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Moving Forward with Text-to-911 on a Non-NG 9-1-1 System
Moving Forward with Text-to-911 on a Non-NG 9-1-1 System Text-to-9-1-1 Background
The fast propagation of wireless technology and mobile phones has caused substantial changes in how people communicate. Over 90% of Americans have cell phones and text messaging is now a ubiquitous form of conversing.
Wireless technology provides the ability to send a Text-to-9-1-1 message to report an emergency is a critical issue to citizens who are hearing and/or speech impaired. The same ability can aid victims of domestic violence, home invasion and abduction type crimes when the victims are not able to speak out of fear they will be harmed if detected.
That said, since the current delivery method of text messages was not designed for life critical operations. There is often hesitancy and resistance to employing a Text-to-9-1-1 solution on an existing analog 9-1-1 infrastructure, needing to wait for an Internet Protocol (IP) based infrastructure.
Clearly, a Next Generation 9-1-1 Emergency Services Internet Protocol Network (NG9-1-1/ESINet) system that will provide the same level of speed, dependability, security, and location accuracy for a text to 9-1-1 message as a voice 9-1-1 call is the optimal solution. However, many jurisdictions are years away from funding and implementing an NG9-1-1 network. The good news is options are available for jurisdictions that want to employ a text-to-9-1-1 prior to implementing an ESINet.
Even without a NG9-1-1 ESINet, a PSAP can successfully implement a Text to 9-1-1 solution to serve the citizens who need this service. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has provided direction that supports interim options for texting to 9-1-1:
Hearing Impaired Community
The hearing and speech impaired communities have advocated for Text-to-9-1-1 capability since the introduction of NG9-1-1 in 2000. In 2006, progress was made with the Comprehensive Federal Action to Accelerate Emergency 9-1-1 Access and again in 2010 when the Department of Justice 28 CFR Part 35 included – Nondiscrimination on the Basis of Disability in State and Local Government Services; Accessibility of Next Generation 9-1-1. In 2013, the FCC implemented a rule requiring all wireless carriers and providers of text messaging applications to support the ability of consumers to send text messages to 9-1-1 where PSAPs are prepared to receive texts.
Actions by US and Canadian Regulators
The four largest US wireless carriers, Verizon Wireless, AT&T, T-Mobile and Sprint, volunteered to make Text-to-9-1-1 available to their customers by May 15, 2014. Furthermore, all U.S. wireless carriers and other text messaging providers that are not already supporting text-to-911 must be capable of doing so, and must respond to PSAP requests to deliver text-to-911 by June 30, 2015, or six months from the date a PSAP request, whichever is later.
The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) announced enhancements to 9-1-1 services that will enable Canadians who have hearing or speech impairments to communicate with 9-1-1 call centers via text message. CRTC directed telephone and wireless companies to upgrade their networks to support this new feature by January 24, 2014.
Telecommunications Industry Response to Text Messaging
Nation and worldwide alike, the total volume of text messages exceeded voice calls in 2009. Text message volume is increasing exponentially every year since. This growth caused wireless carriers to make significant changes in their infrastructures to increase capacity, speed and reliability. Research shows a significant decline in TDD/TTY utilization since the introduction of mobile text messaging.
Understanding the need for a cost effective and time efficient Text-to-9-1-1 solution, the telecommunications industry responded with new technology that allows texting to 9-1-1 over an existing 9-1-1 analog telecommunications system. While texting 9-1-1 via an existing analog system will not provide the same priority and dependability as a NG9-1-1 system, it does provide a valuable interim solution. The FCC, APCO, NENA, the telecommunications industry and hearing and speech impaired organizations are strong advocates for this interim solution. Numerous PSAPs across the United States and Canada have started implementing Text-to-9-1-1 services.
The Pinocchio Factor and Text-to-9-1-1
There are many myths that fuel resistance to employing a Text-to-9-1-1 solution on an existing analog infrastructure. For example,
All of these statements are not true. PSAPs nationwide have successfully implemented Text-to-9-1-1 services in a cost effective and time efficient manner with tangible improvements to their PSAP and public safety operations.
Facilitating Text-to-9-1-1 Implementation
PSAPs considering implementing Text-to-9-1-1 services in their community, should consider developing a Concept of Operations or ConOps that will guide the operations within the PSAP and among police, fire and EMS units that could utilize the data, text, photo, or video, contained in a Text-to-9-1-1 message.
The ConOps will:
To implement the ConOps, a corresponding Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) must be developed to guide the call takers on handling these messages. As with any new procedure or technology, training materials need to be developed and delivered to the PSAP staff, after the SOP has been tested and approved.
How We Can Help
Winbourne Consulting can assist PSAPs with preparing for Text-to-9-1-1 with any or all of the following services:
The decision to implement a text-to-9-1-1 system should consider many factors. At Winbourne Consulting, we can apply our experience with Text-to-9-1-1 and NG9-1-1 overall to understand all of the elements related to this decision-making process and can provide timely, objective, factual and actionable assistance.
Winbourne Consulting was awarded a contract to provide assistance to the Las Vegas Metro Police Department in the selection of the best solution for new NG9-1-1 CPE equipment that addresses the Department’s unique needs. Las Vegas Metro Police Department has responsibility for one of the top 5 call centers in the country by call volume, handling over 3 million 9-1-1 calls annually. After receiving over half a dozen responses to their recent RFP for NG9-1-1 CPE equipment, the staff of Metro reached out to Winbourne Consulting. Winbourne Consulting quickly assembled a highly skilled team consisting of a Project Manager with historical knowledge of the LVMPD center and an NG9-1-1 Subject Matter Expert (SME) to begin the evaluation. Since March, Winbourne Consulting has been gaining a strong understanding of Metro’s Communications Center operations, has reviewed the RFP and the associated responses, and has been advising the Metro evaluation team on viable options that align with the department’s requirements. Winbourne Consulting will continue to assist Metro with this project through selection of the solution and contract negotiations with the selected CPE partner. It is planned that we will assist in the implementation of the chosen solution as well, to help ensure the continued safety of Las Vegas’ millions of citizens and visitors.
Winbourne Consulting assisted the City of Albany/Dougherty County, Georgia in their successful April 7, 2015 cutover to a new Records Management and Jail Management system. Albany/Dougherty had previously transitioned to the CAD/Mobile/AVL applications in October 2014. The City of Albany and Dougherty County agencies includes: the City of Albany Police, Fire, EMS, 9-1-1/PSAP, Code Enforcement and IT; Dougherty County Sheriff’s Office and Police Department; and Albany/Dougherty Courts.
Winbourne Consulting has provided consulting services to the Albany/Dougherty Criminal Justice Information Systems (CJIS) Executive Committee and the CJIS Project Team since June 2011 for multiple projects including the development of a Public Safety Technology Master Plan, CAD/RMS/Mobile/JMS/BI needs assessment and the procurement, design, configuration, training and implementation of an integrated Commercial Off The Shelf (COTS) solution.
For comments from the Albany Police department and Dougherty County Sheriff’s Department on the implementation, you can visit:
Winbourne Consulting is pleased to have assisted the City of Virginia Beach in the selection of Motorola Systems Premiere One Computer Aided Dispatch and Records Management System in response to the City’s RFP #ITAS-14-0038 for an Integrated Public Safety System. As part of this engagement, Winbourne assisted the City in developing detailed business and technical requirements and specifications, drafting the RFP, evaluating the vendor responses, conducting vendor demonstrations, and negotiations. We are currently preparing to assist the City in providing project management and quality assurance services for the implementation of the selected system.
APCO’s Annual Public Safety Broadband Summit provides a forum for technology experts, policy leaders, industry partners, wireless service providers, and public safety professionals to discuss timely issues affecting the deployment of the FirstNet nationwide public safety broadband network.
39TH ANNUAL LEIM CONFERENCE
Law enforcement practitioners attending the LEIM Conference have consistently identified the following five key takeaways from the conference:
• Networking opportunities with other agencies and practitioners
• Networking opportunities with industry-leading solution providers
• Substantive workshops with practical, relevant content
• Excellent speakers and exceptional facilities
• New insights and knowledge to address operational issues at home
June 27 - July 2
No matter what your role is in public safety, NENA's Annual Conference & Expo delivers the education, resources, and contacts you need to be better equipped to do your job and actively prepare for the road ahead. Featuring inspiring keynote speakers, dozens of education and training sessions designed to inform and empower, comprehensive full-day and multi-day courses and workshops with real-world applications, unparalleled opportunities to network with peers and make the right connections, and an expo hall showcasing cutting-edge products and services, this is the must-attend event of the year for today’s emergency communications professional.
APCO Annual Conference & Expo
August 16-19, 2015
Gear up for the public safety communications industry’s biggest event of the year! If you are a supervisor, manager, director; telecommunicator and dispatcher; engineer/technician; 9-1-1 coordinator; police or fire chief, you’ve got to be in Washington, DC, in August 2015.
Articles of Interest
FCC’s 9-1-1 Regulatory Role Could Expand with Proposed Reliability Rules
The FCC’s Chairman Tom Wheeler wrapped up the business portion of the agency’s Oct. 17 open meeting by commending the Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau’s report summarizing the cause and impact of an April 2014 multistate 9-1-1 outage. Wheeler concluded by charging the bureau with recommending a quick and effective response to the outage. The industry did not have to wait long. In November, the commission released its quick response in the form of a policy statement and notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) with proposed rules to preserve reliable 9-1-1 service as technology evolves.
FCC & DHS Issue Joint Bulletin for First Responders on Signal Jammers
The FCC and the DHS have issued a joint bulletin on cellular, GPS, Wi-Fi and other signal jammers. Signal jammers are illegal and can interfere with operational channels commonly used by first responders, disrupting vital communications or affecting emergency operations. Loss of cellular coverage was also observed in these areas, which prevented 9-1-1 and other emergency calls from being made. Jammers can target cellular, GPS, Wi-Fi and other radio signals individually or in combination.
Regulators Propose Grant Program for Public Safety
Federal regulators will recommend that Congress establish a grant program to fund a nationwide wireless broadband network that would allow police officers, firefighters and other emergency workers to communicate with each other. The Federal Communications Commission is proposing $16 billion to $18 billion in grants over 10 years. FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski said Thursday that the proposal will be part of the agency's national broadband plan.
Emergency-Response Tech Headed for Broader Distribution
The DHS Science and Technology Directorate said it was in the process of transitioning its Next-Generation Incident Command System (NICS), developed in conjunction with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, to the Worldwide Incident Command Services Corporation. WICS is a California-based nonprofit that provides technical and operational support to the NICS user community. NICS is a mobile, web-based system designed to speed collaboration and enhance situational awareness across response agencies, government and the private sector during emergencies. The system can be accessed and controlled from a computer, smart phone or tablet using a web browser and typical Internet connectivity. It does not require software installation by first responders to get basic functionality.