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Action Needed To Advance The Next Generation 911

By Jessica Rosenworcel and Betty Wafer,  The Hill

Summer is here and the living is easy.  It’s the season for backyard barbeques, outside play, and long, leisurely nights.  It’s also accident season.  That means the number of trips to emergency rooms multiply—and the number of calls to 911 rise. 

Summer may be the busy season, but calls to our national emergency number never really stop.  In fact, today we call 911 roughly 240 million times a year.  More than 70 percent of those calls come from wireless phones rather than traditional landline phones.  In other words, the bulk of our emergency calls come over a different technology than the 911 system was designed to use.

Coalition Applauds NG911 Caucus Member In Requesting GAO Review

CONTACT:
George Rice, Executive Director, iCERT
240-398-3065
www.ng911now.org
info@ng911now.org

COALITION APPLAUDS NG911 CAUCUS MEMBERS IN REQUESTING GAO REVIEW

Washington, D.C. (June 22, 2016) — Today, the NG911 NOW Coalition recognized and applauded Representatives Anna Eshoo (CA-18th) and Norma Torres (CA-35th) – Co-Chair and Member of the Congressional Next Generation 911 Caucus, respectively – in requesting that the Government Accountability Office (GAO) conduct a thorough review of the implementation of a nationwide Next Generation 911 system and provide an update on the status of this transition.

“The NG911 NOW Coalition strongly supports the leadership of Reps. Anna Eshoo and Norma Torres in requesting that the GAO conduct a comprehensive review of NG911 systems and the issues delaying NG911 deployment,” said George Rice, Executive Director of iCERT on behalf of the NG911 NOW Coalition.

“Accelerating the implementation of nationwide NG911 services is essential to keep up with modern technology, improve emergency services to the public, and provide a more reliable 911 system. The GAO’s findings will be an important tool to highlight what steps can be taken at all levels of government to meet the ambitious goal set by the NG911 NOW Coalition earlier this year - by the end of 2020, all 911 systems and centers in all 56 states and territories will have sufficiently funded, standards-based, end-to-end, IP-based 911 capabilities. We look forward to working with the GAO on this important effort.”

The NG911 Now Coalition was established by the National Association of State 911 Administrators (NASNA), the National Emergency Number Association (NENA), and the Industry Council for Emergency Response Technologies (iCERT), and is aided by experts in the federal government and academia. The mission of the Coalition is to promote an accelerated implementation of NG911 throughout the nation.

For more information on the NG911 NOW Coalition or to become a supporter of the Coalition’s efforts visit: www.911NOW.org.

###

About the National Association of State 911 Administrators (NASNA)
The purpose of the National Association of State 911 Administrators is to promote information sharing among states with programs dedicated to implementing 911 emergency telephone systems. NASNA assists states with resolving issues necessary to accomplish statewide implementation and maintenance of their 911 systems, along with helping to identify and recommend minimum standards for 911.

Find out more at www.nasna911.org.

About the Industry Council for Emergency Response Technologies (iCERT or Industry Council)
The Industry Council for Emergency Response Technologies is the voice of commercial enterprises in the field of critical communications. The Industry Council plays an important role in addressing public policy issues impacting the emergency calling, communications and response system. Industry Council members believe that business leaders’ expertise can assist public policymakers and agency professionals as they address complex choices regarding advanced communications technology alternatives. Through advocacy, research and in coordination with the public sector, the Industry Council plays a vital role in the development and deployment of emergency response technologies.

Find out more at www.theindustrycouncil.org.

About the National Emergency Number Association (NENA)
NENA serves the public safety community as the only professional organization solely focused on 911 policy, technology, operations, and education issues. With more than 10,000 members in 48 chapters across the United States and around the globe, NENA promotes the implementation and awareness of 911 and international three-digit emergency communications systems. NENA works with public policy leaders, emergency services and telecommunications industry partners, like-minded public safety associations, and other stakeholder groups to develop and carry out critical programs and initiatives, to facilitate the creation of an IP-based Next Generation 911 system, and to establish industry leading standards, training, and certifications.

Find out more at www.nena.org.

  

 

Press Release: Coalition Establishes “Partners Program” To Promote Strategic Alliances For Accelerating The Implementation Of NG911

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CONTACT:
Don Brittingham, Vice Chair, iCERT
Office: (202) 515-2477
Mobile: (410) 598-8678

www.ng911now.org
info@ng911now.org


COALITION ESTABLISHES “PARTNERS PROGRAM” TO PROMOTE STRATEGIC ALLIANCES FOR ACCELERATING THE IMPLEMENTATION OF NG911  

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (June 14, 2016)— The NG911 NOW Coalition announced today that it has created a new program designed to expand participation in the Coalition and to coalesce national, state, and local efforts around a unified goal of deploying Next Generation 911 (NG911) services by the end of 2020.  The “NG911 NOW Partners Program” will support the Coalition’s efforts to broaden support for NG911 by establishing alliances with organizations that are key to effective NG911 implementation.

Joining the NG911 NOW Coalition today as its first “Partners” are five organizations that recognize the importance of NG911 in enhancing the nation’s 911 systems to create a faster, more flexible, resilient, and scalable system that will allow 911 to keep pace with continued advancements in technology.

The Internet2 Technology Evaluation Center (ITEC), a center within the Academy for Advanced Telecommunications and Learning Technologies at Texas A&M University, will provide valuable technical expertise to the Coalition on NG911 and other IP-based technologies.

The 911 Education Foundation (9EF), a research subsidiary of iCERT focused on emergency response support to public safety stakeholders, and the NG911 Institute, a not-for-profit organization that serves as an educational resource for the Congressional NextGen 9-1-1 Caucus , will help the Coalition to raise awareness of NG911 issues and educate policymakers and affected stakeholders on the benefits of accelerating NG911 deployment.

The National States Geographic Information Council (NSGIC) and the Urban and Regional Information Systems Association (URISA), two organizations committed to the advancement and use of geographic information systems (GIS), will help the Coalition drive the advancement of GIS initiatives, which are important to leveraging the full benefits of NG911.

The Coalition appreciates the commitment that these organizations have made, and will continue to make, in advancing NG911 deployment across the country, and we look forward to working closely with these organizations in the coming months and years.  The Coalition invites other interested individuals and organizations to join us in our collective efforts.  For more information visit: www.NG911NOW.org.

The NG911 Now Coalition was established by the National Association of State 911 Administrators (NASNA), the National Emergency Number Association (NENA), and the Industry Council for Emergency Response Technologies (iCERT), and is aided by experts in the federal government, academia, and industry.  The mission of the NG911 NOW Coalition is to promote an accelerated implementation of NG911 throughout the nation.

# # #

About the National Association of State 911 Administrators (NASNA)

The purpose of the National Association of State 911 Administrators is to promote information sharing among states with programs dedicated to implementing 911 emergency telephone systems. NASNA assists states with resolving issues necessary to accomplish statewide implementation and maintenance of their 911 systems, along with helping to identify and recommend minimum standards for 911.

Find out more at
www.nasna911.org.

About the National Emergency Number Association (NENA)

NENA serves the public safety community as the only professional organization solely focused on 911 policy, technology, operations, and education issues. With more than 10,000 members in 48 chapters across the United States and around the globe, NENA promotes the implementation and awareness of 911 and international three-digit emergency communications systems. NENA works with public policy leaders, emergency services and telecommunications industry partners, like-minded public safety associations, and other stakeholder groups to develop and carry out critical programs and initiatives, to facilitate the creation of an IP-based Next Generation 911 system, and to establish industry leading standards, training, and certifications.

Find out more at
www.nena.org.

About the Industry Council for Emergency Response Technologies (iCERT or Industry Council)

The Industry Council for Emergency Response Technologies is the voice of commercial enterprises in the field of critical communications. The Industry Council plays an important role in addressing public policy issues impacting the emergency calling, communications and response system. Industry Council members believe that business leaders’ expertise can assist public policymakers and agency professionals as they address complex choices regarding advanced communications technology alternatives. Through advocacy, research and in coordination with the public sector, the Industry Council plays a vital role in the development and deployment of emergency response technologies.

Find out more at
www.theindustrycouncil.org.  

 

Report: NG9-1-1 Gap Analyses And Next Steps

From "NG-911 Gap Analyses and Next Steps":

"There is little question that Next Generation 9-1-1 (NG9-1-1) will forever change how emergency services are provided in the United States. The capabilities of NG9-1-1 technology will provide the nation’s public safety answering points (PSAPs) and first responders with vitally important information that was inconceivable in an environment dominated by legacy technology. The result will be a dramatic improvement in both lives and property saved, as well as the safety of our nation’s first responders.

However, many challenges will need to be resolvedin the areas of Governance, Funding, Technology, Operations and Educationbefore NG9-1-1 not only comes to fruition, but more importantly becomes ubiquitous across the U.S. In order to promote more effective and timely NG9-1-1 deployment, the NG9- 1-1 NOW Coalition has analyzed each of the challenges (or “gaps”) to timely deployment, has identified potential strategies to address them, and seeks input from the public safety community, industry, and other affected stakeholders on where to place the highest priorities."

Press Release: New Report Details Important Steps To Accelerate NG911 Implementation

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CONTACT:

Don Brittingham, Vice Chair, iCERT
Office: (202) 515-2477
Mobile: (410) 598-8678

www.ng911now.org
info@ng911now.org
 

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (June 13, 2016)— The NG911 NOW Coalition released a report which is an important step in achieving its goal of implementing Next Generation 911 (NG911) services nationwide by the end of 2020. This report NG911 Gap Analyses and Recommended Strategiesidentifies the impediments to rapid and ubiquitous NG911 deployment, and recommends potential strategies to removing those impediments.

Leveraging the knowledge and experience of experts from the public safety community and industry, the Coalition conducted a comprehensive assessment of those issues that have impeded more timely NG911 deployment, including issues in the areas of governance, funding, technology, operations, and education. Identified issues were prioritized, and specific strategies were recommended for addressing those with the highest priority. Ultimately, these strategies will form the basis of a comprehensive National Action Plan for NG911 Implementation, which is expected in the coming months.

A critical component of this National Action Plan is a legislative initiative designed to increase national and state-level NG911 leadership and support for accelerated NG911 deployment. This includes a model regulatory framework to facilitate coordination among local 911 authorities, state executive and legislative leadership, and state regulators, and the development of a new grant program that would provide additional funding resources for NG911.

NG911 will enhance the 911 system to create a faster, more flexible, resilient, and scalable system that allows 911 to keep up with communication technologies used by the public.

“It is vitally important to the safety and security of the nation and its citizens that the nation’s 911 systems keep pace with advancing technology,said Brian Fontes, CEO of the National Emergency Number Association. “The ongoing efforts of the Coalition to accelerate these services throughout the nation are an important step forward in achieving that goal.”

"State governments play a vitally important role in facilitating the deployment of NG911. The state governance, regulatory, statutory, funding, technical and operational, and educational aspects of successful deployment must be addressed at the state level," said Evelyn Bailey, NASNA's executive director. "The states that have made the most progress are those that have addressed these matters. The combined efforts of the Coalition partners will help the remaining states to step up the pace."

"Industry and the public sector are united in their efforts to achieve the Coalition's goals," remarked iCERT Executive Director, George Rice. "Support of the emergency calling system represents one of our nation's most successful public-private partnerships, and through this ongoing and robust partnership we will ensure the viability of 911, now and into the future."

In addition to legislation that addresses critical governance and funding issues, the Coalition’s efforts in the coming months will focus on implementing an educational awareness campaign that highlights the many benefits of NG911 and broadening its outreach to policymakers and affected stakeholders. The Coalition invites those interested in accelerating NG911 to join in its efforts. 

The NG911 Now Coalition was established by the National Association of State 911 Administrators (NASNA), the National Emergency Number Association (NENA), and the Industry Council for Emergency Response Technologies (iCERT), and is aided by experts in the federal government and academia. The mission of the Coalition is to promote an accelerated implementation of NG911 throughout the nation.

For more information on the NG911 NOW Coalition or to become a supporter of the Coalition’s efforts visit: www.911NOW.org

###

About the National Association of State 911 Administrators (NASNA)

The purpose of the National Association of State 911 Administrators is to promote information sharing among states with programs dedicated to implementing 911 emergency telephone systems. NASNA assists states with resolving issues necessary to accomplish statewide implementation and maintenance of their 911 systems, along with helping to identify and recommend minimum standards for 911.

Find out more at www.nasna911.org.

About the Industry Council for Emergency Response Technologies (iCERT or Industry Council)

The Industry Council for Emergency Response Technologies is the voice of commercial enterprises in the field of critical communications. The Industry Council plays an important role in addressing public policy issues impacting the emergency calling, communications and response system. Industry Council members believe that business leaders’ expertise can assist public policymakers and agency professionals as they address complex choices regarding advanced communications technology alternatives. Through advocacy, research and in coordination with the public sector, the Industry Council plays a vital role in the development and deployment of emergency response technologies.

Find out more at www.theindustrycouncil.org.

About the National Emergency Number Association (NENA)

NENA serves the public safety community as the only professional organization solely focused on 911 policy, technology, operations, and education issues. With more than 10,000 members in 48 chapters across the United States and around the globe, NENA promotes the implementation and awareness of 911 and international three-digit emergency communications systems. NENA works with public policy leaders, emergency services and telecommunications industry partners, like-minded public safety associations, and other stakeholder groups to develop and carry out critical programs and initiatives, to facilitate the creation of an IP-based Next Generation 911 system, and to establish industry leading standards, training, and certifications.

Find out more at www.nena.org

 

 

Press Release: NSGIC Supports NG911 NOW Coalition

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

NSGIC Supports NG911 NOW Coalition

FOREST HILL, MD – Last week a new Next Generation 9-1-1 (NG911) Coalition was announced. It consists of three national organizations that have called on the nation to “accelerate the implementation of NG911 services by the end of 2020.” The new coalition is the NG911 NOW Coalition, and it includes the National Association of State 911 Administrators (NASNA), the Industry Council for Emergency Response Technologies (iCERT), and the National Emergency Number Association (NENA).

Today, Chris Diller, President of the National States Geographic Information Council (NSGIC), is announcing NSGIC’s full support for the coalition’s position. When fully implemented, NG911 will modernize our 9-1-1 Public Safety Answering Points (PSAPs or Call Centers) across the nation by upgrading the infrastructure from analog-based systems to Internet Protocol (IP) based technology that will support a whole host of new capabilities.

One of the key capabilities of NG911 will be the utilization of improved location information delivered with each 9-1-1 call to ensure it is routed to the correct PSAP and that first responders are then dispatched to the correct location. Accurate spatial data that is seamless between jurisdictions is integral to this capability. Of particular interest to NSGIC and its membership is the need for the coordinated development of complete, current and consistent spatial data for roads, addresses and response zone boundaries for use by local government. 

While the implementation of NG911 by 2020 will be a challenge, it is one that NSGIC welcomes and is consistent with NSGIC's advocacy for the creation of national spatial data programs that leverage GIS activities of state and local government. Diller noted that “NG911 may be the most important use case for building a National Address Database and an Intelligent Roadway network, and other map data assets that work nationwide, independent of jurisdictional boundaries.”

This move to a nationwide interconnected NG911 system will require the integration of robust GIS datasets produced at the state and local levels and will require the creation of data governance policies and procedures to ensure data available to the NG911 system is both current and accurate.

For more information on the coalition, please refer to the official press release.

# # #
 

Contact Information:
Chris Diller, President
National States Geographic Information Council
9 Newport Drive, Suite 200
Forest Hill, Maryland 21050
Phone: (443) 640-1075
FAX: (443)640-1031   
info@nsgic.org   

FCC Chairman Wheeler Recognizes NG911 NOW Coalition in Congressional Hearing

On Wednesday, in a statement before the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler spoke about the FCC’s progress on several fronts, including public safety, which he calls a primary and essential mission of the Commission.

“I remain committed to working with Congress and other stakeholders to improve our 9-1-1 system,” Wheeler said before the committee. “In too many communities, the communications technology behind the 9-1-1 system is dangerously out of date,” he added.

Chairman Wheeler’s testimony specifically highlights the mission of Next-Generation 9-1-1 to modernize the nation’s public safety answering points. He acknowledges the Next-Gen 911 NOW Coalition, saying he is “encouraged by the recent creation of a coalition to lead a national effort to successfully implement NG911 for all states and territories by the end of 2020.”

Press Release: 9-1-1 organizations launch next generation accelerated deployment effort

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 

9-1-1 ORGANIZATIONS LAUNCH NEXT GENERATION ACCELERATED DEPLOYMENT EFFORT

WASHINGTON (February 23, 2016)—A coalition of 911 public safety and industry leaders, in cooperation with the National 911 Program and the Next Generation 911 Institute, today announced a nationwide effort to accelerate the implementation of Next Generation 911 (NG911) services by the end of 2020.

The NG911 NOW Coalition, a group of national thought leaders in the 911 community, have come together in unprecedented fashion to bring significant attention to achieving NG911 nationwide. The Coalition currently is supported by government partners, members of academia, and led by 911 and emergency communications organizations that share a common mission to promote more effective emergency calling and response services including:

  • National Association of State 911 Administrators (NASNA)
  • Industry Council for Emergency Response Technologies (iCERT)
  • National Emergency Number Association (NENA)

NG911 is a nationwide, standards-based, all-IP emergency communications infrastructure enabling voice and multimedia communications between a 911 caller, the 911 center (known as a “Public Safety Answering Point” or “PSAP”), and on to responders in the field. NG911 will enhance the 911 system to create a faster, more flexible, resilient, and scalable system that allows 911 to keep up with communication technology used by the public. Citizens in need of emergency assistance will be able to transmit photos, videos and other forms of broadband data and applications to 911 professionals, in addition to making a traditional voice call or sending a text message. This could include streaming video from an emergency incident, photos of accident damage or a fleeing suspect, or medical information, all of which will greatly aid 911 professionals in assisting the caller or communicating with field responders and incident commanders. 

Moreover, when a highly reliable, secure, standards-based NG911 system is deployed nationwide, 911 centers will have enhanced tools at their disposal for more effective and efficient response, and increased ability to interoperate with other 911 centers or transfer all functionality in the event of a major disaster.

The NG911 NOW Coalition will be a leading advocate for accelerated deployment of NG911. The Coalition is launching a nationwide campaign to achieve its goal that “by the end of the year 2020, all 911 systems and call centers in all 56 states and territories will have sufficiently funded, standards-based, end-to-end IP-based 911 capabilities, and have retired legacy 911 systems, without any degradation in service.” The mission of the Coalition is to create increased attention to NG911 issues and promote actions that will accelerate implementation of NG911 systems and services throughout the nation. 

The NG911 NOW Coalition will be seeking the assistance of other government and public safety organizations, as well as industry partners as it works to implement an action plan to secure the funding, governance, best practices and policies that will make this vision a reality.

For more information, visit www.NG911NOW.org or email the Coalition at info@NG911NOW.org

# # #


About the National Association of State 911 Administrators (NASNA)

The purpose of the National Association of State 911 Administrators (NASNA) is to promote information sharing among states with programs dedicated to implementing 911 emergency telephone systems. NASNA assists states with resolving issues necessary to accomplish statewide implementation and maintenance of their 911 systems, along with helping to identify and recommend minimum standards for 911.

Find out more at www.nasna911.org.
 

About the Industry Council for Emergency Response Technologies (iCERT)

The Industry Council for Emergency Response Technologies (iCERT or the Industry Council) is the voice of commercial enterprises in the field of critical communications. The Industry Council plays an important role in addressing public policy issues impacting the emergency calling, communications and response system. Industry Council members believe that business leaders’ expertise can assist public policymakers and agency professionals as they address complex choices regarding advanced communications technology alternatives. Through advocacy, research and in coordination with the public sector, the Industry Council plays a vital role in the development and deployment of emergency response technologies.

Find out more at www.theindustrycouncil.org
 

About the National Emergency Number Association (NENA)

NENA serves the public safety community as the only professional organization solely focused on 911 policy, technology, operations, and education issues. With more than 10,000 members in 48 chapters across the United States and around the globe, NENA promotes the implementation and awareness of 911 and international three-digit emergency communications systems. NENA works with public policy leaders, emergency services and telecommunications industry partners, like-minded public safety associations, and other stakeholder groups to develop and carry out critical programs and initiatives, to facilitate the creation of an IP-based Next Generation 911 system, and to establish industry leading standards, training, and certifications.

Find out more at www.nena.org.

The Road to Next Generation

By John Linstrom, Emergency Management

Our nation is on a journey. Our destination is having well-informed emergency response services that have enough information to quickly come to our aid during any crisis. You may be thinking that we already have that in our 911 system. And in a way, you’re right. For decades, we’ve relied on 911 for police, fire and emergency medical response. But just as the first automobiles set the stage for the advanced vehicles we drive today, the national 911 system is full of potential that has yet to be realized. We need to implement the next generation of 911 to continue receiving the emergency services that keep us safe.

Brian Fontes: NG9-1-1 upgrades require leadership, funding

By Carey Goldberg at WBUR

Dispatchers have trouble locating cellphone callers because the technology they use was developed almost 40 years ago and designed for a landline telephone linked to a fixed address, said NENA CEO Brian Fontes. Call centers are working to upgrade to next-generation 9-1-1 technology that accommodates cellphones and texts, but Fontes said making these changes nationwide requires leadership and funding. Some areas are using Wireless Direct as a stopgap measure.

Telematics Triage and Data Exchange

Dorothy Jones is a 75 year-old diabetic attending her grandchild’s birthday party in rural Rockville County, PA. Despite inclement weather and approaching darkness, Dorothy ignores the wishes of her family and friends, and decides to head home that same evening. “Don’t worry,” says Dorothy, “I’ll take the back roads. And I’ll stay far away from those maniacs on the highway,” reassuring other guests on her way out the door. On a desolate rural road halfway home, however, Dorothy suddenly feels weak and shaky, symptoms she recognizes as a warning of impending insulin shock. She reaches for her purse, which contains her emergency glucose and realized that she left her purse and her cellular telephone at the party.

Dorothy presses the emergency button on her vehicle’s telematics system, which automatically dials a third-party private emergency call center, also known as a telematics call center. Currently, mayday systems do not automatically dial 911, minimizing “false alarms” for 911. Luckily, the car is not resting in a wireless “dead zone,” and her call can be completed through the nearest wireless tower. Upon pressing the button, a voice channel is opened between the third-party call center and the driver. The telematics call center specialist immediately knows the woman’s name, the operating status and make/model of her vehicle, and her exact location from the Global Positioning System (DPS) satellites or other wireless location technologies. The specialist-a trained call taker-talks with Dorothy, going through a comprehensive protocol to determine what has happened.

With a call established between Dorothy and the telematics service provider (TSP), the specialist initiates a third-party 911 call. Because it is a third-party call, it is routed based on Dorothy’s location and not the location of the TSP. The call is automatically established as a three-way conference call with Dorothy, the telematics specialist, and the Rockville County 911 Center call taker. The 911 center call taker sees on her screen that the call is a third-party call, and it identifies Dorothy (and her location), as well as the specialist and the TSP. Although located in a different state, the TSP Call Center (as a trusted partner) delivers Dorothy’s voice call, vehicle GPS location information, and other important data via the IP-based emergency services internetwork using established network protocols and communication standards. Working hand-in-hand with the private call center specialist, the 911 call taker notifies and transfers all pertinent response data to the nearest EMS dispatch center, which immediately sends an ambulance to Dorothy’s location. If there had been a crash, other data about the incident would also have been transmitted electronically. Whether Dorothy calls from her vehicle, her handheld cellular telephone, or her home telephone, the system can identify Dorothy as the same person. Dorothy has opted into a database that contains a summary of her medical information, and the call taker can access it directly. In addition, Dorothy’s database entry include a request to automatically notify her son, and the system places a call to her family to notify them of the situation. The son can be automatically added to the conference call if desired. At all times, the victim’s privacy is secure.

As EMS arrives, Dorothy is losing consciousness. The ambulance has no problem locating Dorothy rapidly because the TSP ensures her car’s lights are flashing and periodically sounds the horn. Already aware of Dorothy’s diabetic condition, the paramedic can rapidly evaluate her situation, provide Dorothy with emergency medical care, and transport her to the hospital where her data has been received and reviewed by the medical professionals awaiting her arrival. She is treated and released to her family, who met her at the hospital.

In the NG911 environment, calls from mayday systems like Dorothy’s will be handled more quickly and accurately because the TSP can electronically transfer important data, like GPS coordinates and medical information, directly to the 911 call center. This results in measurable improvements in call processing time, call data accuracy, responder agency response time, and most important, patient outcome.

9-1-1 Call Center Backup / Overload Scenario

Hurricane Laurie, a Category 3 storm, is cutting a swath through Louisiana. At the height of the storm, the 911 center in Richfield Parish is taking the hardest hit. Telephone lines and power lines are down in much of the southern part of the state. Even though the center is fully staffed and its communications systems are still operational, more cellular telephone and Internet messages are coming in than can be handled. Fortunately, the 911 center in the northern part of Louisiana and in Mississippi and Texas can handle the overflow, and can completely take over for the Richfield Parish 911 center if it should be rendered inoperable by the hurricane. Location information arrives with most calls, and even though the call may be received anywhere in a three-state region, the calls can be transferred to the appropriate emergency responder dispatch center. During the height of the storm, response must be triaged. However, emergency management personnel have provided a common, distributed database/GIS that contains and charts each ongoing emergency and its status. Call takers at any answering 911 center put data into the database and can advise callers of evacuation recommendations for the area from which they are calling. Immediate access to the database is invaluable to the public safety agencies throughout the course of any large-scale event. Used during the actual response, identifying routes of travel, evacuation points, and inventory the vendor lists are just a few examples of how having access to “just in time” data will benefit the overall response.

Unfortunately, the Richfield Parish 911 center takes a direct hit from the storm and is completely destroyed. The personnel are able to evacuate to safety in time, but the emergency communications equipment is a total loss. Years earlier, when Hurricane Katrina hit Louisiana, some 911 centers were off-line for almost a week or more. Standards-based IP emergency service networks were subsequently installed in the Gulf Coast states, and intercounty and interstate procedures and protocols were established for emergency and disaster backup operations. As a result, backup 911 centers are able to continue answering inbound 911 calls and routing the information to the correct dispatch centers. This is the exact scenario that was tested during the regional disaster preparedness training session held prior to hurricane season. For a portion of that training day, 911 centers handle the 911 calls for their backup facility. Issues are reported and addressed, and the overall process is refined in preparation for the actual disaster.

Shortly after the storm passes, a temporary trailer is delivered to the parish that contains all the telecommunications and computer equipment to run the emergency communications center until a more permanent solution is rebuilt. Once the trailer is connected to power and the emergency communications internetwork, the 911 center is back up and running, able to answer emergency calls for the parish. The robust, fault-tolerant internetwork and cooperative procedures made all the difference this time.

Inherently, the NG911 system will provide the ability to route and reroute inbound 911 callers to the most appropriate and available 911 center, based on a predefined business process. As a result, there will be an increase in call completion rates (especially in those areas affected by catastrophic events) and call routing and delivery accuracy.

Testimonial: State of Vermont

The State of Vermont completed its first NG 911 network implementation in 2007. With that implementation came opportunities for more efficient call distribution which allowed Vermont to truly operate as one statewide system. All eight of our PSAPs were interconnected within the NG 911 Emergency Services IP network (ESInet). Call distribution was designed to allow calls to flow seamlessly from one PSAP to another if the primary PSAP was unable to answer a call for any reason.

On August 28, 2011, Tropical Storm Irene arrived in Vermont and created extensive damage, especially in the southern parts of the state. The Rutland PSAP – our second busiest call center in terms of call volume - was in danger of flooding and had to be evacuated. Without any manual intervention, 287 calls destined for the Rutland PSAP were automatically routed to available call-takers in the remaining seven PSAPs. There were no reports of lost calls.

Had we not had the ESInet in place, calls from the four-position Rutland PSAP would have rolled over to three specific positions in just one other PSAP. The likelihood of calls waiting in queue or going unanswered would have been significantly greater.

Our NG 9-1-1 system served us well that day – remaining fully operational in spite of a PSAP evacuation, significantly higher than normal call volumes and in the midst of historic flooding and widespread damage.

Tom Wheeler calls on Congress to address next-gen 9-1-1, says FCC has ‘done about everything we can do’

By Donny Jackson, Urgent Communications

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler vows to spend the next year calling on Congress to tackle the issue of funding and deploying next-generation 911 (NG911) in public-safety answering points (PSAPs) throughout the U.S., noting that the FCC has “done about everything we can do” within the agency’s legal authority.

Injured Mt. Baldy hiker rescued using ‘Text-to-911’

By Liset Márquez, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin

An injured hiker was airlifted out of a popular trail Saturday morning after using new technology to send text messages to 9-1-1 operators.

The initial text message to the San Bernardino County communications center came Saturday at 10:45 a.m., said Chris Brookhart, assistant fire chief with Mt. Baldy Fire Department, an all-volunteer organization.

“By text messaging, the reporting parties were able to establish a connection with 9-1-1,” he said. “It’s definitely a helpful technology in the mountains where a connection is a problem.”

Tom Wheeler: The 911 System Isn’t Ready for the iPhone Era

By Tom Wheeler, chairman of the Federal Communications Commission
An op-ed submitted to the New York Times

Simply put, the communications technology behind the 911 system is dangerously out of date. Currently, the centers handle about 240 million calls a year, an increasing number of them from cellphones. But many local 911 call centers can’t receive a text, photo or video from a person in need — capabilities that are considered commonplace for any American with a smartphone. Worse, while our nation makes the transition to broadband networks, too many of our 911 call centers rely on decades-old telephone technology — technology that is no longer being supported by commercial vendors and prone to failure. The market forces driving the broadband revolution will soon have the nation’s 911 system resting on a foundation of sand. The good news is we know what to do.

Next-Gen 911: First Responders Gear Up for a Whole New Wave of Technology

By David Silverberg, GovTechWorks

Imagine Robert, a deaf man, sitting on his front porch at the intersection of two roads. Suddenly, two cars collide. Robert calls 911. He can speak once he thinks he’s been connected to the call center but, he’s unable to respond to an operator’s prompts.

That’s 911 today.

Now imagine the same scene, but this time Robert is living in an area equipped with Next Generation 911 (NG911) technology. Dialing the call center on his smart phone, Robert provides video of himself using sign language. The operator immediately sets up a three-way conference call with a sign language interpreter, who asks Robert to share video of the accident scene and the cars’ license plates. Data from the phone provides precise coordinates for the location, and the license plates are quickly matched with database for information about the cars. Onboard communications systems in the cars, meanwhile, have already sent alerts that air bags deployed, indicating people in the cars might be injured.

By the time emergency medical technicians arrive, they already know who needs to be treated and have a good idea of the extent of their injuries. That information can be relayed to the hospital, so medics can prepare to receive and treat the victims.

That’s the scenario spun by Roger Hixson, technical issues director at the National Emergency Number Association (NENA).

“Emergency communications internetworking and interoperability – it’s the future,” he says.

Next-gen 911 system from Intrado helps Vermont weather Hurricane Irene

By Intrado in IWCE's Urgent Communications

On August 28, 2011—amid the chaos, devastation and destruction of Hurricane Irene—Vermont’s 911 emergency communications service stood steadfast with help from its next-generation 911 emergency services network deployed by Intrado.

Background

In mid-2011, the Vermont Enhanced 911 Board partnered with Intrado to upgrade its legacy emergency communications network to a next-gen 911 emergency services IP network (ESInet). This modern ESInet, combined with Intrado Advanced 911 (A911) routing, enabled dynamic, emergency call-routing processing. The ESInet and A911 routing capabilities were designed to provide more robust, redundant and reliable statewide 911 services. Little did anyone know that this design would soon be tested.

Challenge

On August 28, 2011, Hurricane Irene wreaked havoc in Vermont. The worst flooding in 84 years knocked out a 911 emergency communications center. Water surged throughout communities such as Wilmington, Grafton, Ludlow, Brandon, Waitsfield and Waterbury, washing out more than 200 roads, isolating 13 towns and resulting in 3 fatalities.

Irene’s 11 inches of rain transformed serene mountain streams into raging rivers of destruction that ripped homes from their foundations, devastated crops and destroyed businesses. The storm also affected a number of critical government installations, including Vermont’s second busiest 911 communications center in Rutland, which went off line for about eight hours.

Solution

Despite these problems Vermont’s residents were able to reach 911 during this time, thanks to the Intrado enhanced call-routing system and ESInet implemented just two months prior to the storm.

When the Rutland site went down, the state utilized its newly enhanced call-routing capabilities to immediately and dynamically modify call flows, which kept 911 services available to Vermont citizens during their time of need.

“Our call volume was almost twice as much as we had ever seen,” said David Tucker, executive director of the state of Vermont Enhanced 911 Board, David H. Tucker. “With our legacy system, the system could have been completely overwhelmed. Instead, we were able to distribute the call volume to the other seven PSAPs across the state and ensure that those calls got answered.”

Despite the widespread devastation and the closing of one emergency communications center, all calls to 911 from those whom needed help were answered.

“In the midst of the announcements of road closures, power outages and storm updates, I noticed the following statement appear across the TV screen, ‘911 is operational, continue to call 911 if you have an emergency to report,’” said Tucker. “The system enabled the state to do what it needed to do when it mattered most.

“Having the flexibility to dynamically reroute calls in the face of such challenging weather conditions allowed us to assist our citizens under extraordinary circumstances. Every 911 call that came into the PSAPs on Sunday was answered. If we prevented a caller from attempting to access a road overtaken by the flood, we potentially saved that person’s life.”

Future

The Vermont Enhanced 911 Board intends to deploy more A911 solutions, such as geographical information system (GIS) mapping and video, over its Intrado ESInet in the near future. These and other next-gen 911 solutions will enhance situational awareness for PSAP call takers, dispatchers and responders while helping improve outcomes when lives and property are at stake.

911 under construction: Emergency networks need significant development

By Barry Furey, American City & County

More than 240 million 911 calls are made each year in the United States, and a majority of them come from wireless digital devices, according to the Alexandria, Va.-based National Emergency Number Association (NENA). However, while the number of emergency calls has increased over the last four decades, the 911 network — the piece that connects the caller with emergency assistance — has not changed to meet the demands. In many cases, 911 networks cannot fully use the features of modern telephone devices, such as the ability to send text messages and photos.

The increased use of Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) technology has challenged the viability of 911, as well. Two decades after the first VoIP call, Congress passed The New and Emerging Technologies 911 Improvement Act of 2008 to get VoIP providers to meet the same standards as other carriers, such as telephone companies that provide landlines, including being capable of identifying the location of the emergency caller. And, therein lies another problem: existing legislation is often as outdated as the current equipment, meaning that changes in law may also have to accompany changes in hardware.

Barry Furey is director of the Raleigh-Wake County, N.C., Emergency Communications Center.