents and dispatchers will have to learn how to use the system, and it will come with a cost.

Mike Banks on cost of upgrading Summit County's 911 system

“There's going to be a cost impact, just whether or not we're going to be able to recover those costs of the surcharge or whether it's going to be upon the local governments to make room in their budgets to make it happen," Banks said. "I don't think we have a clear understanding yet what all the costs are going to be as part of this system.”

The first step in setting up 911 texting is installing a Computer-Aided Dispatch system. This allows dispatchers to know where callers are located and how close first responders are to them. Summit County already has this operational in Akron, Fairlawn, Cuyahoga Falls, Green and Stow.

Ben Weaver is a Junior journalism student at Kent State University from Southwestern Ohio, in the Dayton area. Ben is pursuing a journalism major with a minor in photography. He is also working as a reporter at the Kent Stater.