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Solutions: Public Safety - Next-Gen 911

Pursue Next Generation 911 Upgrades

GOAL: Design a system that enables the transmission of voice, data, or video from different types of communication devices to Public Safety Answering Points (PSAPs) and onto emergency responder networks.

DESCRIPTION: The overall system architecture of PSAPs has essentially not changed since the first 911 call was made in 1968. These 911 systems are voice-only networks based on original wireline, analog, circuit-switched infrastructure that prevents easy transmission of data and critical sharing of information that can significantly enhance the decision-making ability, response, and quality of service provided to emergency callers. To meet growing public expectations of 911-system functionality (capable of voice, data, and video transmission from different types of communication devices), that framework should be replaced. This would require replacing analog phone systems with an Internet Protocol (IP)-based system. This system would provide an enabling platform for current technology, as well as future upgrades.

For example, in January 2013, the Federal Communications Commission proposed to amend its rules by requiring all wireless carriers and providers of “interconnected” text messaging applications to support the ability of consumers to send text messages to 911 in all areas throughout the nation where 911 PSAPs are also prepared to receive the texts (which requires an IP-based system). Text-to-911 will provide consumers with enhanced access to emergency communications in situations where a voice call could endanger the caller, or a person with disabilities is unable to make a voice call.


When involved in PSAP decision making and faced with replacing aging systems or purchasing new technology for the very first time, consider what the most immediate requirements are and where the community needs to be ten years from now. Your community can take a measured and practical approach that spreads the operational impact and costs of a Next Generation 911 transition over time. Your local agency should choose a starting point that makes the most sense and provides immediate benefits for the PSAP, responders, and communities they serve. For example, according to Intrado, Inc., a provider of 911 and emergency communications infrastructure to over 3,000 public safety agencies, local public safety agencies can implement any of the following next-generation 911 components today, and provide immediate benefits with little to no disruption of current operations: A public safety class, IP-based network; IP-based call processing equipment (CPE) in PSAPs; Geographic information system (GIS) data enhancements; Advanced 911 data capabilities and applications; Note: With Next Generation 911, responders and PSAPs will gain greater situational awareness, which will enable better-informed decisions, resulting in better outcomes and, ultimately, a safer community.

By capitalizing on advances in technologies, you are enabling: Quicker and more accurate information to responders; Better and more useful forms of information; More flexible, secure, and robust PSAP operations; and Lower capital and operating costs.


State, county, and local public safety agencies; State, county, and local interoperability coordinators; Broadband providers and related entities



Public Safety Communications