NextGen is NOWGen: Why Is NG9‑1‑1 Important?

NG9-1-1 -person dialing 9-1-1

By: Paul Guest

Since public safety emergency call centers work well today, what is NG9-1-1 and why is it so important? NG9-1-1 is an advanced emergency response system that leverages modern digital technology to enhance communication and data sharing capabilities, enabling faster and more efficient responses to emergency situations. It supports multimedia inputs such as text, images and video, improving situational awareness for first responders. The primary answer to “why?” though, is to improve the safety of both the public and the first responders.

NG9-1-1 allows emergency callers to be located more quickly when the caller doesn’t know the location or can’t tell the telecommunicator where they are. The technological improvements also protect first responders when 9-1-1 call centers receive images and video from callers and even vehicles with telematics. Knowing the situation before they arrive, the presence of hazardous conditions, and the severity of injuries can help the responders remain safe while saving much-needed time in patient care.

While the 9-1-1 system has served the nation admirably, but the legacy system needs change as technology changes. In 2008, the federal government passed The New and Emerging Technologies 9-1-1 Improvement Act, calling for “a national plan for migrating to a national IP-enabled network capable of receiving calls or data, and responding to all citizen-activated emergency communication and improving information sharing among all emergency response entities.” Technology has evolved dramatically since the first 9-1-1 call was made in the US on February 16, 1968. This effort, called Next Generation 9-1-1, or NG9-1-1, has seen tremendous investment in the four main pillars of technology needed – ESInet, IP-enabled Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP), GIS and enhanced data.

Why NG9-1-1

As technology advances for public safety and 9-1-1, it also evolves for consumers. Twenty years ago, almost every household in the nation had a landline telephone. Now, most households rely solely on cell phones. This shift in consumer technology should be reflected in the adaptability of the 9-1-1 emergency service. Unfortunately, the legacy Enhanced 9-1-1 (E9-1-1) systems are not compatible with IP-based technology, leaving many PSAPs unable to receive enhanced data, GIS information outside their PSAP map, and other NG9-1-1 benefits.

As the population continues to be mobile, and the technology that can transmit data to 9-1-1 travels with them, they also require the 9-1-1 emergency service be flexible. This is where NG9-1-1 comes in, ensuring that the emergency service keeps pace with the changing technology and remains accessible to anyone, anywhere, anytime.

NG9-1-1 is Critical

The most important aspect of an emergency call is the caller’s location. Many PSAPs that receive 9-1-1 calls rely on the caller for their location. With NG9-1-1 and the ability to share geographical information between PSAPs, a caller driving while reporting a possible drunk driver can be transferred more seamlessly between PSAP jurisdictions.

An IP-enabled PSAP could receive video and images from callers and other sources, such as telematics-enabled vehicles. This information can then be relayed using a call handling solution on the IP-enabled network, such as Zetron’s Max Call Taking, which makes it readily available for first responders. It can also provide responders with information on accident locations, so they know where to place their vehicles for maximum safety. They’ll know how many vehicles there are, have a better sense of injury severity, and even if there are any vehicles with hazardous materials placards.

What is an ESInet?

Two components are needed for NG9-1-1. The first is having the core services in place at the PSAP and the second is a connection to an emergency services IP network or ESInet. The ESInet is the cloud-based architecture used to transport emergency calls and enhanced data, like video and images, to the correct PSAP. Frequently, PSAPs will work in a consortium with others in the same county, or counties work together with the state to find the best ESInet for their needs.

The options for an ESInet are to build out the architecture through the PSAP or consortium of PSAPs, and the jurisdictions own the ESInet, contract with a commercial vendor to build and provide the ESInet or use a hybrid method combining parts of each. Whatever the methodology to get to an ESInet, the PSAP still needs to ensure they have the NG9-1-1 core services in place.

Zetron Can Help

The core services required for NG9-1-1 include translating the enhanced data received through the ESInet and pushing that information to the call center. MAX Call Taking can receive and translate that enhanced data for the telecommunicator. As that data flows into the PSAP, MAX CAD (Computer Aided Dispatch) can support all sizes of public safety agencies. Capturing enhanced incident data and sharing it in real-time, MAX CAD prepares first responders ahead of arrival while maintaining an accurate record of the call and related actions.

GIS Mapping provides the literal big picture of the caller’s location in real time. With the associated automatic vehicle locator (AVL) integration, MAX GIS mapping can work as part of the overall solution to improve first responder safety and shorten emergency response times. This information can then be integrated with the MAX Dispatch console solution to track the calls and the first responders, see the enhanced data, keep records of all information, and share that information with a records management solution.

The State of Iowa is one example of an entire state working with PSAPs to implement NG9-1-1. In Iowa County, they have joined the Iowa NG9-1-1 Shared Services Network, providing a pathway to NG9-1-1. Iowa County then looked to the Zetron Max Call Taking solution to integrate with existing systems while providing PSAP staff a flexible and user-friendly call-taking experience.

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The Future of NG9-1-1

As technology continues to advance, call centers must plan for NG9-1-1. NG9-1-1 is no longer down the road or in the future. NextGen is NOWGen, and every PSAP, ECC and call center that impacts public health and safety needs a transition plan. Being left behind in your NG9-1-1 solutions impacts not only the community you serve but also the safety of your first responders.

Happily, for many PSAPs, NG9-1-1 is NowGen9-1-1. No matter the planning stage, Zetron can help with innovative solutions, plans and integrations. Contact us today for more information on how Zetron can help your call center transition to NG9-1-1.

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