Lowndes upgrades 911 service - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Lowndes upgrades 911 service

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Valdosta - When Alisha McDonald answers a 911 call from a cell phone, she does everything she can to find the caller's location. "Sometimes we rely on landmarks, billboards, mile markers, just the general surroundings of where they might be," said McDonald.

But finding a caller will soon be much easier. The Lowndes County 911 center is upgrading its wireless service. "It will give the dispatcher a good location of where that caller is," said Nick Lacey, 911 Director.

When you call 911 from a cell phone now, the dispatcher can only tell what tower you're calling from, and that includes a 51 mile radius. But the upgrade will make the location much more specific. "It will be within plus or minus 300 feet," said Lacey.

The location will be even more accurate for cell phones with a global positioning system. "Those coordinates will be plus or minus 15 feet," said Lacey.

Cell phone users are paying a one dollar service charge for the current wireless 911 service, but the upgrade will cause a small increase. "The Board of Commissioners have approved that increase to $1.50 on the cellular handset per month," said Lacey.

It's a slight price hike, but one that could end up saving your life.

The system upgrades should be up and running in six to 12 months.

posted by ashley.harper@walb.com