South Dakota lawmakers passed legislation in 1989 allowing the imposition of a surcharge on telephone lines in order to pay for 911 service. This allowed local governments to impose a fee of 75 cents per month or 2% of the point of sale costs for prepaid phones. All businesses that sell prepaid wireless service, telecommunications service, wireless service, or Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP) services are required to register with the South Dakota Department of Revenue in order to pay the 911 surcharge.
In 2008, the South Dakota 911 Coordination Board was created. Eleven board members are appointed by the Governor, and come with experience working in cities, counties, professional organizations, associations, and service providers. A permanent position is reserved for a member of the Department of Public Safety. All board members serve in staggard three year terms. The board employs a coordinator to assist with the oversight and also to help local governments with implementation of the statewide system.
The 911 Coordination Board is looking towards the future with a program called Next Generation 911. The South Dakota legislature approved a monthly fee increase of 50 cents, now totaling $1.25 per month, in order to pay for these updates. The fee on prepaid services remains the same. The increases will collect approximately $20 million over the next 7 years. Updating the current 911 system to Next Generation 911 will provide four key benefits:
- Converting infrastructure to modern broadband system
- Creating a single 911 answering system at the state level -- will produce significant cost savings by creating a more efficient answering system
- Routing all 911 calls to the nearest service centers using GIS data -- especially helpful in rural locations and when callers do not know the area.
- Making enhancements that take advantage of smart phone capabilities -- location data, text to 911
One of the ways the Next Generation 911 system will make better use of smart phone technologies is with a text to 911 system. Although texting to 911 is not used often, it is imperative in certain circumstances, such as an active shooter or hostage situation. Texting will also be beneficial to the deaf community. These updates will provide many additional benefits and improvements to 911 service in the state. Next Generation 911 is a federal mandate, and the system is required to communicate with other state systems.