Next-Generation 9-1-1 Trend: End-to-End Solutions for Large Enterprise Customers

Apr 04, 2012

By Nick Maier | Senior Vice President

As those of us in the communications industry continue to define next generation 911, a new term has entered the evolving next-gen vernacular: end-to-end.

What does end-to-end NG911 mean, and what are the implications for large enterprise, government, military customers and PSAPs?

End-to-end NG911 refers to an all-IP network using SIP and network elements defined in the National Emergency Number Association’s i3 standards that send and route 911 calls based on the location of the caller. The unique differentiator in the NENA i3 standard is that the location of the 911 caller is transmitted in the SIP signaling stream when the 911 call is made. The 911 call is routed to the correct PSAP based on the location object in the call, and both the voice RTP stream and the location arrive at the PSAP over an IP/SIP network.

If you are a large, multi-campus enterprise like a university or military base that answers your own 911 calls and has your own emergency responders, you are a likely candidate to implement the NENA i3 standards, which dictate how networks and devices will work together to enable voice, text, picture, and data exchange between 911 callers and first responders. Since you own your own network and dictate the voice endpoints used on the network, you are in a prime position to implement end-to-end NG911.

We are just now beginning to see SIP voice endpoints capable of requesting and storing their location. Within a few years, all voice endpoints, on both the cellular network and enterprise networks, will be able to send their location as an object when they dial 911. Routing these calls over public networks will require a substantial overhaul of the existing 911 network. Already, certain states like North Carolina, North Dakota, Texas and Vermont are connecting their PSAPs with NG911 networks to handle this traffic. These networks provide many benefits in terms of cost savings, redundancy, scalability, and personnel utilization while delivering improved situational awareness for emergency response.

The industry has done a commendable job of thoughtfully developing the NENA i3 standard and recently completed its fourth interoperability bake-off among dozens of providers of NG911 network equipment, demonstrating that the technology is available today for early adopters who control their own networks and wish to implement end-to-end NG911. However, for most states, counties and voice network providers, the move to NG911 will be more of a migration than a leap, with proven gateways and other transition technologies easing the transition.

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