The Changing Face of Emergency Calling

Jim Machi : Industry Insight
Jim Machi

The Changing Face of Emergency Calling

The FCC estimates that 70% of 911 calls are placed by wireless callers.  Couple that with the increase in VoIP phone services, and you can quickly see that the majority of 911 calls are no longer coming from wired lines that are associated with specific addresses.  Additionally, with the increased capability of wireless networks, whether 3G or 4G, and with the capability of VoIP networks, one can also see that data, images, and video can also potentially be transmitted in a 911 “call” to a PSAP (Public Safety Answering Point). 

Thankfully, these issues are being tracked in the US by the National Emergency Number Association (NENA).  NENA even has a tradeshow, which was in June.  The Next Generation 9-1-1 initiative is driving the incorporation of these new technical capabilities and also driving the marriage of them with the existing PSAPs.  NENA created a standard called i3 which explains how “networks and devices will eventually work together to enable voice, text, picture, and data exchange between citizens and first responders.”

This is a vibrant and interesting part of our industry.  Tying ESInets (Emergency Services IP Networks) to TDM networks, ensuring the PSAPs can handle video, streaming, data, texting and voice, recording all of that, obtaining the location of a mobile phone and/or a VoIP phone and integrating with legacy networks is a potentially daunting task.  But it is clearly possible.

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