Iowa will soon have a statewide network in place that will make it easier for emergency responders to help cellular phone users in emergencies. State emergency management director Ellen Gordon says the current wireless 9-1-1 system is not “enhanced” 9-1-1 statewide, but it will be within a few weeks. The new system will enable cell phone users who call 9-1-1 to automatically transmit their call-back number and the tower location they’re using to make the call. That will help responders locate the person who makes the call. Through the system, a wireless user who dials 9-1-1 will be connected to the nearest of 128 public safety communications centers, which could save valuable time in emergency situations.Gordon says 20 counties are now fully operational with the enhanced wireless 9-1-1 system and all 99 counties should be online by the end of December. It cost 12-and-a-half million dollars to build this network and will cost about six million a year to maintain it. Gordon says it’s money that comes directly from cellular phone users, as the service is being paid for with a 50-cent monthly surcharge on the bills of all wireless customers and is the sole source of funding for the project. Iowa will be among the first states in the U-S to provide statewide wireless E-9-1-1 service.
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