9-1-1 centers have been the frontline of public safety communications for decades, taking emergency calls, dispatching on-scene first responders, and saving countless lives. But as technology continues to advance rapidly, so do the expectations of the public and the needs of the on-scene first responders.
Traditional voice-based 9-1-1 communication will soon be a thing of the past, replaced by the NG9-1-1 system. This system will revolutionize PSAP operations, providing geospatial routing, improved location accuracy, multimedia messaging, and so much more.
In this blog from NGA, we'll dive deeper into how NG911 will transform PSAP operations beyond text and video and what it means for the future of public safety.
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NG9-1-1, or Next Generation 9-1-1, is a modernized emergency response system that leverages the power of Internet Protocol (IP) and cloud-based networks to improve the quality, speed, and accuracy of 911 caller data. As a result, this system will transform how emergency calls are received, processed, and how resources and personnel are dispatched.
Because Next Generation 9-1-1 utilizes secure and interconnected networks that run on the cloud, PSAPs can receive and transmit multimedia information such as text-to-9-1-1, RTT, videos, and images. This enables emergency responders to receive real-time, actionable information for better situational awareness and decision-making.
The benefits of NG9-1-1 also extend to individuals unable to make voice calls during certain situations and those with disabilities, who can now use the same multimedia channels to request assistance.
As we move towards Next Generation 9-1-1, it's essential to understand the building blocks that make this revolutionary system possible. At the core of NG9-1-1 is the Emergency Services IP Network (ESInet), which allows emergency communications through a secure, reliable, and interoperable platform. The ESinet enables communication between PSAP call centers and other emergency responders.
The Next Generation Core Services (NGCS) are the solutions that include the software and databases necessary to ensure 9-1-1 calls are routed to the ESInet correctly. NG9-1-1 call-taking provides tools essential for emergency telecommunicators to receive, process, and dispatch 9-1-1 calls.
Vital to the NG9-1-1 infrastructure is Geographic Information Systems (GIS). GIS makes it possible for PSAPs and other emergency dispatchers to pinpoint the exact locations of 9-1-1 callers. This technology is crucial for ensuring better decision-making and efficient resource allocation during emergencies, natural disasters, and other unprecedented events.
While the Next Generation 9-1-1 system can enable seamless communication through multimedia sharing, supporting text-to-9-1-1 and smartphone connectivity is only a tiny part of what NG9-1-1 is capable of. This powerful 9-1-1 telecommunications infrastructure can collect vital data from vehicle computer systems, smart sensors, alarm systems, medical devices, smart speakers, and more.
By leveraging these technologies, PSAP personnel can gather real-time information on the callers' location, behavior, environment, and possible hazards which can help pinpoint accurate responses and mitigate damages. At the forefront of this revolution of emergency response, Next Generation 9-1-1 aims to harness these data sources, so PSAPs can use them to create a more resilient and secure public safety system.
One of the most significant ways NG9-1-1 will transform emergency response operations is through 9-1-1 caller location information. Currently, the system relies on cell tower triangulation, which may not always be accurate, particularly in the case of a natural disasters and very rural areas. With NG9-1-1, the person calling can share their location through their device's GPS. This critical information will allow PSAP personnel to locate the caller instantly and respond promptly.
Next Generation 9-1-1 was designed with resiliency in mind. This means the infrastructure is more reliable, even during natural disasters and technical difficulties.
For example, suppose an Emergency Communications Center (ECC) is not functioning. In that case, calls can be forwarded to any operational Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP), regardless of location (local, regional, or national).
NG9-1-1 operational PSAPs can automatically reroute calls to other PSAPs if the nearest call center is unavailable. This is because these public safety organizations have built-in resilience and recency capabilities with Next Generation 9-1-1 technology to avoid any single points of failure.
The NG9-1-1 system offers data integration of various public safety information systems, such as criminal records, fire, and emergency medical systems. This integration will give on-scene first responders real-time access to relevant information and respond proactively to emergencies.
For example, during a house fire, on-scene first responders can access building plans and schematics to identify the best exit routes, determine the location of utility shutoffs, and assess the risk of a structure collapse.
NG9-1-1 offers much more than just audio, text, and video communications. It includes various multimedia capabilities, such as pictures, data, and live-streaming videos from sensors or wearable devices. This will provide a clearer picture of the emergency, providing critical information that will enable on-scene first responders to respond appropriately.
The system also provides interoperability between different agencies, which allows for more efficient communication and a more coordinated response. Interoperability ensures that the information collected by the PSAP is shared with the emergency responders, including law enforcement, fire departments, and medical personnel. This seamless exchange of information enhances the effectiveness of emergency response.
While the purpose of NG9-1-1 is to provide faster, more reliable, and more accurate emergency response, the infrastructure was also designed to help make day-to-day operations more streamlined for PSAP personnel. This means Next Generation 9-1-1 can provide a more user-friendly interface and workflow for its users.
The goal of the infrastructure is to make it easier for dispatchers to do their job. How? By reducing the number of interfaces, they interact with.
This goal can be achieved by ensuring seamless interoperability among other essential tools are set in place. Public safety telecommunicators will benefit from this update because they will have access to more information in a format that is easy to use.
NG9-1-1 technology offers a more comprehensive approach to emergency response and enables PSAPs to move beyond traditional voice calls. Emergency responders and the public will see improved outcomes with enhanced communication channels, situational awareness, and data collection abilities.
The Next Generation 9-1-1 system is a critical tool for the future of public safety, and emergency response professionals must prepare for the changes and the opportunities it brings. We need to ensure that 9-1-1 service evolves continually, so it can continue to serve the public in the most efficient and effective way possible.