By John Snapp VP of Technology for West, Safety Services
A significant goal was achieved in 2009 when a public safety answering point (PSAP) located in the basement of a county jail in Waterloo, Iowa, accepted the first ever text message to 9-1-1. The Blackhawk County center made history when they successfully received a simple message to send help.
Today, thanks to the voluntary commitment of the carriers to enable the support and routing of text-to-911 calls, PSAPs can prepare their centers to accept and respond to 9-1-1 text messages. Industry leaders have developed standards and hundreds of PSAPs have registered with the FCC to certify their readiness to accept text messages.
There’s even more good news! On April 27, 2016, a press release was issued announcing that West and Airbus DS Communications have collaborated to deliver a state-of-the-art call-handling solution that makes it easier for 9-1-1 call-takers in even more PSAPs to manage SMS text to 9-1-1 messages. The integration provides a seamless connection from the West Text Control Center (TCC) to the PSAP and simplifies the process of text-to-911 call delivery for Airbus PSAPs.
Integrated text-to-911 means that PSAPs, once hindered by cumbersome processes required to coordinate services between multiple entities, may now easily obtain and implement the tools needed to accept SMS text messages. Simply access our customized website to begin the set-up.
Training is minimal and existing applications already used by the PSAP are optimized. External transfers are entirely supported. Integrated with existing call flow, West’s TCC now supports a variety of “in-band” commands such as private chat between two PSAPs, the ability to “conference in” another PSAP, and transfer text dialog, along with the last location, to most TEXT enabled PSAPs irrespective of which CPE or TCC connection they’ve chosen.
The ability to externally transfer text messages is another milestone in the world of 9-1-1. The TCC transforms possibility into reality. The TCC acts as a converter between the commercial mobile networks and the next generation emergency services IP network (ESInet), which delivers the text message to the PSAP. Beyond the TCC, the text call flow is guided by the National Emergency Number Association (NENA) i3 and Alliance for Telecommunications Industry Solutions (ATIS) standards. These two sets of standards work together, providing an efficient pathway for text-to-9-1-1 messages until MMES is implemented nationwide. Once MMES is implemented by the wireless carriers, texting will begin to utilize the same location capabilities of voice 911calls along with the ability to seamlessly support real time text (RTT), videos and pictures to 9-1-1.
Want to see how Integrated TXT29-1-1® works? Stop by West booth #302 at 2016 NENA in Indianapolis, June 13-16.
As VP of Technology for West, John Snapp provides strategic direction and coordination of technical activities within the wireless group and between various departments within the company. Mr. Snapp was the Chief Architect behind the company’s Text to 9-1-1 initiative. Mr. Snapp has served the wireless industry since 1991 and holds 16 patents. He has directed technical groups for various wireless carriers in both engineering and operational roles.