TEXARKANA, TX (KSLA) - A backup system developed in the ArkLaTex to keep 911 communications up and running in the event of a network outage is getting national attention.
"You know you never know what is going to happen and it is always good to have a backup plan," says Mary Beth Rudel, who is the Public Safety Manager for the Ark-Tex Council of Governments (ATCOG) 911 program.
ATCOG provides fully-enhanced 911 services for nine Texas counties and the city of Texarkana, Arkansas. Those services are based out of the Bi-State Communication Center in Texarkana, dispatching emergency calls for more than 10 law enforcement agencies another 10 or more fire departments.
On several occasions in the past, that 911 system has gone down due to power outages or interruptions in phone service. That's what inspired Rudel to spearhead the effort to find a way keep 911 calls online even when there is a power failure.
Their solution uses satellite technology, and Rudel says it's the first of the kind in the nation.
"We worked on it for about a year trying to get the network up and running and it passed the test with flying colors," said Rudel. "We are excited to have it implemented."
It works so well that Rudel and her ATCOG team were recently honored in Washington D.C. with a digIT Award ? for their Regional Satellite Emergency Number System Deployment, beating out the CDC, the FCC and the Department of State in the "Cloud & Infrastructure" category.
"We know the safety of our citizens is our top priority and we just want to ensure that when help is needed that they receive help."
Rudel says communication centers across the country have expressed interest in using their 911 backup system.