On February 16, 1968, the first 9-1-1 call was placed by Senator Rankin Fite in Haleyville, Alabama. Before this time, if someone had an emergency, they would dial “0” for the operator or call the local station. It wasn’t until the Public Safety Act of 1999 that 9-1-1 was officially established as the nation’s emergency calling number.
Back in 1968, AT&T was the telephone service provider for most of the United States, and rotary phones were predominantly used. For those of you who never used a rotary phone before, YouTube demos highlight what it was like to place a call.
The 9-1-1 system is now so familiar that most people don’t even think about it, until an emergency happens. 9-1-1 remains a vital part of everyday crime-fighting, fire and emergency medical response, as well as the management of major events and the response to natural disasters. Legacy 9-1-1 systems installed decades ago are based on analog circuit-switched technology used in the Public Switched Telephone Networks (PSTN), and remain the backbone of how calls are delivered.
While not much has changed with the technology in use, what has changed is how calls to 9-1-1 are placed.
Approximately 240 million 9-1-1 calls are placed a year with 80% of calls using cellular phones. With the proliferation of smart devices now in use, new technology colliding with old infrastructure can have major implications in call processing speed, flexibility to route calls, and location accuracy by PSAPs (Public Safety Answering Points) when help is needed most.
9-1-1 services need to grow beyond voice to save seconds and lives.
Public safety agencies recognize the need to improve supporting requests for assistance and face many challenges in transforming how they can respond faster and smarter. The efforts of the NG9-1-1 Institute, APCO International, NENA and iCERT organizations place the critical needs of public safety in the forefront to achieve the true promise of Next Generation 9-1-1 -- helping first responders do a better job and protect the well-being of the communities served.
The next 50 years: accelerating transformation.
NG9-1-1 will eventually replace the current 9-1-1 systems allowing citizens to send text messages, photos, videos, and other digital information to public safety agencies to respond more safely and effectively. Motorola Solutions is proud to be working alongside public safety agencies for 90 years, innovating mission-critical communications, and providing service and support for call-taking and dispatch solutions for over 30 years, including PremierOne and Spillman Flex. Our expansion investment with CallWorks and pending acquisition of Airbus DS Communications, along with our partnership with RapidSoS, are designed to help agencies accelerate beyond NG9-1-1 and expand their capabilities with enhanced intelligence for improved response and safety.
Over these past 50 years, 9-1-1 has saved thousands of lives thanks to the many heroes who helped answer the calls. As technology rapidly evolves, Next Generation 9-1-1 delivers the flexibility and tools needed to effectively and efficiently support operations and achieve the best possible outcome for years to come.
Dan Sawicki is Principal Strategy Consultant, Emergency Call Handling.
Precise 9-1-1 caller location from RapidSOS has been integrated with CommandCentral to help find and better respond to those in need.
In April, we announced a partnership with RapidSOS to deliver precise location information for U.S. 9-1-1 calls made from smartphones. The initial integration shared precise location across the emergency call, from citizens in need to call-takers using our CallWorks application. We are now pleased to announce the expansion of this valuable functionality, and more, into our CommandCentral platform, starting with CommandCentral Inform.
CommandCentral Inform, which provides a map-based, common operating picture of events and resource locations, will now include a 9-1-1 call data layer to display caller locations alongside other critical operational information. But even better, is the ability for CommandCentral Inform to also display additional data sent from the smartphone upon a call being made. This could include health information of the caller, demographic information and even telematics from connected cars, wearables and other IoT data sources - all to provide greater context to the call.
By expanding into the CommandCentral platform, this vital information is now not only accessible to Call Takers using CallWorks, but also Supervisors, Analysts, Command Staff and even First Responders who are in need of increased situational awareness for better decision making.
This integration also shows our increased commitment to providing the most seamlessly integrated public safety software suite, from call intake to incident resolution. “We are able to provide an uninterrupted flow of information. This creates more efficient and streamlined workflows” said Andrew Sinclair, the newly appointed head of Motorola Solutions’ Software Enterprise. “Because of integration across the portfolio, first responders are able to act more collaboratively and efficiently and ultimately be that much more successful.”
"The integration of data from the RapidSOS NG9-1-1 Clearinghouse into CommandCentral Inform creates an unprecedented flow of information around an emergency," said Michael Martin, CEO of RapidSOS. "The result is accelerated response, first responders with unparalleled situational awareness, and lives saved."
This new integration will be on display at the Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials (APCO) 2017 Annual Conference & Expo August 13th - 16th in Denver, Colorado at both the Motorola Solutions booth #801 and RapidSOS booth #747.
Bradley Janitz is Global Marketing Manager at Motorola Solutions.
NG9-1-1 ALLOWS US TO PROVIDE HIGH-PERFORMANCE SERVICE
Gloucester County is big, diverse and thriving. We’re a tight-knit community that’s large enough to leverage national and state resources, and yet small enough so that residents never feel that our services are impersonal. They know they can rely on county personnel to provide individual help whenever they need it.
Emergency services, delivered through the Gloucester County Emergency Response Center, are a perfect example of this. By collaborating with all 24 of our municipalities on 9-1-1 dispatch and emergency management, we can deliver the necessary response quickly and effectively. We’ve reduced the time of response for emergencies and increased the quality of that response. People here feel safe because of that.
WE GAINED BETTER INTEROPERABILITY AND ACCURACY
More than 1,500 police officers and 300 civilians provide a full range of law enforcement services to nearly 900,000 residents and business owners, while our Emergency Response Center dispatches police, fire and emergency medical services for 24 towns in Gloucester County, as well as for five towns in the neighboring Atlantic County. The Gloucester County Fire/EMS Department alone responded to more than 145,000 calls in 2016.
With so many different emergency services, interoperability is crucial, so we had to upgrade to the latest next generation 9-1-1 technology regardless of how complicated we thought it would be. Once we started the process, it went quicker than we realized. We also recently upgraded to a push-to-talk solution that allows all our first responders, as well as supervisors and administrators, to communicate with each other in a device-agnostic manner.
WE ARE NOW ABLE TO RESPOND TO CITIZENS WHO CAN’T CALL 9-1-1, BUT CAN TEXT
As citizens, we use so many more communication channels than we used to. For many of us, texting is our first thought when we need to reach someone. As first responders, we know that we must be responsive to our customers, no matter how they try to reach us.
With a growing population and rapid changes in technology, we knew it was important to bring new capabilities in an effort to help citizens in times of need. That included upgrading our call center technology to one that was ready for text to 9-1-1.
We pride ourselves on being innovative, collaborative and doing things that make a difference for people who live here.
This is a place where people want to stay, where they want to invest in their future. Businesses want to stay here because they know our future is bright. And the same goes for our community’s first responders and emergency telecommunicators. All of us who work in emergency response do it for the reward of helping people with vital information, support or rescue. We’re a central part of the life of Gloucester County, and we love what we do.
Tom Butts is Director of 9-1-1, Gloucester County Emergency Response.
Most 9-1-1 agencies know what an internet browser is. However, not many understand what NG9-1-1 is and how to transition. Almost every public safety agency is trying to figure out all the implications of next generation emergency. I have met with many customers who ask similar questions: does the solution I purchased today work for tomorrow’s standard? As Text-to 9-1-1 advances, can my command center software easily adapt? Are future standard enhancements included in my maintenance agreement? Is the system flexible to address future standard requirements?
The transition to a next generation call system can involve an ample amount of work. Overall, agencies must be ready to plan out budgeting, technical preparation, operational planning, governance issues and more.
As you look to integrate NG9-1-1 into your emergency communications center, CallWorks, previously called Emergency CallWorks, can answer ‘YES’ to all those questions. CallWorks provides an innovative, browser based NG9-1-1 offering that converges call taking, dispatch and mapping, together. As an integrated part of the Motorola Solutions software enterprise, CallWorks continually adapts to the latest NG9-1-1 standards.
What’s the benefit of a browser based NG9-1-1 solution?
It is a reliable, repeatable system with reduced deployment time at an affordable price. Flexibility is inherently built into the browser-based solution, allowing it to be implemented on-site or hosted and scaled to the size of an organization. Want to add a new position or a new site? It’s easy to do.
Because the NG9-1-1 standard is constantly evolving, the other real benefit of a browser based solution is the ease of upgrade to future standard requirements. With an ongoing maintenance agreement, your system is protected. There will not be any unforeseen software expenses to meet future standard requirements, such as text to 9-1-1 with an appropriate service plan.
Going to APCO in Denver, CO – August 13-16, 2017?
Please stop by Motorola Solutions Booth #801 for a quick demo of CallWorks, first hand. We know you will be amazed at the intuitive user interface of this browser-based, innovative NG9-1-1 solution. Experience the simplicity of Text to 9-1-1, the precise location of the mapping tool and the integrated CAD. Not going to APCO? See why Gloucester County transitioned to NG911 in this blog or watch their story here.
I am so excited to share the benefits of a browser based NG9-1-1 system and what it means for the future of next generation call taking. Stop by Motorola Solutions Booth #801 at APCO 2017, meet with a NG9-1-1 expert and spend some time exploring the innovations beyond Next Generation.
Craig Dollar is the Director of 9-1-1 Strategic Projects at Motorola Solutions.
In 2015, Motorola Solutions purchased Emergency CallWorks to provide customers with a proven browser based solution. Beginning June 1, 2017, we have simplified the name to CallWorks but nothing else changes. It is still the same reliable, customer driven software, developed by the same people with the same relentless customer service trusted by public safety organizations. Stop by booth #801 at APCO and experience CallWorks first hand.
Read the CallWorks: Innovation Beyond Next Generation Blog for more information on the acquisition of Emergency CallWorks.
April is 9-1-1 Education Month. Throughout the month this blog series will highlight different aspects of the emergency response process, including what happens when you text or call 9-1-1, and will pay tribute to the women and men behind the phones. This April, take some time to learn something new about America’s emergency response system.
In late December 2014, Shannell Anderson was delivering papers in Atlanta around 4 a.m when she accidentally drove into a lake. She did what anyone would do, she took out her cell phone and dialed 9-1-1. Unfortunately, her call was routed to a neighboring county’s 9-1-1 center and her location wasn’t showing up on the dispatcher’s maps. Shannell knew her exact cross streets, but unfortunately the dispatcher wasn’t familiar with the area and didn’t have access to good wireless caller location or map data.
It ultimately took responders over 20 minutes to get to her, and she tragically died a week later in the hospital. Unfortunately, and surprisingly to some, this story isn’t unique to Shannell. This story highlights some important facts to consider when you are calling 9-1-1 from a mobile phone.
RAPIDSOS + MOTOROLA SOLUTIONS: SOLVING THE MOBILE LOCATION CHALLENGE
The first thing dispatchers ask you when you call 9-1-1 is “What’s the location of your emergency?” That is because if you are calling from a mobile phone, the location information that dispatchers initially receive is based on the location of the cell-tower, not the caller, and can be of limited use in pinpointing a caller’s location, especially for calls made from indoor environments. The FCC estimates that over 10,000 lives could be saved annually with better location data. As people ditch landlines and rely solely on their mobile phones, the location technologies used by wireless carriers are just not quick enough to provide timely, accurate caller location.
INTRODUCING AN INTEGRATED SOLUTION FOR FASTER, MORE ACCURATE 9-1-1 LOCATION
Through the RapidSOS integration with Motorola Solutions Emergency CallWorks software, call takers are able to query the RapidSOS NG911 (Next Generation 9-1-1) Clearinghouse to get precise handset location for 9-1-1 calls through technology that is already installed on millions of smartphone devices (no app required!). Rather than relying on imprecise and often delayed Phase 2 location, dispatchers are now able to get more closer and faster location that automatically updates.
Location from RapidSOS does not rely on a singular source like GPS (which only works outdoors) or cell tower triangulation (which works everywhere, but is very imprecise). Instead, RapidSOS leverages all enabled sensors on the device, including WiFi access Points, Bluetooth beacons and more. For the first time in Public Safety, location accuracy will be similar to the capabilities of commercial hybrid location services like Google Maps that citizens are used to.
It doesn’t stop at location for wireless 9-1-1 calls. Motorola Solutions is working to integrate the full capabilities of the RapidSOS NG9-1-1 Clearinghouse into the entire emergency response workflow so first responders have unprecedented situational awareness.
Want to learn more? Attend the upcoming Motorola Solutions Smart Public Safety Webinar about how RapidSOS and Motorola are working together to provide precise location and enhanced data to 9-1-1 call takers, dispatchers and first responders through the newest version of Emergency CallWorks products.
Reinhard Ekl is RapidSOS Director of Product and 9-1-1.
April is 9-1-1 Education Month. Throughout the month this blog series will highlight many aspects of the emergency response and pay tribute to the men and women behind the call for help.
Within the deaf community, the process to get emergency help can be cumbersome. It often requires the hearing-disabled person to use an older analog TDD system or contact a 711 relay center which then translates text and voice between a deaf individual and the 9-1-1 operator.
Technology has evolved over the years whereas TTY devices have commonly become less essential for day to day interactions for the hearing or speech disabled. Many now use mobile apps, instant messaging, E-mail, video chat or text messages as a form of communications with close family, friends and other associates.
The latest technology, Text to 9-1-1, can be a life and time saving tool for about 15% of the population(1), those suffering from a hearing loss. The person in need simply uses a familiar cell phone text process to send a message directly to the 9-1-1 center. No need to go through a relay center or use antiquated analog TDD technology.
Empowering citizens in uncomfortable situations to contact our 9-1-1 center in the most convenient way possible is Waukesha County’s goal. What we want to teach our citizens is “CALL IF YOU CAN, TEXT IF YOU CAN’T “. A voice call is still the best choice since the dialog between the dispatcher and citizen is valuable, but text is a viable alternative and critical for those who are unable to speak.
Not only can Text to 9-1-1 help the hearing and speech disabled community, but it is also a critical tool for those in difficult situations where a voice call might put them in harm’s way, for example a home invasion or domestic abuse.
Whereas the Text to 9-1-1 can be a life saving addition to any 9-1-1- system, there are some limitations. Carriers do not provide location information with a text, so it is imperative the user sends location information along with the call for help. And just like regular text messages, they can take longer to receive and may be received out of order or not at all.
Only about 700 of the over 5800 PSAPS in the US have text to 9-1-1 capabilities. This technology is a critical addition to any NG9-1-1 system, not as a standalone system but as an integrated, public safety grade process with other voice handling operations. Answering the call from the hearing and speech disabled community is a critical benefit of adding Text-to 9-1-1.
Gary Bell, ENP, Director of the Waukesha County Department of Emergency Preparedness.
Waukesha County, Wisconsin recently went live (March 2017) with a public safety grade text to 9-1-1 solution utilizing Motorola Solutions Emergency CallWorks 9-1-1 system. Our system can now receive voice calls and text messages. Currently Waukesha, along with the rest of the state of Wisconsin does not receive MMS messaging to include: group text, pictures or videos but through an ESINet implementation, plans to address this in the future.
For more information on Waukesha County Text to 9-1-1 capabilities check out the following news articles: