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(WBIR- Anderson County) A national initiative is helping Clinton's 911 dispatch center get an overdue upgrade. It's happening for the first time since 1997, according to Chuck Peters, Clinton dispatch supervisor.

The updates include new recording systems, radios, telephone lines, 911 lines, and maps, he said.

It's part of a nationwide initiative called Next Generation 911, Peters said. The program aims to improve emergency communication with mobile devices.

"We went from just strictly home phones and land lines to cell phones, and that changed everything," Peters said.

He said dispatchers could see exactly where a call was coming from with land lines, but cell phones make it harder to pinpoint a person's location.

The old equipment had some problems that needed to be addressed, Peters said, including bad sound on phone calls, addresses not showing up exactly like they should, and delays in radio communication to officers.

"When we had the old equipment since 1998 or 1997, you develop a lot of problems," he said. "and as a dispatcher, you learn to live with them and overcome the problems. It's nice not to worry about problems. Everything works perfect here now."

Peters said Clinton is prepared for people to send text messages, pictures, and videos to 911 in the future. He said the phone companies have to update their technology to make this possible.

"With next generation 911, I see a bank robber. Here's a picture of the vehicle. Here's a picture of the tag. Here's a picture of the suspect," he said. "We can send that out to the cars in the field so I imagine the results will be great."

Peters said the new center was paid for by Next Generation 911 grants from the state and 911 charges from land lines.

The updated equipment means faster emergency service response times for Clinton residents, he said.

"Instead of just calling, we're ready for that now, although the phone companies aren't," Peters said. "The city of Clinton is ready for it."

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