9-1-1 is the three-digit telephone number that has been designated as the "Universal Emergency Number" for public use throughout the country to report emergencies and request emergency assistance. The benefit of "9-1-1" is that it is easy for anyone to remember (even children) and is quick to dial (or punch!). An Enhanced 9-1-1 (E9-1-1) System provides computer aided dispatch in which the caller's name and address appear on the dispatcher's screen when the emergency call is made. Emergency personnel responding to the call will be able to locate the residence or business quicker. The display of the caller's address is especially important if the caller cannot communicate this information. Smyth County’s 9-1-1 Center is equipped not only with computers that display the caller’s information but a map providing the exact location of the structure. Major components of developing the E9-1-1 System have been mapping the entire county, naming roads, assigning new 9-1-1 addresses to all habitable structures and installing road signs.
A key component of an Enhanced 9-1-1 system is structure identification. All habitable structures (residential, public, commercial, etc.) are required to have a 9-1-1 address, even if this will not be the mailing address. Rural route and box addresses are no longer assigned. The E9-1-1 Office does addressing of new structures. Once an application for a new address is received, it takes a minimum of three working days to process. Application can be made by phone and does not require a visit to the office. The E9-1-1 Office also assists in verifying addresses for existing structures.