Frequently Asked Questions

Doesn’t the government pay for 9-1-1?

Surcharges on telephone bills are used to meet 9-1-1 network costs, and certain other costs related to processing and responding to 9-1-1 calls as permitted by state statute. The majority of the costs of providing public safety services, including the remaining costs of operating an Emergency Call Center and First Responder compensation and equipment, are paid out of the County, City or Town’s General Fund (from tax revenues), or a Fire District’s assessment. There are many demands on the General Fund in addition to public safety, including for education, street and highway maintenance, administration, parks and recreation, compliance with state and federal requirements and mandates, and so forth. We will help upgrade 9-1-1 Call Centers and systems so that 9-1-1 calls can be handled more efficiently and First Responders dispatched more quickly.

How will my contribution benefit me?

Your contribution will save lives! You’ll make a difference! Foundation public education programs have registered thousands of people for Emergency Notification Services, so that they have received alerts and evacuation notices in cases of floods, fires and other emergencies.

At the 9-1-1Colorado Foundation, we hope that neither you nor any member of your family will
ever need to call 9-1-1, or need assistance from First Responders. If you do, however, we want
ensure the Colorado 9-1-1 System will hasten First Responders to your location and provide assistance without delay.

Even if it’s your neighbors who directly benefit from modernization of the Colorado 9-1-1 System,
we believe we all benefit. Faster and more effective first response to police, fire and health emergencies can reduce losses, public costs, and insurance rates. Operational efficiencies which reduce the time First Responders spend completing reports and other administrative tasks, and allow them to use their time more efficiently, can reduce overall public safety costs. Incident data captured by modern public safety information systems enables statistical analyses of incident data. Such analyses can be used by public safety agencies to document and address high traffic accident areas, deploy First Responders more efficiently, and assess and improve procedures and tactics. Modernizing the 9-1-1 Network will also allow First Responders in adjacent jurisdictions to communicate and work together more effectively.

9-1-1 is critical for many disabled and elderly people. For example, deaf people rely heavily on text messaging to send and receive information—but the current 9-1-1 System often does not support these needs. Many people no longer have landline telephone service—they rely on cellphones, Internet phones, or similar services. With the current (legacy) 9-1-1 System, however, dispatchers and First Responders may not be able to locate callers using these phones or their calls. A modern 9-1-1 System such as Next Generation 9-1-1 will enable new applications and services leveraging the capabilities of smartphones and IP networks.

I use text messaging all the time. Doesn’t the current 9-1-1 System work with text messaging?

Too often the answer is—No. You should be concerned about upgrading the 9-1-1 System to support using text messaging for many reasons. Some of those reasons are:

  • Text messaging is important for the speech- and hearing-impaired community, as there has been an 80% reduction in use of TDD (Telecommunications Devices for the Deaf-teletypes or TTY) over the past 10 years and this community now relies primarily on text-messaging to communicate.
  • Text messaging is also important in “Silent Call” situations, such as where a woman is hiding in a closet from her abusive husband or boyfriend who will harm her if he finds her when he hears her talking on the phone to 9-1-1.
  • Text messaging is important for snowmobilers, hikers, hunters, and other backcountry/ outdoor enthusiasts who get lost beyond the range at which they can make a cellphone voice call but where they can get a sufficient signal to send a text message. A number of people have been saved this way, where they sent a text message to friends who contact a sheriff’s office in the area where they went missing, and a dispatcher has used his/her personal cellphone to text with the lost people and help locate them. Please note that when text messaging is available, people should still make a voice call to 9-1-1. Using text messaging would delay communicating the nature and location of the incident to the 9-1-1 Call Center so that First Responders can be dispatched. Text messaging would also make EMD (first aid instructions by telephone) impracticable.

Why is the 9-1-1Colorado Foundation raising money to support 9-1-1?

Public education regarding more effective use of 9-1-1 and ENS can be more cost-effectively provided across an entire media market or the state than on a county-by-county basis. Independently funding public education can allow 9-1-1 and public safety funding to be dedicated to 9-1-1, ENS and other public safety services.

Traditional financing sources have proven insufficient to fund the purchase of up-to-date equipment, systems and services in many Colorado Counties. It is estimated that a Next Generation, IP-based network will cost up to three-times current network costs. We believe that providing for the public safety is the most important mission of local government, and want to provide supplemental funding to assure that the most up-to-date 9-1-1 system is available to summon First Responders when you need them, no matter where you live, work, play or travel in Colorado.

What happens if the 9-1-1- System isn’t modernized?

In the short-run. you won’t notice much difference. While Next Generation 9-1-1 Systems provide increased reliability, Colorado already has one of the most redundant and reliable 9-1-1 Systems in the country, at a lower cost than most states incur for less robust networks. Other states are upgrading to 9-1-1 to attain the level of reliability Colorado already enjoyes.

Over the medium-term, Next Generation 9-1-1 will significantly impact public safety and Emergency Response. The system will leverage the (i) data processing capabilities of smartphones and other devices, (ii) the IP networks of Next Generation 9-1-1, and (ii) health monitoring sensors being developed such as blood sugar sensors, and the Next Generation 9-1-1 IP networks, automatic crash notification sensors and other systems, to provide additional information to 9-1-1 Call Centers and First Responders for more effective Emergency Response. Next Generation 9-1-1 is not just about improving 9-1-1 service; but because additional information regarding an incident will be provided to directly to First Responders, it will impact and improve Emergency Response. In addition, the 9-1-1 Call Center may become a hub for distribution of incident and health information to First Responders, hospital emergency rooms, personal physicians, and health insurance companies. This will allow better sharing of information and coordination of services.

In the long run, IP networking will replace the legacy, analog, telephone network. Switches and other equipment required to continue legacy 9-1-1 service will become even more outdated and expensive or impossible to maintain or replace.

How do I know my contribution won’t allow existing 9-1-1 funding to be diverted to other uses?

The additional costs required to implement Next Generation 9-1-1 are such that funding public education through the 9-1-1Colorado Foundation will free up funds needed to support the new technology. Providing more cost-effective public education on a media-market or statewide basis will also allow 9-1-1 Authorities to make more effective use of their limited budgets.

Insofar as grants are concerned, when the Foundation is in a position to make grants it will do so in a way that assures it does not result in diversion of existing public safety funding to non-public safety purposes. The 9-1-1Colorado Foundation will provide grant funding for the purchase of equipment, software, systems, and specific services and training. The Foundation will not fund ongoing operating costs. 9-1-1 Authority Boards are audited annually, and Grant Applications and Grant Agreements will require information and commitments regarding the jurisdiction’s funding of 9-1-1 and First Responders, where appropriate, to assure that Grants are made and prioritized based on need, and that local funding of grant recipients continues at a level- or increased-rate following award of the grant. Grants may also be made on condition of matching funds.

There have been news reports about States “raiding” 9-1-1 funds and using them to meet general budget shortfalls. How do I know my contribution won’t be raided?

9-1-1 Funds have never been “raided” in Colorado. Legislative raids of 9-1-1 funds in Colorado is unlikely because the local 9-1-1 Authorities receive the surcharges and hold the funds in local accounts rather than in state accounts. Nevertheless, the Foundation intends to make grant disbursements directly to vendors and service suppliers.