Posted at: 08/14/2012 11:12 PM
| Updated at: 08/14/2012 11:15 PM
By: Dan Bazile
TROY -- We're used to dialing 911 for emergencies. It's etched in our brain from infancy. But perhaps dialing 911 is becoming a little too 20th century.
"Younger people are texting instead of calling a lot more," said Rensselaer County Legislator Harry Tutunjian.
Young people, middle aged and even the older folks are texting. It's the reason behind the growing push to bring 911 into the 21st century, so someday you might be able to say in case of an emergency text 911.
It's called Next Gen 911. Rensselaer County is among many places in the state considering the system. County officials approved a resolution on Tuesday to begin the process and to see how much it would cost.
"I don't know what the cost will be in the end. But I think it's an important addition to the 911 system," Rensselaer County Legislator Ed Manny said.
To make it happen statewide, John Merklinger, president of the New York State 911 Coordinators association said it could cost about $1.5 billion. And it will allow texters to send pictures and video to 911 dispatch centers. He said many counties like Rensselaer may have to change or upgrade their computer systems to make sure they're up to snuff with social media.
But Merklinger said Next Gen 911 technology is not quite ready yet. The cell phone industry and 911 officials continue to tweak it. In the short term, he said current software could cost each county up to $150 thousand a year. Merklinger said there is a need because many kids and college students believe it's already possible to text 911.