Backup 911 plan moves forward

A multi-county effort to create backup connections for 911 emergency communications has taken another step forward, according to a State College business involved in the initiative.

Mission Critical Partners, a public safety and communications consulting and information technology support firm, announced Monday that the Southern Alleghenies 911 Cooperative was ready to kick off the initiative for which it was formed.

Counties in the cooperative — Blair, Bedford, Cambria, Centre, Hunting­don, Fulton and Somerset — have long been interested in the pursuit, which prompted commissioners in each county to sign agreement for communication links via a fiber-optic network.

Costs involved in the initiative are being covered by the Pennsylvania Emer­gency Management Agency, with revenue from 911 fees paid by telephone users.

Once the project is completed, it’s believed that counties will be able to more easily transfer misdirected emergency calls to the appropriate 911 center. The project’s upgrades are also expected to allow the centers to share more data and provide back-up resources in case a 911 Center becomes disabled.

In its Monday announcement, Mission Critical Partners identified Zito Media of Coudersport as the fiber-optic network provider.

The company also acknowledged that the long-term vision for the initiative is to connect 29 counties across the southwest and south central portions of Pennsylvania.

That’s expected to pave the way for additional upgrades leading to a transition toward the Next Generation 911, the initiative to update and improve the technology used at 911 centers throughout the nation.

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