Governor Newsom Visits Emergency Dispatch Center in San Francisco to Highlight Critical Investments in 9-1-1 System Upgrade

Governor Gavin Newsom today toured a 9-1-1 call center at the San Francisco Department of Emergency Management to highlight the new funding included in the 2019 budget act to modernize 9-1-1 systems across the state and be better prepared to assist those in need during emergencies and natural disasters.

The 2019 budget act invests nearly $1 billion in funding for emergency preparedness and response – which included a new, permanent funding source to transform the state’s 9-1-1 system to better interface with digital information systems and cell phones.

“During my first week in office, I proposed making crucial updates to modernize our antiquated 9-1-1 system. The idea that it’s 2019, and we are using analog systems designed decades ago is astounding, and we need to make investments to make sure the technology aligns with the devices people are using in their daily lives,” said Governor Newsom.

Today, smartphones are the public’s primary means of accessing the 9-1-1 system, with approximately 80 percent of all calls to 9-1-1 coming from smartphones. California’s network of 9-1-1 systems uses pre-Internet and pre-cellphone era technology that has proven to be unreliable, hindering the ability of dispatchers and emergency responders and threatening lives. Over the past 12 months in California, there have been an average of thirteen 9-1-1 outages per month, which equates to 22,705 minutes when 9-1-1 was not available. In March of 2019, some portion of the 9-1-1 network was down for 61,534 minutes. Federal regulators estimate that saving a minute from emergency response times could save as many as 10,000 lives a year.

This year’s budget includes a $50 million one-time investment and a revised fee structure to maintain and improve the state’s 9-1-1 system. This critical action and investment will ensure the 9-1-1 system aims to deliver emergency calls in 3 seconds or less.

The new fee restructure, approved by the Legislature, creates a long-term sustainable funding source for improving and maintaining our 9-1-1 system. It reflects modern technology advancements and consumer phone usage, stabilizing and sustaining the existing 9-1-1 system and implementing Next Generation 9-1-1.

“California’s antiquated, analog microwave network must be upgraded to a digital network to maintain safety operations that can integrate into the 21st century technology everyone is using,” Governor Newsom.

The new fee structure will:

  • Keep the fee one of the lowest in the entire nation, currently estimated at thirty-three cents ($0.33) while generating approximately $175 million annually. The fee can be adjusted annually and it is capped at 80 cents.
  • Create an equitable cost share across all users who can access 9-1-1.
  • Provide increased location accuracy for wireless calls and a statewide common delivery system for Alerts and Warnings through the implementation of Next Generation 9-1-1.
  • Align California with nearly every other state – all but three have converted to a similar fee structure.

Today’s visit was the final in a series of events this week to highlight the Governor’s investments in emergency prevention, preparedness and response this wildfire season. On Wednesday the Governor visited Colfax to view work being done for fuel management and announce the addition of almost 400 seasonal firefighters to the ranks of CAL FIRE. Yesterday, Governor Newsom toured McClellan Air Force Base with former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger to view some of the cutting-edge technology that will be used to respond to fires and emergencies.

Jonathan Gudel

Jonathan Gudel is a Public Information Officer for the California Governor's Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES). Since joining Cal OES, he has assisted in the response and recovery efforts of the Aliso Canyon Gas Leak, the state's historic drought, the Oroville Dam Emergency Spillway Incident, unprecedented winter storms in 2017, the October (Sonoma County) and December (Santa Barbara County) 2017 wildfires, and statewide wildfire siege in 2018 . Previously, he worked in the newspaper industry for 12 years.

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