The Time is Now for Enterprises, Emergency Communications Professionals to Prepare for Next-Generation 911

Aug 18, 2011

By Jerry Eisner, ENP | Group Director-Public Safety

Someone just broke into my apartment. I am in the closet, I don’t want them to hear me. I sent a text message with the guy’s picture to 911. Where are the police?

Unfortunately, today’s 9-1-1 technology is not capable of receiving text messages. However, in the immediate near future, that capability and much more is coming with the deployment of Next Generation 9-1-1. NG9-1-1 is being designed to incorporate emergency calls for service from both traditional telephone devices like land line and cellular telephones and non-traditional methods including Text, Instant Messaging, pictures and video.

The technology that makes these new capabilities possible changes the way 9-1-1 calls are handled within the telephone companies today. NG9-1-1 calls for Session Initiated Protocol (SIP)-based messaging on private, secure, Emergency Service Internet protocol-based networks. An easy way to understand the capabilities of the SIP protocol is to think of a freight train, where each car can carry a different piece of information, like street number, JPEG file, or latitude and longitude. At the Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP), new technology will be deployed that has the ability to unload the SIP train. You are probably already using SIP as part of your communications technology toolkit. When you use Microsoft’s SKYPE to communicate with someone, whether IM, voice, or video, the underlying technology is based on SIP messaging.

As we move from the circuit-based telephony environment to the world of Voice over IP and SIP messaging, a migration path has to support both technologies, seamlessly. There cannot be one moment where calls to 9-1-1 cannot be routed, processed, and delivered to the PSAP. That’s why the National Emergency Number Association (NENA) recently approved its i3 standard for key elements of NG9-1-1 systems.

As enterprises and emergency communications professionals begin the migration to NG9-1-1, proven technologies using gateways to both move between analog and digital voice and to handle and deliver the ALI or location data from the legacy world into the NG9-1-1 environment will ease the transition.

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