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Troup County looks at new 911 technology

By Alicia B. Hill
Times-News

Not all emergencies come with clear addresses, so Troup County E911 has been testing technology that would give first responders accurate, real-time information on 911 callers.

On Thursday, Troup County E911 Director Jason Lawson spoke to the Troup County Board of Commissioners about RapidSOS technology that would allow E911 to get coordinates directly from cell phones, instead of relying on approximate locations based on cell phone towers.

“It is a software that basically complements what we already have in place,” Lawson said. “This is for an Apple or Android device through the major carriers where we are able to get a location from the cellphone directly instead of it pinging and triangulating off of towers. In event we had a stranded boat motor on the lake — or something like that — we’d be able to get a better location from these guys.”

Lawson said Troup County E911 has been testing out the technology for the last few weeks, and the department had good experience with it so far.

He said that other agencies have had good experiences with the technology as well.

“This improves the accuracy,” Lawson said. “This [example] was 95 percent confident that it was within 5 meters, which is within 15 feet.”

County Commission Chairman Patrickasked if the technology would make it easier to track ambulance locations, and Lawson said that tracking has already been made easier through partnerships with AMR and City of LaGrange IT.

Lawson said RapidSOS will however improve responsiveness to emergencies involving Uber drivers.

“Another benefit is that it has got the Uber panic button attached to it, so if there was an Uber driver or Uber passenger that needed the law, there is a button you can push there in that app now that would give us where the ride started from, who they are, the car, the make, the tag, the driver’s name,” Lawson said. “We are one of the first few agencies in Georgia to get this. Another agency in Georgia within their first week of using this were able to help an Uber driver that was being assaulted. They were able to pin point where he was.”

Lawson said that the American Heart Association has helped to pay for the app, and an upcoming campaign from the AHA may allow citizens who opt in to the system to transmit health information to first responders in cases like life alerts.

Additionally, RapidSOS would make it possible to track a phone that made an emergency call for up to 20 minutes after a hang up, which Lawson said could be useful in the case of disputes where the caller does not intentionally end the call.

Other topics covered during the work session on Thursday included:

Newly hired County Planner Erin Johnson greeted the board of commissioners. Johnson officially began working for the county in her new position on Aug. 7.

The board of commissioners heard a request to lift the hiring freeze for the Troup County Elections Department in order to hire a budgeted part time employee.

Senior Building Official Jay Anderson updated the commission on the status of the 2019 CIE annual update report and transmittal resolution.

The public hearing for the draft of the resolution that will be submitted to the Georgia Department of Community Affairs and the Three Rivers Regional Commission will be on Tuesday at 9 a.m. at 100 Ridley Avenue.

County Engineer James Emery requested that the board lift the hiring freeze in order to replace a road superintendent, who is planning to retire. Emery said that the position is vital to the department, and he hoped to have some overlap in the position in order to allow for a transition period.

The board of commissioners discussed the purchase of a MowerMax Boom with a 60-inch rotary swivel head in order to clear vegetation hanging over roadways in areas where officials say the current equipment cannot safely reach.

Mosley said the mower will be funded using SPLOST funds.

The board of commissioners discussed the purchase of a new administration vehicle for the Troup County Fire Department to be paid for through SPLOST.

The Troup County Board of Commissioners will meet again on Tuesday at 9 a.m. at 100 Ridley Avenue.

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