By January 2013, the Federal Communication Commission will require all emergency radio systems to comply with a mandate that affects all 911 call centers, police, and firefighters.
The mandate forces everyone to operate on a lower bandwidth, a process called narrow-banding, to help free up critical emergency traffic.
Blount County has been preparing for the switch for 10 years and will have it ready to operate on July 16th.
It has cost them more than $4 million, but emergency leaders say it will not only make their communication clearer but residents safer.
"To say we were due for a change is an understatement to say the least," said Blount County's E911 Director Jeff Caylor.
"I've been in the business almost 38 years and the technology is the same as it was back then," said Maryville Police Chief Tony Crisp.
Right now Caylor said the analog system only allows each agency one frequency and that causes crowding in the system.
"If an officer is in trouble, then he's going to have to wait until that frequency is cleared up," Caylor said.
Crisp, who is also Maryville's Public Safety Officer, says these problems will be solved with the new digital system. It allows agencies to form radio groups or "talk groups" that free up critical emergency frequencies.
The system will also eliminate many of the dead spots in the county and give emergency workers crystal clear transmission.
"We tested some 1,900 sites in the county and the test results come back higher than our expectations," said Crisp.
"It's literally like talking to someone sitting in the room with you," said Caylor.
They will have direct access to 12 other county's emergency radios through the Tennessee Valley Corridor System infrastructure. It will allow law enforcement to communicate directly with deputies in those counties and not have to go through their dispatch centers.
"If it keeps one person from getting into a critical situation then in my opinion it's paid for itself right there," said Caylor.
Blount County will begin using the digital system on the week of July 16th.
Agencies involved include Maryville Police and Fire, Alcoa Police and Fire and Blount County Sheriff's Office.