Alaska Senate Rejects Governor's Request to Upgrade 9-1-1 System
Apr. 26—A Senate committee Wednesday rejected the governor's request for money to centralize the state's 911 system.
Gov. Bill Walker had sought $9.5 million in the annual capital budget to pay for the first phase of a 911 upgrade across Alaska in an effort to improve emergency response times.
The Senate Finance Committee didn't include the request in the budget Wednesday.
Sen. Anna MacKinnon, R-Eagle River, said the administration hadn't provided enough information about how the change would improve emergency responses.
"As far as I understand it, it's a request to consolidate (the statewide system) in Anchorage in a building, and there's not much background or actual conversation that has happened with how fast it would actually save the lives they talked about," MacKinnon said.
Centralizing the system is "certainly important at some time, whether it's important now is subjective," she said.
The Alaska State Troopers' emergency dispatch system relies on four regional hubs that use different computer systems. Emergency calls in most of the state can result in a series of transferred calls and lost caller data, reducing the chance of a timely response, the administration has said.
In some rural communities, callers must dial 800 numbers for emergencies instead of 911 used in cities, and residents have complained that the disparity threatens public safety.
To pay for the improvements, Walker had proposed diverting cash he previously wanted set aside for studying the oil and gas potential of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.