FEATURED IN TECHNOLOGY AND COMMUNICATIONS
For more than 40 years, our nation’s 9-1-1 system has served us well – except there’s now a glitch. The digital age has transformed the way we communicate, with text, cell, photos and videos making it possible to connect with anyone, anywhere. Yet the 9-1-1 network design remains based on analog technology with fixed endpoints, making it incompatible with our increasingly wireless mobile society.
Since the federal law was passed in February, 9-1-1 has received a high-profile boost to help ensure it remains relevant in the 21st century. Included in this legislation are two main provisions that will impact the future of public safety: $7 billion in funding for a national public safety broadband network (which was discussed in my last post) and $115 million to support Next Generation 9-1-1 (NG9-1-1) technologies. This means that in place of “Old World” E911, we can eventually expect to have a communications structure that’s data centric, integrates multimedia such as text and video, and is based on open standards. Cassidian Communications, a Raytheon partner, stands at the forefront of this next-gen development with its equipment already being used in Emergency Services IP Network (ESInet) solutions in Montana and Texas.
As laid out by the federal government, this $115 million in grant money will come from spectrum auction revenue, with the funding only becoming available after the spectrum is auctioned. The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) are authorized to oversee grant distribution through the end of fiscal year 2022.
Matching grants of up to 60 percent of a project’s cost will be given to eligible applicants. The funds can be used for several purposes, including implementing an IP-enabled emergency network; operating NG9-1-1 services and applications; establishing IP backbone networks and the software infrastructure needed to interconnect emergency response organizations; and training public safety personnel, such as call takers, first responders and others who are part of the emergency response chain in 9-1-1 services.
By building out an interoperable NG9-1-1 system we would see:
- Improved delivery and management of content from IP endpoints such as IP video, alarms and real-time data;
- Advanced routing capabilities and more flexible location of call-taking positions;
- A higher degree of interoperability between emergency call centers (PSAP to PSAP) as well as from PSAPs to first responders; and
- Potential lower communications costs over the long term when bringing calls into the PSAP and transferring calls out of it.
With NG9-1-1 technologies, our 9-1-1 system can work in tandem with police departments and other public safety agencies in ensuring a timely response to emergencies and enhancing interoperability for all.
You can read the full text of the Next Generation 9-1-1 Advancement Act, subtitle E of the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act here, starting on page 82. http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/BILLS-112hr3630enr/pdf/BILLS-112hr3630enr.pdf