(Photo Credit: Provided) Project Manager, Mr. Russell Jones briefing officers on training for the 911 Call Centre back in 2018.
By the end of 2019, the British Virgin Islands is expected to have a state of the art 911 system that allows persons distressed to signal for help via text message and video.
The disclosure about the new upgrades to the current 911 system was made during an interview with Project Manager Russell Jones. In that interview, Jones disclosed that the modernizing of the system is expected to be completed by year end, and these new options of signaling help rolled out.
Jones noted that the service was not where it ought to be, and he pointed out that the improvements being made will be a major leap for 911 services in the Territory.
In commenting on why the new upgrades are necessary and exciting, the Project Manager said, “We are so far behind as far as 911 legislation.”
The mention that the upgrades would be ready soon is welcomed news, considering that since 2017 it was announced that the SMS feature was going to be added to the 911 capabilities. Unfortunately, this installation was subjected to various setbacks.
“SMS and 911 isn’t active yet. The storm held it up. Things that were ready to go off got delayed because we weren’t able to activate…,” the Project Manager noted.
“The 911 location became where the Ministry of Health moved to, so they were there up to very recently, couple of months. We’ve only recently gotten back the 911 location,” he added.
Now that 911 is back to its former location, Jones said that work has commenced on the upgrade.
“We can start inserting the servers, bring them up to speed; the upgrades the updates and actually change out the temporary hardware that was installed because of the storm. 911 was demolished because we were at the fire station, so we had to be rushed into service on a temporary basis until we can go full blown or we can have all the features,” he stated.
As it relates to a definite date for roll out of the new features, Jones said that he did not wish to give a definite time. “We don’t want to come out and announce that it’s 100 percent ready until we have those new features actually up and running…”
Meanwhile, it was disclosed that the upgrade is going well.
“From a technical standpoint, it's really just to upgrade to the PBX system; the software that actually answers the calls. The system we’re running on now – replacing that whole thing; and that’s going to happen like next week or two weeks, tops. We’re expecting to be fully operational online before the end of this year,” Jones said.
In the interim, the Project Manager mentioned that preparation of the staff to deal with the upgraded system has commenced.
“The training has already begun on the system and more intense training of new personnel will begin October. A lot’s happening in a short period…Our target date is before the end of this year for SMS and for location services – which will help us to know where people are. As well as video services where you can hold up the camera ad say this is what’s happening and that information is sent to mobile devices; so who we’re dispatching – if we’re dispatching the police, they will be able to see this information, so we’re sending data and not just a phone call,” he added.