Standards provide the foundation for building the future vision of next generation 9-1-1. Applications designed specifically for public safety help agencies respond better and faster. Future systems must help the emergency response community deal with an ever-increasing volume of information from a variety of sources and enable collaboration between diverse providers including 9-1-1 call taking, emergency dispatch, first responders, emergency operations, ancillary functions and more.The world of creating standards is a unique experience where experts from multiple companies join together to define the capabilities needed to solve customer problems or enable desired functions in a cooperative fashion. This participation is critical to ensure that experiences are shared and all interests are represented.
Meeting customer expectations is a balance between delivering new capabilities and waiting for standards to solidify. Businesses must balance the expense and investment to move things forward and stay in lock step with industry standards. And for NextGen 9-1-1, there are various forums where system providers and users are banding together to define the standards needed to establish the foundation necessary to make the NextGen 9-1-1 vision a reality. The primary forums for addressing telecommunications, public safety and 9-1-1 oriented issues are the associations of NENA, APCO, ATIS, and FCC-sponsored activities. Others include 3GPP, TIA, IETF and international forums such as ETSI Emergency Telecommunications (EMTEL).
Move Along, Nothing to See Here
NextGen 9-1-1 capabilities imply a world where systems communicate and exchange a significant amount of information in real time without creating a burden to the users of those systems and services. To make this a vision a reality, the complexities of such an operating environment must be hidden from public safety personnel so they can focus on the important job at hand.
Collaboration is Key
These future systems will need to help public safety and the emergency response community manage an ever-increasing volume of information from a variety of sources—all while enabling the collaboration between 9-1-1 call takers, emergency dispatchers, first responders, emergency operations, ancillary functions and more.
NextGen 9-1-1 call and data processing environment definitions have advanced substantially over the past five years. There are elements of NextGen 9-1-1 deployed today, and there will soon be calls processed according to visionary methods. For example, NextGen 9-1-1 standards will touch various areas such as:
- Communication devices
- Data sources
- Emergency networks
- Exchange interfaces
- Information and transaction record storage and retrieval
- Presentation interfaces
X Marks the Spot
NextGen 9-1-1 utilizes GIS data in ways that go well beyond displaying the location of a wireless call origination on a map. It requires a strong foundation in geographic information system (GIS) technology to change from the way things are done today.
Correct call-processing destination and emergency response will be dynamically determined based on location information and jurisdictional boundaries overlaid together on a map. Such a GIS system and data approach requires significant attention to detail in order to replace the mechanisms that exist in today’s 9-1-1 master street address guide (MSAG). Details and refined standards are needed in some cases, but the framework is sufficient for vendors to provide solutions today.
Netting the Network
Another area critical to the long-term, NextGen 9-1-1 call-processing vision is the evolutionary difference between telecommunication service providers and NextGen 9-1-1 networks or emergency services IP networks (ESInets). The industry is looking at specifications to define an IP-based interface that can deliver location information with call setup instructions. The first step is to simply define an IP interface that can replace today’s legacy time division multiplexed (TDM) technology, and later provide enhanced data including caller location information. These steps allow the industry to provide real incremental value as we move to the NG9-1-1 long-term vision.
More than a Voice
A longer-term vision looks at other forms of request for assistance, or “calls” for help. Standard efforts have started with text messaging to 9-1-1 and machine to machine (M2M) communication scenarios. These early efforts will be available to understand what is possible so public safety authorities can make decisions regarding operation policies and public services.
Beyond the Call
The industry is also looking beyond 9-1-1 call processing toward significant enhancements that will support the integration of information with first responders and post-event analyses. Furthermore, an innovative environment will be established to discover new capabilities for LTE and the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) of broadband.
Mission critical communication will be significantly enhanced as vital information is shared with everyone engaged in an emergency event. As public safety networks advance, technology will enhance the ability to effectively use a wealth of information and services in collaboration between participants.
We Have Only Just Begun
The public safety industry is just beginning to establish a new foundation that will provide new and innovative services for public safety and the American public. Attention to standards ensures we create an environment where on-going innovation is possible. The rate of change is rapidly increasing and standards play a critical role in ensuring we achieve all the promises for the next generation of public safety services.
By Michael Nelson, Senior Technical Officer & VP, Safety Services – West