LITTLE ROCK - Arkansas is the first state in the country to launch Smart 911, an enhanced public safety and emergency dispatching system.
Other cities and counties across the country have installed Smart 911, but Arkansas is the only place it is available on a statewide basis.
Now, when someone calls 911 from a land line the dispatcher and first responders can pinpoint the location of the caller. However, when you call from a cell phone they can locate you within about a 300 yard area.
Under the Smart 911 system, you can get online and register your cell phone number, along with your address, so that if you ever call for help with your cell first responders will know immediately where you live. This is especially helpful for people who live in apartment complexes. Emergency personnel say that about 70 percent of emergency calls now come from cell phones.
Also, you can create a "safety profile" that has important information such as your allergies and your medical condition. It can include a floor plan of your house and a list of family members, which would greatly help firefighters. If anyone in your home has a disability or special needs, that information would be useful on your "safety profile."
Your "safety profile" pops up on the computer screens of dispatchers when you call 911. Dispatchers can relay your profile to first responders while they're on their way to your house.
To protect your privacy, it will not be accessible to them unless you call 911. Even when you call 911 it is available for only 45 minutes after the call is made.
The effectiveness of Smart 911 depends on people's signing up. To create a "safety profile" you can log onto www.smart911.com
In the cities where Smart 911 has been available, about 25 percent of the population signed up within two years. Participation is entirely voluntary.
The legislature authorized spending $1 million for startup costs of Smart 911 through Act 213, which was approved earlier this year during the fiscal session. The continuing costs are estimated to be $400,000 to $600,000 a year.
At the announcement of Smart 911 at the state Capitol, the Senate chairman of the Joint Budget Committee said that he expected the legislature to continue funding Smart 911 because it would save lives.
Net general revenue for the first 11 months of the state fiscal year is 3.5 percent over the previous year. Budget officials said that when the fiscal year ends on June 30, the state probably will have a surplus of $67 million and possible a surplus of as much as $100 million.
The financial report for May follows the recent upward revision of the official state revenue forecast by $39.4 million. Net revenue for the current fiscal year is projected to be $4.56 billion.
The director of the Finance and Administration Department said that the economic recovery in Arkansas was not strong, but even so the state would enjoy a surplus because of very conservative budgeting.
State general revenue comes mainly from the sales tax and from individual and corporate income taxes.