New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Thursday the dispersal of $55 million in funds to further the state’s emergency communications systems.
The new funding comes from the State Interoperable Communications Grant, which contributed $45 million to counties in the state, and the Public Safety Answering Points Operations Grant, which contributes $10 million. The funding is the latest round to come from the New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services, which has now awarded the state’s 57 counties and New York City a total of $300 million for upgrades that will enable upgrades to infrastructure supporting communication between first responders like paramedics, police officers and firefighters.
“In an emergency, every second counts and these funds will help ensure our first responders have access to the best and most up to date communications equipment, enabling them to get the information they need to quickly respond,” Cuomo, a Democrat, said in a statement.
The Statewide Interoperable Communications Grant Program is funded by cellular surcharges and permits localities to spend those funds on upgrades like new equipment at tower sites, infrastructure to support next generation 911 upgrades, consolidation of systems at emergency dispatch centers, and upgrades to integrate disparate systems.
Several New York county officials told local news outlets they had been waiting for weeks for the new round of funding to come through as they plan projects like capital improvement projects for radio towers and very high frequnecy (VHF) paging systems.
New York City announced its intention to upgrade to a next generation 911 system last year, starting with text-to-911 functionality.
Nationally, localities are recommended by the NG911 Now Coalition to upgrade their systems to be ready for next generation 911 capabilities like texting, sending videos, images and other digital communications by 2020.