Michigan 911 systems will get upgraded with a 6 cent monthly surcharge

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New legislation signed Tuesday by Governor Rick Snyder will add an additional 6 cents to your phone bill.

Senate Bill 400 is geared to generate $20 Million a year to upgrade Michigan’s 911 emergency response system. Supporters say the states 911 system is extremely outdated and the money generated will upgrade technology, especially with how emergency centers handle calls from cell phones.

Ingham County 911 staff services manager Barb Davidson says software upgrades are a drastic need. Her crew works with equipment that doesn’t function well with cell phones, and she says this complicates present-day emergency protection.

“80% of our 911 calls are from a cell phone and this robust system will give us the opportunity to do a better job with location of the callers that are using cell phones.”

That’s a big cell phone integrated upgrade most Michigan emergency call centers are in dire need of, and why State Senator Rick Jones sponsored the bill.

“This is critical,” says Jones. “It could be your mother, your father, your spouse, or one of your children calling for help and the police will now be able to find them.”

The monthly surcharge will rise from 19 to 25 cents and everyone with a phone in Michigan will be paying for the statewide emergency upgrades. The improvements will be implemented ASAP, that’ll also include helping first responders with pictures, videos, text messaging, and GPS to help pinpoint disoriented callers.

An increased surcharge will be placed on prepaid wireless plans as well. Right now, it’s a little less than 2% per retail transaction and Senate Bill 400 will raise that to 5%.

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