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Next-Generation E911 Leading to Life-Saving Services Nationwide


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September 13, 2012

Next-Generation E911 Leading to Life-Saving Services Nationwide

By Ed Silverstein, TMCnet Contributor

When it is widely available, people will be able to text-message 911 from a wireless phone. In the case of a motor vehicle accident, for example, the precise location of the crash and identity of vehicles will be sent to the police and tow truck companies. Paramedics will also be sent information on who is hurt, their medical histories and the names of any medications they take. Before police arrive, in the case of a crime, police will know if shots had been fired. Or, in case of a bank robbery, live video from the bank will be streamed to patrol cars. While next-Generation E911 is underway, Intrado (News - Alert) serves as a key player in its evolvement.

"It's about getting the right information to the right people in the context that's going on," Intrado chief technology officer Stephen Meer told the Times Call newspaper of Longmont, Colo., in a recent interview.

Next-Generation 911 is already starting to be found in public safety agencies. Dispatch centers will increasingly move from a "circuit-centric" approach to an Internet Protocol-based one, according to the newspaper. Less than a year ago, CTIA (News - Alert)-The Wireless Association reported that close to 32 percent of U.S. homes use a wireless device rather than a landline.

Emergency dispatch centers need to catch up. For example, only three locations in the United States – Blackhawk County, Iowa; Durham, N.C.; and the state of Vermont – can process text messages at 911 dispatch centers, the newspaper said. Also, Verizon (News - Alert) is providing text-to-911 capability in the United States.

To promote Next-Generation 911, Intrado introduced a "Great Migration Offer," which helps emergency agencies figure out if they should upgrade or add equipment, and what they need.

"Many entities are paralyzed -- what to do first," Meer said in the interview. "What we said is, this is real modular. There's a lot of ways this can play out."

Additionally, Thornton, Colo., is beta-testing Intrado's ground-breaking new "Beware" software. In the case of a shooting at a home, Beware tells police who lives in the house, data on the cars registered at the home and even the cell phone number of the homeowner.

Furthemore, in three Texas counties, Bexar Metro 911 Network District provides the emergency communications infrastructure, having recently signed up for Intrado's THOR Shield program, according to a company statement. That includes access to the Tactical Homeland Operational Response (THOR) Shield; a two-story, 80-foot-long vehicle that acts as a mobile dispatch center which deploys Next-Generation 911 technology as quickly and efficiently as needed.

"Where THOR plays a crucial role in our operations is if we had a major catastrophe that disrupts one of our major call centers, we would call upon THOR to deploy into our area," Bill Buchholtz, executive director of the Bexar Metro 911 Network District, told the newspaper. "It's a survivability and a contingency kind of asset."

Want to learn more about the latest in communications and technology? Then be sure to attend ITEXPO West 2012, taking place Oct. 2-5, in Austin, TX.  Stay in touch with everything happening at ITEXPO (News - Alert). Follow us on Twitter.

Edited by Allison Boccamazzo

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