State grants totaling more than $550,000 will fund significant upgrades to Kenosha Joint Services’ 911 system, local officials announced today.
These grants include a $450,000 award to Joint Services and a $106,000 allocation to the Kenosha County Division of Land Information, both from the Wisconsin Department of Military Affairs’ Office of Emergency Communications.
The Joint Services award will pay for nearly three quarters of the cost of a $628,000 project that will refresh the hardware and software related to the 911 system that serves the City of Kenosha and all of Kenosha County. This will enable Joint Services to adopt Next Generation 911 services, which — among other benefits — will allow for improved routing of 911 calls from cellular phones, impacting response times and improving location data.
“We are excited to receive word of the grant and what this means for updating our technology and ability to improve services to the community,” said Joint Services Director Joshua Nielsen. “This is one of the most important systems that we operate, connecting the community to public safety resources in a time of need. This project is also a step in streamlining emergency communications between the public, 911 professionals and public safety field personnel.”
The grant to Kenosha County will support updates to the geographic information system data that is integral to the 911 system’s call-routing functions.
“These grants represent a significant investment from the state that will result in a massive benefit to public safety in Kenosha County,” said County Executive Samantha Kerkman. “Thank you to the Department of Military Affairs for its support, and to the local legislators who worked together to advocate for the community on this tremendously important issue.”
State Sens. Robert Wirch and Van Wanggaard and Reps. Tip McGuire, Amanda Nedweski and Tod Ohnstad jointly supported the grant applications.
Kenosha Joint Services is an independent agency that provides 911 dispatch, law enforcement records management, fleet maintenance and evidence services for the city and county. It is also the public service answering point for fire and rescue departments across the county.
City Administrator John Morrissey, who is also vice chairman of the Joint Services Board, said he appreciates the support of area legislators in helping to secure the grant for Joint Services.
“Next Generation 911 (NG911) systems represent a quantum leap forward for the public safety community and the citizens they serve,” Morrissey said. “This upgrade will allow for better location tracking which will lead to a faster response to emergencies.”
Nielsen said the 911 upgrade project, which will occur in 2024, will connect Joint Services to the State of Wisconsin Emergency Services IP Network, which replaces the legacy 911 phone network and will improve call routing for cellular 911 calls as well as provide infrastructure for other, future Next Generation 911 services.
Under the current 911 system, Nielsen said, calls from cellphones are routed to a 911 center based on the location of the cellular antenna connected to the call. The new system will have the capability to route 911 calls based on the actual location of the caller’s handset.
County Board Supervisor Monica Yuhas, chairperson of the Kenosha Joint Services Board of Directors, celebrated the grant awards and the collaboration that led to them.
“I truly appreciate the City of Kenosha and Kenosha County working together on this grant which financially benefits all residents of Kenosha County,” Yuhas said. “I am extremely proud of the work Joint Services provides to our residents. Director Nielsen and his staff have been working diligently on creative ways to continue to provide quality services while keeping costs in check and limiting additional costs to Kenosha County taxpayers.”
More information about Kenosha Joint Services is available at http://www.kenoshajs.org. More information about Next Generation 911, which is being phased in across the United States, may be found at https://www.911.gov/issues/ng911/.