As 911 systems become more sophisticated, the possibility is there for the public to be able to submit text messages, photos and video to a 911 dispatcher.
During Tuesday's Butler County Commission meeting, Emergency Communications Director Chris Davis spoke about some of these possibilities.
According to Davis, the state is working to develop an emergency communications system that will be standard across Kansas.
He also said one aspect of this project is to standardize GIS maps across the state.
"There's an awful lot of work to be done statewide," he said. "The state has to come up with a statewide street center line map."
Davis said 911 centers could possibly be regionalized under this system, and if they are, a standardized map would need to be in place so dispatchers would know which responders to send.
Following the discussion, the commission approved a memorandum of understanding to allow Davis to work with other emergency communications centers in south central Kansas to work together toward a new standard.
In other business, the commission:
• heard from Craig Duncan, who expressed concern about truck traffic on Purity Springs.
• approved the FY2014 Area Plan as presented by Annette Graham of the Central Plains Area Agency on Aging.
• tabled a request from Butler Homeless Initiative (BHI) to apply for a Kansas Emergency Solutions Grant. In order to apply for the grant, BHI needs to have a local government agree to serve as fiscal agent for the grant funds. With this grant, there would be no funding provided by the county. Commissioner Ed Myers said he is unconvinced there is enough of a homeless problem in the county to warrant the grant. He also said funds need to be prioritized, and noted the county has unfunded road projects.
"Frankly I'm not convinced that this is really a wise stewardship given Butler County's favorable posture here in the homeless arena," said Myers.
BHI vice president Macy Gaines pointed out that even if the $56,000 in grant funds isn't awarded to BHI, it wouldn't be available for road projects or for anything else.
"This money is already allocated to HUD," she said. "The money's there. They're asking agencies like ours to take advantage of the available money."
Gaines said the grant would allow BHI to serve around 13 heads of household throughout the year.
"As a minister, I can tell you the number of people who are homeless has significantly increased," added Bill O'Connell, pastor of El Dorado First Presbyterian Church.
O'Connell said that while the homeless population in the county may not be as large as in some other counties, it is a significant problem for the people who are having a hard time.
Page 2 of 2 - "If the money is there, we should do it," he said. "If we can help one dozen people, we should do it."
Commissioner Jeff Masterson requested more information about BHI, so this request was tabled until next week.
• approved an agreement with Hutchinson Community College for access to the Yoder backup communications center. This agreement will allow the county to utilize the 911 center in Yoder should something happen to the one in El Dorado.
• received a report from Davis about payment for emergency communications software.
• approved notices to contractors for work on Diamond Creek bridge on NW River Valley, for Fourmile Creek bridge on SW Thunder and for Eightmile Creek bridge on SW 210.
• authorized Public Works to obtain engineering proposals for a planned bridge replacement project on SW Prairie Creek over Dry Creek and for three planned bridge deck repair projects.
• authorized Public Works to proceed with right-of-way acquisition for a planned major culvert and grading project on SW Shumway south of 110th.
• approved the purchase of sign materials for planned sign replacement and sign maintenance work.
• authorized Public Works to obtain bids for equipment replacements.
• discussed capital improvement projects.