The National Emergency Number Association, or NENA, recently took a step forward in its quest to develop comprehensive transition plans to migrate to a national Internet Protocol-enabledemergency network capable of receiving and responding to all citizen-activated emergency communications.
Officials from the National E911 Implementation and Coordination Office, or ICO, submitted a report to Congress on the transition to NG911, the next step in the development of the 911 emergency communications system known as Enhanced 911, or “E911.” The 93-page report offers guidelines to service providers, vendors and PSAPs on how to effect the transition to NG911.
NG911 is a system made up of managed IP-based networks and elements that enhance current E911 features and functions and add new capabilities. The technology, which will eventually replace the present E911 system, is designed to provide access to emergency services from all sources, and to offer multimedia data capabilities for PSAPs and other emergency service organizations.
Congress passed a series of bills supporting improvements in the handling of 911 emergency
calls. The most recent - the NET (News - Alert) 911 Improvement Act of 2008 – called for the preparation of a National Plan for migrating to an IP-enabled emergency network.
The plan, called “A National Plan for Migrating to IP-Enabled 911 Systems,” highlights key milestones that must be achieved and identifies legislative issues that officials must consider if widespread IP-enabled 911 is to become a reality. It is meant to serve as a roadmap to implement policy decisions. It identifies and analyzes 911 system migration issues and assesses potential options to resolve them to adhere to requirements set by the NET 911 Improvement Act.
“Transition to IP-enabled 911 will be an evolutionary process, involving technological, economic and institutional change,” the plan said. “As with any transition, there will be challenges as we progress from a circuit switched network to IP-enabled technologies. The paths and schedules for delivering IP-enabled 9-1-1 services to the public will depend on how local, regional and State jurisdictions plan to coordinate, deploy and operate their systems. Transition to future 911 services will also depend on the ability of originating service providers and underlying networks to locate IP-enabled 911 calls and route them appropriately.”
Officials from an Everett, Wash.-based E911 hosted solutions provider 911 ETC have said a national standard for E911 would ensure a higher level of safety for people. The migration toward NG911 is an important step for the safety and success of the nation’s 911 system. What’s more, continued legislative efforts would ensure that businesses comply with E911 safety standards in order to prevent delay or confusion for emergency responders answering distressed calls.
Amy Tierney is a Web editor for TMCnet, covering unified communications, telepresence, IP communications industry trends and mobile technologies. To read more of Amy's articles, please visit her columnist page.
Edited by Amy Tierney