The Kewaunee County 9-1-1 emergency dispatch service will get a long-overdue upgrade with the help of a federal grant.

The County Board last week approved an $83,555.20 transfer to provide a 40% match for a $125,332.80 grant from the federally funded Wisconsin NextGen 9-1-1 Reimbursement Grant Program.

“We are woefully at our end of life in our 9-1-1,” Sheriff Matt Joski told supervisors.

He pointed out that a decade ago most counties switched to E-9-1-1, which incorporated some different technologies like mapping – when a call comes in, the system automatically shows the caller’s location on a map. But E-9-1-1 eventually became incompatible with Kewaunee County’s analog radio equipment.

“We lost (mapping) about six years ago because our carrier basically said, ‘We’re not supporting your equipment, it’s antiquated, you’re on your own,’” Joski said.

That loss of service now extends to the entire system, as the carrier has told the county it won’t service the old equipment after April 1, 2021.

“We’re just fortunate that at the same time the Office of Emergency Communications provided a grant for that 60/40 match,” the sheriff said.

The NextGen 9-1-1 equipment will allow voice, photos, videos and text messages to flow from the public to the county’s 9-1-1 call center, according to the resolution, which passed unanimously.