Houston & Peach

Houston County’s 911 center shows off its $6.5 million renovated digs, equipment

Houston County’s 911 center opened its doors Thursday for tours to celebrate its $6.5 million renovation and upgrade.

“We’re real excited of the accomplishments that we’ve made and the equipment and upgrades we’ve received,” said Houston County sheriff’s Capt. Ricky Harlowe, commander of the 911 center.

The upgrade included the latest software for the 800 megahertz system and replacement of all wiring, electronics, equipment and furniture. The renovation replaced equipment from 2003.

“We’re next gen 911 now, which that will give us the capability of text messaging,” Harlowe said. “We are not receiving text messaging now but we can in the very near feature.

“And ... we’ll be able to have video streaming like if a burglar alarm goes off at a store … We can see inside of the store and see who’s in there.”

Eyes inside will allow 911 operators to give responding law enforcement officers descriptions of suspects and other valuable information, Hawlowe said.

But those capabilities won’t go into effect until early 2018, he said.

The call center also has new layout, which allows for supervisors to better monitor operators and for operators to better communicate with each other, Harlowe said.

“It makes our job easier,” said Renae Jackson, a 911 operator with Houston County for the past 18 years.

Part of the upgrade enables 911 to better track cellphone locations to within 500 feet, Jackson noted.

“So, if we don’t get the address from the person, at least we have an area to check,” she said.

Perry police Chief Steve Lynn was among those touring the center Thursday.

“They already do an outstanding job supporting us,” Lynn said. “This gives them better tools to continue to perform at a high level and give us all the support we need out on the road.”

The renovation was paid for with revenues from the 2012 special purpose local option sales tax.

The 911 center also houses the Houston County Fire Department’s administration offices. The fire chief is also the county’s emergency management agency director.