Brazos County And Frontier Launch Text-To-911

brazos county dispatcher


The Business Challenge

Brazos County Emergency Communications District utilizes a text-to-911 solution that allows 9-1-1 personnel to interact in unique, potentially lifesaving ways with those who need help.

The Solution

Frontier has a solution to improve responsiveness and efficiency for the Brazos County region, specifically by assigning a single point of contact to facilitate the process of introducing text-to-911 into the district.

The Benefit

Brazos County Emergency Communications District is able to receive text messages from those in emergencies. This allows them to serve several populations more effectively, including the large student community of Texas A&M University.

The Needs and the Solutions

“You know, the 9-1-1 system is really the lifeline between citizens and getting the help they need,” Corley said. “One of the things we wanted to address is the change in the way people are communicating.”

Although Brazos County can receive calls from landline and VOIP, most of the calls – between 80 and 90 percent – come through wireless phones. These phones, of course, also have the ability to text.

“Text-to-911 isn’t mandated by the federal government like voice calls, but it’s something the FCC wants agencies to incorporate when possible,” Corley said. “An agreement was reached with the five major cell phone carriers to provide this service when requested by dispatch services that can receive it.”

Brazos County is just such a service. And, Corley added, he believes the county makeup made text-to-911 of special importance. “With Texas A&M University in the area and over 60,000 students there, we have a lot of those students that come from the larger metropolitan areas and they’re accustomed to having that service at home. We have met their expectations in terms of what services are provided here locally as well.” Text-to-911 also serves deaf and hard-of-hearing populations more effectively than voice calls, and is useful in emergencies where speaking on the phone is difficult or dangerous.

brazos county 911 logo

The decision to implement text-to-911, was only half the battle. Before Frontier moved to Brazos County, the Emergency Communications District was doing business with another communications vendor – one that failed to recognize that responsiveness is a vital factor when working with emergency response.

“With our former service provider, we didn’t always have the best luck in terms of customer service,” Corley said. “We had issues where we made requests for certain projects and it seemed like it would take months to get answers – it was very frustrating at times because we had a project we were ready to pay money for, and we couldn’t even get our phone calls returned.”

When Frontier became the area provider, Corley hoped this project would be undertaken in a more timely manner, despite its high level of complexity. “This project wasn’t just on Frontier, but also the text-to-911 vendor and all five of the cell phone carriers, as well as an outside text control center. There were a lot of moving parts here.”

The Results

“We were live within six months of signing the contract with Frontier,” Corley said. “That’s a relatively short period of time when you’re talking about a project of this scope. You start getting 10 or 12 agencies or companies involved in this project and you have to make sure you have a good project manager.”

Frontier started by assigning a single point of contact to organize and facilitate communication. This way, all schedules and logistics could be fed through that Frontier point person to Corley and other relevant staff.

It was due in large part to this efficiency that the text-to-911 system went live on time. It has proven useful in giving a contact method for those in emergencies where voice calls weren’t safe or practical.

“You never know what that next call is going to bring,” he said. In such a vital role, responsiveness from those who provide the tech framework for 9-1-1 personnel to do their jobs cannot be in question. Since Frontier took over, said Corley, it hasn’t been.

“In terms of responsiveness we noticed a difference right off the bat – getting phone calls answered and being proactive in reaching out to us, making sure we had what we needed and making sure our questions are answered,” he said.

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