Sens. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., co-chair of the Senate Next Generation 911 Caucus, and Catherine Cortez Masto, D-N.M., introduced legislation Wednesday, May 15, to accelerate federal efforts to modernize the nation's aging 911 systems.

According to a news release, the Next Generation 911 Act creates a federal grant program to help state and local governments deploy next generation 911 systems across the country. The upgrades are urgently needed to help move the country's largely outdated 911 call centers and related technology into the digital age and enables them to handle text messages, pictures, videos, and other information sent by smartphones, tablets, and other devices when faced with an emergency.

Companion legislation was also introduced Wednesday in the U.S. House of Representatives led by Representatives Anna G. Eshoo, D-Calif., and John Shimkus, R-Ill., was included in the Leading Infrastructure For Tomorrow's America Act.

"In a crisis, no one should be put in danger because of outdated 911 systems—first responders, public safety officials, and law enforcement must be able to communicate seamlessly," Klobuchar stated in the release. "This legislation will bring our 911 systems into the 21st century by providing state and local governments with the resources they need to update our emergency response networks and keep our communities safe."

"In America, infrastructure means more than just roads and bridges—it includes critical technologies. This is an important step towards upgrading our outdated 911 systems and I look forward to swift passage in the House and Senate," Klobuchar's statement added.