Definition of a Comprehensive Future Vision for NG9-1-1
The Next Generation (NG9-1-1) Initiative has produced one of the first studies that defines and documents a comprehensive future vision for the existing 9-1-1 system.
- The public awareness generated by the Initiative has alerted 9-1-1 stakeholders that a fundamental transformation of the way 9-1-1 calls are originated, delivered, and handled is underway.
- The NG9-1-1 Initiative facilitated requirements setting with a large and diverse group of stakeholders whose interests at times might conflict.
- The results of the NG9-1-1 effort have helped communities become more engaged in the issues and challenges that face the existing 9-1-1 system and to discuss and plan for a future system. The NG9-1-1 tests and demonstrations created a sense of urgency and movement within the community to get more people involved and start discussing the issues as a community.
Validation of NG9-1-1 Architecture
The NG9-1-1 architecture has been validated through a set of proof-of-concept (POC) tests. Twenty-six (26) professional call takers, dispatchers, and supervisory individuals were trained to assist the NG9-1-1 Initiative team with the POC testing. Using seven laboratory test scenarios and eight PSAP test scenarios, tests on the NG9-1-1 prototype system revealed:
- The new design is capable of accommodating calls from a wider range of devices. All five public safety answering points (PSAPs) were able to receive cellular calls, instant messaging, legacy 9-1-1 calls (wireline), telematics (automatic crash notification), Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) calls, and live video feeds. Importantly, the prototype system allowed PSAPs to identify the caller's location and to route the call to the most appropriate response center based on the caller's location.
- The POC included 320 individual tests in the laboratories and the PSAP facilities with 280 (87.5 percent) successfully passing the test criteria. Some examples of results are:
- The ability to transmit test telematics data (speed, vehicular rollover status, and crash velocity) was successfully tested. The test system demonstrated the ability to easily and automatically transfer this important data associated with a vehicle crash to the PSAPs.
- The ability to identify the test caller's location was successfully tested for wireline, wireless, and Internet Protocol (IP)-based calls.
- The ability to send and receive voice, video, data, and text (through instant messaging and short message service) was successfully tested, although issues arose with bandwidth and video streaming methods that caused some video-based calls to fail.
Identification of New Capabilities
POC testing revealed that the NG9-1-1 System provides important new capabilities. For example:
- Tests showed that PSAPs can to link with one another during emergencies, unlike in the past when calls would dead-end at the PSAPs with no way to provide back-up for one another during widespread emergencies such as hurricane evacuations.
- Tests showed that the NG9-1-1 system will have the ability to accommodate streaming video and automatic teleconferencing with interpreting services to better meet need of the deaf/hearing community during emergencies. However, the tests also revealed that PSAPs will require upgrades and technological improvements in order to offer these services.
Validation of PSAP Call Taker Software
POC testing validated that the PSAP call taker software works.
- The new call taker software was designed to assist in consolidating and presenting emergency information received via new technologies in an efficient format. The proof-of-concept tests revealed that the system is capable of assisting call takers with the greater amount of data; instead of 'data overload', the data was presented in a manner that did not cause undue confusion. Importantly, the orientation to the new software was quickly accomplished, indicating that the call taker software is easy-to-understand and the data displayed are straightforward.
- Including call takers in the testing process provided valuable feedback about the functionality that someday they will come to depend on. Their input regarding needs and difficulties in the early stages helped to identify the current system problems that are addressed by the new technologies.
Validation of Core NG9-1-1 Functions and Features
The NG9-1-1 Initiative POC tests validated that core NG9-1-1 functions and features work.
- Key features of the system were demonstrated to show how they enabled emergency calling from a variety of devices and forwarding caller information to the most appropriate call center. POC testing revealed that the system design, requirements and features accurately reflect the needs of the stakeholder community and bring together industry-accepted best practices for implementing complex IP-based solutions.
- The NG9-1-1 was designed to be an open and accessible system. NG9-1-1 system was developed using industry-accepted best practices for networking and designing an IP-based system, industry-accepted standards, and off-the-shelf hardware and software. The POC validated that the NG9-1-1 system can connect with a wide array of devices and technologies.
Increase in System Reliability
The NG9-1-1 system provides new capabilities for stakeholders, while expanding resiliency and redundancy for the public.
- With a transition to an NG9-1-1 system, PSAPs will have the capability to communicate with one another during daily operations and emergencies, unlike today, where call centers typically cannot interoperate with nearby agencies, making it difficult to provide back-up for one another during widespread emergencies such as hurricane evacuations. No longer is a PSAP tied to a specific facility with dedicated telecommunications circuits; NG9-1-1 provides access to systems and networks without regard to geographic boundaries.
- The deaf/hearing-impaired community, historically underserved by the 9-1-1 system, relies heavily on texting capabilities for communications.
- The NG9-1-1 system can not only accommodate the receipt of text messages from a range of devices used by the deaf community, but can accommodate streaming video to broaden type of the information that can be sent.
- Stakeholders from this community have provided input and recommendations at multiple points throughout the NG9-1-1 Initiative regarding accessibility needs; they will remain a constant source of feedback as NG9-1-1 solutions are implemented.
Facilitation of National Transition
The NG9-1-1 Initiative has developed a broad set of resources that will facilitate national transition and inform other 9-1-1 services on how to move to the next generation of capabilities.