City Of Alexandria Wins National Technology Award For Remote 911 Call-Taking

City Of Alexandria Wins National Technology Award For Remote 911 Call-Taking

Sep 10, 2020 at 2:53 PM

City of Alexandria Wins National Technology Award for Remote 911 Call-Taking

­­For Immediate Release: September 10, 2020

The City of Alexandria has been recognized by the Computer Technology Industry Association and Public Technology Institute with a 2020 Solutions Award for becoming the first in the United States to enable staff to provide 911 services from home. This has allowed staff to maintain physical distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic, which helps ensure continuity of critical public safety services to the community.

“The City of Alexandria is proud to be the first in the nation to introduce this innovative technology solution,” said City Manager Mark Jinks. “Not only has developing an at-home capability for 911 staff helped them to continue their lifesaving services during these unprecedented times, it also provides a replicable mode for governments and other organizations to follow.”

As the “first of the first responders,” public safety telecommunicators in the City’s Department of Emergency and Customer Communications (DECC) dispatch service calls for police officers, sheriff’s deputies, firefighters, emergency medical technicians and paramedics, and staff from many other departments. Department staff also handle requests for customer services through Alex311. Early in the pandemic crisis, DECC leadership recognized the critical importance of providing for continuity of operations in the event of a COVID-19 outbreak. Staff were divided into separate groups to maintain physical distance and prevent the possibility for infection to spread across all staff. Each group worked at the City’s primary Emergency Communications Center, a backup center, or in temporary isolation at a hotel or office.

Beginning March 6, another group of employees tested the ability to answer non-emergency calls remotely. After a successful one-month pilot, the initiative was expanded to 911 calls. Rather than relying on employees’ home phone or internet connections, this remote setup uses wireless hotspots connected to a dedicated national public safety network called FirstNet. Regardless of the location, staff comply with the same strict confidentiality and quality assurance standards, and have access to the same computer-aided dispatch system that helps route public safety resources.

For inquiries from the news media only, contact Andrea Blackford, Senior Communications Officer, at andrea.blackford@alexandriava.gov or 703.746.3959.

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