Putnam County 911 Moves To 'Next Generation'



Putnam County 911 Service Moves Into The Next Generation In 911 Services. NG911 Seen As The Most Impressive Change Since 911 Service Began.


COOKEVILLE, TN – In the 1970’s and early 80’s, before 911 ever came about, there was little more than a regular phone on the wall in ambulance services and police stations where calls came in, and callers would have to give directions to get to the call.


            Since that time, 911 services have changed tremendously. Putnam County 911 and EMS Director Randy Porter, who also serves as chairman of the Tennessee Emergency Communications Board (state 911 board,) describes the latest change as the “most impressive and exciting change in over 30 years in emergency services.”


            “We started out in 1983 with our first 911 system, which was little more than a designated phone where calls would come in. Then we moved to the ‘Enhanced-911’ system in 1991, where we could get the callers address,” Porter continued. “We thought we were top of the line in 2003 when we could locate cell phone callers by GPS. This new ‘NG911’ system has so many upgrades all-together that it is impressive and it is going to save lives.”


            Out of all the work Porter has been involved with at the local and state 911 level, he describes NG911 (Next Generation 911) as the most exciting change that brings 911 into the future. “NG911 brings technology in all the 911 centers up to the same level across the state and makes us all more efficient. It uses fiber optic technology to connect all of our 911 centers together, and allow us to talk to each other with the touch of a button,” stated Porter.


            The NG911 technology is currently being installed in 911 centers across the state. Among those is Putnam’s 911 center, which was the first in the Upper Cumberland Region to go live on the new network. The new IP network called “NetTN” is the backbone of the system and involves underground fiber optic cable running across the state. This allows for multiple levels of backup among the 911 Centers, and links all the 911 centers in the state together.


“At times we will get a 911 call that is routed to us from another county. This can be because of the location of the caller related to the closest cell tower, because of a technological glitch, or because a geographical divide that routes their call to us. With NG911, we will be able to push one button and transfer the caller to the correct 911 center, anywhere in the state.”


            The technology also automatically updates 911 addresses. Currently, a 911 administrator will go to the location and assign the address. They then have to transmit that information back to the 911 center and update it in the system manually. With NG911, the address can be assigned in the field, and it will instantly update on the 911 maps.


            “One of what we hope will be the greatest parts of this technology is SMS and MMS messaging.” SMS, for Short Message Service, is more commonly referred to as text messaging. MMS, for Multimedia Messaging Service, is when pictures and video can be transmitted. “If a 911 caller gets a picture or video of a crime in progress, they will be able to send that to us and it will be available to all responding units before the first officer ever arrives on scene. Another instance might be where someone in distress can’t speak, but they could text 911 for help”, explained Porter.


            The SMS and MMS portion of the NG911 system will begin testing with select cell carriers and 911 Centers in 2013. Putnam is one of the selected counties to test the “texting to 911”. 


            Porter continued, “Our state 911 board has put a lot of time and effort into getting this technology up and going for the whole state. Here locally, our Putnam County 911 board has also followed this closely and made all the right decisions to keep us ready and capable of bringing this technology in. I am so thankful for our 911 board here in Putnam County and I wish that everyone could see how hard they work to really understand our 911 systems to make the best decisions.”


            To learn more about Putnam County 911 and stay updated on NG911 technology updates, visit You can also find them on Facebook at, or follow them on Twitter @putnam911tn.

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