Speed, Accuracy, Inclusivity: Frederick Rolls Out Enhanced 9-1-1 System

November 8, 2023

This article was originally published by Kevin Kinnally on the Maryland Association of Counties on October 3.

New enhanced 9-1-1 service includes language translation and precise location for mobile devices contacting 9-1-1.

Frederick County is making significant strides in delivering Next-Generation 9-1-1 (NG911) services to equip public safety agencies and first responders with 21st-century tools and technology to protect residents and save lives. Frederick County’s 9-1-1 center has a range of new capabilities, including language translation for over 170 languages and dialects and precise location of mobile phone callers.

“Every person should be able to call 9-1-1 and know that help is on the way,” Frederick County Executive Jessica Fitzwater said. “Improving access for everyone is essential, and this enhanced service is just one of the many ways Frederick County is growing into a more vibrant and inclusive community.”

The Frederick County Division of Emergency Management is partnering with Baltimore-based Convey911 to add several capabilities to support the division’s 9-1-1 specialists. With the new capabilities, staff can deliver quicker, more accurate, more inclusive, and accessible 9-1-1 text and voice services to the residents and visitors to Frederick County during emergencies. The improved capabilities include:

  • Language interpretation for both parties in a 9-1-1 call or text conversation in over 170 languages and dialects, with automatic detection of the language. Census data show over 35,000 Frederick County residents speak a language other than English;
  • The precise location of mobile devices contacting 9-1-1, in partnership with RapidSOS (latitude/longitude) and NextNav (vertical axis);
  • Sending text messages requesting location tracking in an emergency to phones that did not directly dial 9-1-1. This can happen in cases of lost people, welfare checks, or when a call is transferred to 9-1-1 from 9-8-8 or a non-emergency line;
  • ConveyConnect live interpretation service with over 22,000 public safety-trained interpreters available to support over 350 languages and dialects, including sign language (ASL, SSL, SEE, PSE, and Hungarian). After the initial roll-out to the 9-1-1 center, the County will make the critical capability available to public safety staff in the field, who need to communicate directly with residents and visitors they are serving.

While Convey911’s patented process to securely and reliably remove language barriers is initially limited to 9-1-1 services, Convey911 can also provide language translation services to other Frederick County agencies as needed.

Maryland Counties at the Forefront of Next-Generation 911

As previously reported on Conduit Street, the Commission to Advance Next Generation 9-1-1 across Maryland, a 2018 MACo Legislative Initiative, was established to update state laws and the 9-1-1 financing system to provide the flexibility and resources needed to deploy a statewide NG911 system. In 2019, the General Assembly passed landmark legislation to update state laws and the 9-1-1 financing system to provide the flexibility and resources needed to deploy a statewide NG911 system.

The Commission, chaired by Senator Cheryl Kagan, included 9-1-1 directors, technology and telecommunications industry representatives, cybersecurity professionals, a bipartisan group of legislators, and other stakeholders to assure a smooth and equitable transition to NG911. As a result of the Commission’s work, Maryland passed several laws to bolster the framework and resources to guide a successful statewide transition to NG911, enhancing public safety communications in Maryland and our local communities.

Visit the Frederick County website for more information.