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    Technology advances, but funding lags for Pa. 911 call centers

     Technology advances, but funding lags for Pa. 911 call centers (Tim Roske/AP Photo, file)

    Technology advances, but funding lags for Pa. 911 call centers (Tim Roske/AP Photo, file)

    State lawmakers want Pennsylvanians to be able to contact 911 via Skype or a FaceTime account on their smartphones, but they haven’t figured out how to pay for it.

    A Tuesday hearing will bring county emergency responders into the mix as lawmakers discuss how to change the funding mechanisms for the statewide network of county-run 911 response centers.

    The scheduled end of one revenue source for the centers is prompting the evaluation of the overall funding model, said state Rep. Steve Barrar, R-Delaware.

    “We need to look at the next generation of 911 and the next generation of technology and how to make sure that they are both compatible without us having to come back and rewrite this law every time there is a new type of technology,” he said.

    Right now, the main revenue stream for the call centers is a $1 surcharge on landline phones and certain cell phones.

    Barrar said the centers in many counties have been adapting to new kinds of emergency calls, but at great expense.

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