The Legislative Arkansas Blue Ribbon Committee on Local 911 Systems will hear an update on early findings of a statewide report on emergency call systems Friday. The committee aims to set quality standards and address issues with 911 systems around the state.
In its preliminary report, the committee identified issues, including funding gaps for certain counties that have not passed a local surcharge for 911 service.
North Little Rock’s 911 dispatch coordinator Gary Gray is on the committee, and says his department has suffered from declining revenues as residents have canceled land line telephones.
"Landline fees across the state of Arkansas are dropping. People are opting to have their home phone turned off and only have access to mobile phones at that point," he said.
According to Gray, cell phones don’t generate as much revenue for 911 centers as landline telephones did.
"It requires our center to ask the city [for funds] out of general revenue to continue to operate. And whenever 911 was implemented, it was supposed to be self supported, that the fees coming in for the surcharges and fees would support the 911 center today. It's not," he said.
So far, several issues identified in the report include the lack of a central entity to oversee 911 service providers, different approaches to running the systems at the county level and a lack of broadband connectivity in the state.
The committee is continuing its study, which will be completed in January of 2015.