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Today’s cellphones contain more computing power in a single device than the Apollo mission spacecraft used by NASA to go to the moon in 1969. We have the capability to do nearly anything with our phones today. We can Google any question, place a call, text, take photos, shoot video, and communicate any of these things with anyone in the world — except 911. The copper wires which connected old phones in the kitchen during the 1960s is the same infrastructure carrying your call to 911, and not much else. We have, to date, been modestly successful in patching this nearly five-decade old system so it works with modern technology, but it cannot continue to handle the bandwidth required for the way Michigan communicates today.

Michiganians have come to expect 911 to be able to find them. Just as the pizza delivery person can find them on their phone’s pizza app; they expect to be able to located by a 911 call or a text to 911. As has been the case in every tragedy since the Virginia Tech shooting, texts cannot always get through or be responded to. Yet, citizens expect to communicate in the same way they communicate with friends, neighbors, and businesses, but 911’s 1960s infrastructure cannot handle these modern technologies. There is a solution, however. Senate Bill 400, currently in the Michigan House of Representatives would provide Michigan with a fiber optic 911 backbone which can handle any manner in which we choose to contact 911. This new system is called Next Generation 911.

Next Generation 911 will help operators pinpoint a caller’s location, allow texting to and from 911, and allow first responders to have as much information as possible while in route to the scene. As a result, 911 will be more efficient, will allow more informed responses to calls for service, and will result in safer communities in every part of Michigan. SB 400 needs to be passed for this to occur. This updated system will save lives. Please join us in urging the Michigan House of Representatives to pass SB 400 and make Michigan safer.

Anthony Wickersham, Macomb County sheriff

Michael Bouchard, Oakland County sheriff

Benny Napoleon, Wayne County sheriff

James Craig, Detroit police chief

Robert Shelide, Shelby Township police chief

president, Southeast Michigan

Association of Chiefs of Police

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