Fort Worth council members reviewed an informal report discussing updates for Next Generation 911 technology during the March 7 work session.

Next Generation 911 is a digital, internet protocol aimed at replacing current analog technology, which has been in place for decades. According to the informal report, the new 911 technology will help police more accurately locate a caller, ensure calls are routed to the right center, and enable call transfers and data sharing across jurisdiction and county lines. It is also meant to improve customer service as well as scene and responder safety with real-time updates on evolving situations.

In addition, Next Generation 911 will allow for different media types, such as pictures and videos, to be sent to emergency responders. The new protocol has an estimated cost of $30 million. The Tarrant County 911 District has received $12 million in American Rescue Plan Act funds to cover costs. To obtain the remaining funds, the district plans to stop providing grants to 34 public safety answering points in Tarrant County, per the informal report.

The district is currently eyeing cutting two programs, the radio assistance program and the public safety answering point assistance program, which could redirect up to $3 million toward implementing Next Generation 911 in Tarrant County. A 2021 house bill, House Bill 2911, established a target date of Sept. 1, 2025, to allow statewide implementation of Next Generation 911. So far, the majority of Texas has implemented the new protocol, but Tarrant County remains one of 43 counties in Texas which has yet to follow suit, the informal report stated.