Maryland Next-Gen 9-1-1 Plans to Get Federal Funding Boost

    Maryland’s next-generation 9-1-1 plans are getting a boost from a federal grant.

    The National Telecommunications and Information Administration and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration announced more than $109 million in new funding to upgrade call centers across the country to receive more reliable emergency reports from cell phones, text and video messages, among other new technologies.

    Maryland is expected to receive $1,707,856.

    Maryland lawmakers passed a series of bills this year to upgrade the state’s 9-1-1 system.

    Senate Bill 5 requires counties to notify victims if they are part of a record that has been requested through the Public Information Act and allows counties to consider the victim’s response when deciding whether to release a record publicly.

    Senate Bill 284 replaces references in state law to “9-1-1 public safety telecommunicator” and substitutes “9-1-1 specialist” and encourages counties to compensate 9-1-1 specialists fairly.

    Senate Bill 339 contains the bulk of recommendations for creating a next-generation 9-1-1 system and establishes a new fee structure to pay for upgrades.

    That bill allows the state and counties to double their portions of 9-1-1 fees to cover new next-generation services. The state’s 25-cent share of a monthly telephone fee increased to 50 cents on July 1, and counties are authorized to increase their 75-cent share of the fee up to an additional 75 cents to cover operating costs.

    The bill also imposes the fee on a per-device basis, instead of the current fee, which is imposed only once on a bill no matter the number of lines that receive service.

    Fiscal analysts estimated that the fee changes could bring in an additional $53.7 million annually to get the new program up and running.

    Fees collected under the law can only be used for maintenance of 9-1-1 systems.

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    Danielle E. Gaines
    Danielle Gaines most recently worked for Bethesda Beat covering Montgomery County. Previously, she spent six years at The Frederick News-Post as the paper’s principal government and politics reporter for half that time, covering courts and legal affairs before that. She also reported for the now-defunct The Gazette of Politics and Business in Maryland and previously worked as a county government and education reporter at the Merced Sun-Star in California’s Central Valley.