The FCC’s 5 Step Action Plan charting the transition to Next Generation 9-1-1 (NG9-1-1) services, was presented by FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski at the Association of Public Safety Communications Officials conference held in Philadelphia. He told the attendees how he used to work in emergency response. In the 1980s, he was a certified EMT, worked on ambulances in Manhattan, and taught CPR. Like many others, he was in New York on 9/11, walking to work on 8th Avenue when the planes struck.
He explained how NG9-1-1 allows consumers to use any communication device that is available in an emergency. People are going to reach out for help with whatever means of communications they are accustomed to using. A growing number of people use texting but unfortunately the current emergency system doesn’t support texting. It’s hard to imagine that airlines can send text messages if your flight is delayed, but you can’t send a text message to 9-1-1 in an emergency. NG9-1-1 will make sure that your call for help in an emergency is delivered.
Imagine if someone is in a car accident. With NG9-1-1, someone in the car could send pictures of the injuries and the scene to 9-1-1, which EMTs could review in advance. Once on the scene, EMTs could send critical information back to the hospital, including on-site scans and diagnostic information.
With NG9-1-1, dispatchers could access hospital capacity data, real-time road and traffic conditions, and videos from the crash scene available from traffic cameras to decide who to dispatch and where to transport the crash victims.
In another possible scenario, if a patient wearing a 27/7 cardiac monitoring device experiences a cardiac event at home, the device could automatically send a wireless signal to the NG9-1-1 system to request aid, and be able to transmit the patient’s location, identifying data, and relevant medical information.
At the conference, Genachowski presented FCC’s new five stop plan to meet the future needs for NG9-1-1:
• NG9-1-1 location accuracy mechanisms need to be developed. The FCC has already taken steps to improve the accuracy of mobile 9-1-1 and is tackling NG9-1-1 location accuracy.
Last month, the FCC strengthened existing enhanced 9-1-1 location accuracy rules, by requiring all wireless carriers to meet more stringent metrics
• NG9-1-1 technical standards defining the system’s architecture needs to be implemented. Hardware and software has to help carriers and Public Safety Answering Points (PSAP) communicate NG9-1-1 information seamlessly. The 9-1-1 community has completed much of the necessary standards work, but some issues remain on how the architecture will be implemented
• A NG9-1-1 governance framework needs to be developed but the biggest challenge facing NG9-1-1 deployment is that no single entity has jurisdiction. The FCC is working with other federal agencies and 9-1-1 authorities to create a governing framework
• Ways to fund NG9-1-1 in a cost-efficient way needs to be established. The FCC’s Public Safety Bureau is preparing a cost model to identify the expenses associated with deploying the network infrastructure to link PSAPs and carriers.
• The FCC will consider a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to accelerate NG9-1-1 adoption. The intent is to help answer the practical and technical questions on how to enable the transmission of text, photos, and videos to 9-1-1. The rulemaking will also consider how to ensure adequate broadband infrastructure to deliver the bandwidth that PSAPs will need to provide NG9-1-1
Genachowski commented that not only is the FCC working on building a 21st century 9-1-1 system, but industry is taking part in trials. For example, The City of Durham, North Carolina, Verizon and Intrado have launched a six month text-to-9-1-1 trial. In addition, Neustar has been demonstrating “Text Everywhere” a text-to-wireline solution holding real promise for NG9-1-1.
The FCC Chairman explained how the FCC’s five step action plan builds on the launching a few months ago of the Personal Localized Alerting Network (PLAN). PLAN will enable government officials to send text-like alerts to everyone in a targeted geographic area with an enabled mobile device. Since the alerts are geographically targeted, they will reach the right people, at the right time, with the right messages. He announced that PLAN will launch nationwide in April 2012.