Southern Illinois 911 gets grant for enhanced system

By Arnold Wyrick
HERRIN, IL (KFVS) - The invention of the cell phone forced emergency call centers around the nation to find new ways of receiving and tracking 911 calls.
Now the emergency alert system in southern Illinois is about to move to a whole new level.  They system is called Smart network.
On Friday U.S. Congressman Jerry Costello set the wheels in motion with some much needed federal funds.
"We were able to earmark $600,000 that will be administered by the Williamson County 911, on behalf of the seventeen counties here in southern Illinois," Congressman Costello said.
The participating counties in this new enhanced 911 system include Williamson, Jackson, Perry, Randolph, Union, Alexander, Pulaski, Johnson, Massac, Saline, Franklin, Jefferson, White, Wabash, Clay and Richland as well as the city of Marion.
It's going to allow 911 dispatchers to get calls they never could before.
"Our current technology doesn't allow for us to get text messages from those people who do not speak or hear.  This will allow us to answer any 911 call anytime, anywhere and from any device in the future," said Jackson County 911 Director Patrick Lustig.
The new system will also link all of the participating counties 911 call centers to one another too.
"With this system having them all connected by a network, the Smart network system will recognize there's an overload in one area or another and it will immediately send those incoming calls to the neighboring counties," said Williamson County 911 Coordinator Ken Smith.
The estimated total cost for this new enhanced 911 system in southern Illinois is between $1.5 million and $2 million.