In 2000 NENA first identified the need for an advanced, fully integrated national public safety network. This came to be known as Next Generation 9-1-1 (NG 9-1-1 for short). Since 2006, the US Department of Transportation (DOT) has been leading the way with its Intelligent Transportation Systems initiative and with the support and involvement of NENA and over 30 other organizations.
NG 9-1-1 promises a very different public safety infrastructure than what we have today. All communications, both external and internal, are to be funneled through a secure dedicated network based on Internet Protocol signaling. Emergency calls will be intelligently routed to the nearest PSAP that is equipped to handle the incident, regardless of jurisdiction.
Key Goals and Benefits of NG 9-1-1
- Create a North American IP-based emergency network by linking together current local, regional, and national networks.
- Provide emergency services from the nearest capable provider regardless of local or state boundaries.
- Quickly and efficiently access external knowledge bases that may provide valuable information to first responders.
- Receive data from multiple channels and devices, including cell phones, VoIP, radio, email, chat, PDA’s, PND’s, GPS, telematics, as well as traditional landlines
- Quicker receipt of more robust information delivered to responders
- Achieve communications interoperability among PSAPs and other emergency resources
- Provide a secure environment for emergency communications
- Provide a technology framework that would allow PSAPs to quickly increase staff by channeling emergency calls to home workers.
Sources: DOT, NENA
Achieving a national multi-channel emergency network based on a secure IP network will take many years and require billions of dollars in new investment. The most important point for local PSAPs today is that they need to be making plans and taking actions today to prepare for NG 9-1-1. A good place to start, and one that has already been taken by many progressive public safety offices, is to consider NG 9-1-1 in purchasing decisions. Ask vendors what they have already done or plan to do to conform to the published specifications. Carefully review the extensive information already available trough NENA, APCO, the DOT’s Intelligent Transportation Systems Division, and trade magazines. Review RFQ requirements to help assure that you are making investments for the future as well as for today. Work with vendors that are active on the committees that are working on NG 9-1-1 details and can provide valuable guidance. Research all government funding sources and lobby your elected officials to support legislation that increases resources available for NG 9-1-1 investments.