Kershaw County, S.C., recently announced that it has become the first agency in South Carolina to implement a fully integrated text-to-911 service, choosing a solution provided by Motorola Solution and Intrado.

Although another South Carolina county uses an Internet-based emergency-text system, Kershaw County 911—serving a population of more than 62,500 east of the state capital of Columbia—is the first agency in the state to implement text capability integrated into the 911 system, according to Kirk Stropes, Kershaw County’s deputy director for E-911 communications.

“We did it in a two-step phase, working with Motorola and Intrado,” Stropes said during an interview with IWCE’s Urgent Communications. “We did the IP-networking implementation part first. Then, the second phase was replacing our CPE equipment, which was at its end of life, with Intrado products and integrated everything together.”

Although Kershaw County 911 is capable of receiving Phase II location information—with XY coordinates—for emergency voice calls, the location information accompanying emergency texts currently identifies only the cellular tower being used, as in Phase I, Stropes said. County officials want the more specific location information associated with emergency texts as soon as possible, he said.

“We’re hoping that it’s not that long into the future before we get the Phase II information,” Stropes said. “Our biggest concern is that, if somebody’s texting, it might be an abduction-type incident where they are in the trunk of a car—they know they can’t make a voice call, but they’re texting. With that Phase II information, we can track the movement of that phone, so we can locate them quicker.”

With its upgraded infrastructure, the Kershaw County 911 system is compliant with the i3 architecture established by the National Emergency Number Association (NENA), and officials believe that future emergency interactions with the community are not limited to voice and text, Stropes said.

“We’ve been told that, probably in the next six months, they’re looking at implementing [technology to receive] videos and photos, and possibly crash-notification information,” he said.

Kershaw County officials announced the text-to-911 capability last Tuesday, and the public-safety answering point (PSAP) already has received some emergency texts—most notably, from a woman who heard gunshots and did not want to speak, because she was afraid the gunman would hear her, Stropes said.

However, fears expressed by some staff members that they might be inundated with emergency texts have not realized at this point, Stropes said. Meanwhile, deployment of the text-to-911 solution was straightforward, he said.

“This has been one of the easiest projects I’ve been involved in during my 30-plus years with public safety. The team had a complete agenda and timeline on everything we did, from the very beginning to the completion of the project.”

Tom Guthrie, Motorola Solutions’ vice president of smart public-safety solutions, said the Kershaw County 911 deployment is the latest of many deployments in which Motorola Solutions and Intrado have partnered to provide a solution to a 911 center. In this instance, Intrado’s Advanced 911 text-to-911 solution seemed to be a good fit, he said.

“[Intrado has] been a strategic partner for some time … and they had the best solution for this opportunity, with A-911,” Guthrie said during an interview with IWCE’s Urgent Communications. “There are many cases where Intrado can bring a piece of the solution, and we can be the systems integrator to help pull it all together.”