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Auditors: Idaho 911 hurts

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Idaho's 911 services are in need of some first aid.

Idaho needs to invest some serious funds to get the state's emergency communications system up to par, according to an evaluation released by the state Legislature's Office of Performance Evaluations.

Only 54 percent of the state's population is served by 911 systems that can find the location of someone using a cell phone. The report notes that Idaho is behind all of its neighboring states in terms of 911 service with the exception of Wyoming.

In the last three years, the state has spent $428 million on information technology, but the report calls for much more. Public safety communications managers from 241 agencies around the state are asking for $298 million to help upgrade radio systems, allowing first responders to talk to each other in real time. Without the investment, the state may not meet the Dec. 31, 2012, federal deadline for upgrading these systems.

Overall, the report found that the state needs to provide better leadership and planning to better coordinate efforts.