In a recent joint announcement, emergency communications leader Cassidian Communications and Greater Harris County 9-1-1 Emergency Network (GHC 9-1-1) declared that they have successfully carried out advanced text messaging trial using the company’s next generation (NG)9-1-1 emergency response call processing platform, VESTA.
“There have been, and unfortunately will continue to be, critical emergency events in which a standard voice-enabled telephone call may not be optimum to request assistance. It’s in these situations where a text message into a 9-1-1 call center may prove to be beneficial,” said Dave Rutan, chief executive officer, Cassidian Communications, in a statement. “We have tested text messaging capabilities on our VESTA platform in Texas for more than 60 days, pushing the technological limits of what can be accomplished in the delivery of text messages. This is a work in progress for us and for the public safety industry; however, the successful trial moves us all forward by demonstrating our ability to handle text messages from any of our next generation platforms with any SMS-enabled device on any wireless service provider.”
The trial involved the receipt and processing of text messages from within the Houston area. With support from four local cellular phone service providers, it consisted of various emergency text messaging scenarios originating throughout the county. The testing during the trial utilized automatic location identification (ALI) capabilities allowing for the call takers to identify the location of the caller.
“We sent our technicians out to some very rural areas as well as outside of our jurisdiction to ensure the technology was working,” said Stan Heffernan, chief operations officer, Greater Harris County 9-1-1 Emergency Network. “It’s imperative that coverage is available throughout our vicinity to serve our large deaf and hard of hearing impaired population. This trial allowed us to study various scenarios to ensure the SMS technology was operational and that the message was received with acceptable message delivery times and it was.”
Heffernan continued, “Many operational implementation and procedure related elements remain to be discussed and ultimately implemented. GHC 9-1-1 has a NG9-1-1 committee made up of representatives of emergency call centers throughout our territory, who are addressing this as we speak.”
Rahul Arora is a TMCnet contributor. He has worked as an editor and freelance writer for several reputed organizations in India. To read more of his articles, please visit his columnist page.