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Next Generation 9-1-1: The Future of America's Emergency Response System

As millions of Americans enjoy the technological advances of the 21st Century, public safety professionals have been forced to work with the outdated system that they have inherited.

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For more than 50 years, Americans have dialed 9-1-1 to get help during an emergency. The telecommunications standards for Public Safety Answering Points (PSAPs) have changed in the 21st Century. At a time when more than 80% of 9-1-1 calls are made from wireless devices, our country's emergency response system is still rooted in outdated technology.

It is time for a nationwide upgrade, and Next Generation 9-1-1 (NG9-1-1) providers are ready to deploy solutions across the country. The challenge is finding the best replacement strategy for each community. This process will allow thousands of centers to transition to NG9-1-1 without compromising the integrity of their region's current technological infrastructure.

The Problem with The Legacy 9-1-1 System

The current technological landscape has changed dramatically since 1967, when the President's Commission on Law Enforcement and Administration of Justice recommended the creation of a national emergency hotline. Most households rely on wireless devices, such as cell phones, tablets, and IoT technology, to reach loved ones and colleagues. When disaster strikes, they call with the expectation that their 9-1-1 operator will have access to the same technological framework that they do.

Unfortunately, that is rarely the case. Our nationwide emergency number was built on a system that is more than 50 years old. Until PSAPs can make significant upgrades, thousands of centers respond to crises without real-time location reporting, effective tools to communicate with the deaf and hearing-impaired, or a strategy for overcoming system failures and network outages.

The Value of Next Generation 9-1-1

As millions of Americans enjoy the technological advances of the 21st Century, public safety professionals have been forced to work with the outdated system that they have inherited. NG9-1-1 will transform their communities, bringing emergency response systems in line with 21st Century standards.

PSAPs that have access to NG9-1-1 technology can:

  • Monitor a caller's location in real-time by leveraging GIS data
  • Receive real-time text, photos, and video, providing an extra layer of protection for the deaf and hard of hearing
  • Respond to network outages quickly and efficiently

With the support of Amazon Web Services (AWS), the world's largest cloud provider, NG9-1-1 developers like NGA 911 are providing cloud-based solutions when communities need them the most. For example, when California was hit with a series of devastating wildfires, NGA 911 rolled out a notification tool to support their statewide network outage reporting system in less than 24 hours. The NGA 911 deployment model is also responsible for bringing a county in Nevada from basic 9-1-1 to NG9-1-1 in less than a year.

Choosing the Right Implementation Strategy

One universal issue that PSAPs struggle with is NG9-1-1 adoption strategy. What will the roll-out and retraining process look like? How much will it cost in terms of planning, man-hours, and cold hard cash?

To overcome these barriers, decision-makers typically choose one of four strategies:

  • Evaluate a wide range of NG9-1-1 options while relying on their legacy system.
  • Migrate to a transitional IP network that will support their current system as well as multimedia communications between callers and 9-1-1 operators.
  • Upgrade their call handling equipment to support multimedia communications as they prepare for network replacement.
  • Replace their existing network with an end-state, i3 compliant NG9-1-1 solution.

With practical techniques that can mitigate some of the disadvantages of a legacy 9-1-1 system, many PSAPs have decided to delay the deployment of NG9-1-1 technology – and are suffering the unintended consequences. The process of upgrading equipment and migrating to a transitional network carries its own costs. Over time, the expense of technological improvements, ongoing maintenance, and network unreliability can become a more significant burden than the deployment of an effective NG9-1-1 solution.

The choice will ultimately depend on the need for a safe, effective, and reliable emergency network in your community. For many centers, the initial cost of implementing NG9-1-1 can seem more daunting than struggling with a legacy system. Waiting can be expensive, too: more than 600,000 people dial 9-1-1 each day, and without an NG9-1-1 solution in place, the limited information that PSAPs receive can lead to the loss of human life.

A cloud-based solution gives PSAPs the ability to move to NG9-1-1 quickly without making temporary upgrades or migrating to a transitional IP network. When you choose an NG9-1-1 cloud-based provider like NGA 911, your end-state solution will have a transformative impact on your center's uptime, maintenance, new service integration, training process, and scalability.

9-1-1 centers across the globe are working to overcome the challenges and roadblocks to develop the right technological infrastructure and pioneering PSAPs of all sizes are bringing NG9-1-1 to their communities today. Proving that the best Next Generation 9-1-1 implementation strategies are focused on the American public's needs, inspiring public safety professionals to push past the limitations of an outdated emergency response system.

At NGA 911 ( we are on a mission to help you make communication easier on both sides of the 9-1-1 call. We do that with secure, cloud-based NG9-1-1 technology. With NGA 911, you get better location, the highest possible fault tolerance and stability, Real-Time Text, and enhanced data to allow for more effective and faster emergency response—allowing you to do what you do best, save lives and protect property.