Have you ever had to make a 9-1-1 call? Have you known someone who had to make a 9-1-1 call?
We hope not. But it’s very likely that you will have to make this kind of call at some point in the future.
That’s why today’s topic – Next Generation 911 or abbreviated NG911 (the updated 9-1-1 system, a transition that’s currently underway in Canada) is so important. It’s been called the most important technological advancement in public safety communications since emergency response vehicles were outfitted with mobile radio.
Interestingly enough, many people actually assume they can text 911, but this capability is only being ushered in with NG911.
This blog post will tell you everything you need to know about Next Generation 911.
What’s Next Generation 911 (NG911)?
NG911 is the “next generation” of the 9-1-1 system.
Think of it as a more enhanced system that will be faster, more reliable and able to accept more than just voice calls. NG911 will now allow people to text and send photos and videos to 9-1-1 such as photos of fleeing suspects or medical information.
The result? Massive improvements in public safety. NG911 will also enable better location-tracking so that call-takers can locate persons more quickly. NG911 will also allow for the transmission of files like building floor plans and enable PSAPs to share information for faster emergency response.
9-1-1 is not something most of us give a lot of thought to on a daily basis. But there are numerous examples of how emergencies can (or could have been) improved by these capabilities. For instance, think of critical situations where it’s a lot safer to communicate via text instead of voice.
Photos and videos also give call takers more information in order for them to better assess the situation and how best to approach it. Again, persons of interest could be identified with photos and videos as well.
There are numerous applications of how NG911 will greatly improve emergency response.
What’s Wrong with Current 9-1-1 Systems?
The original 9-1-1 system was designed for analog wireline phones (i.e. landline telephones), which are only capable of carrying voice and very limited data.
Yes, the system was absolutely the latest and greatest at the time, but that was in the 1950s.
Technology has evolved greatly since then. We now have wireless phones, text messaging, image sharing, video chat, and social media. Today’s 9-1-1 systems aren’t designed to receive this kind of data.
Today, only 67% of homes in Canada have landlines compared to 88% with cell phones according to Statistics Canada! So it’s not hard to see how the technology is outdated.
As a result, 9-1-1 systems need to be upgraded to a digital or Internet-Protocol (IP)-based system – i.e. NG 911.
Who’s Enforcing This Change?
This transition isn’t optional. It’s mandatory as set forth by the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission. In June 2017, they directed all telephone companies to update their networks in order to be ready to provide NG911 services.
By June 2023, all current 9-1-1 systems will be officially decommissioned.
Wrapping It Up
Behind the scenes, public safety answering points (PSAPs) are currently updating their systems in an effort to meet the changing technological landscape through the help of important organizations like the Canadian NG9-1-1 Coalition and APCO Canada.
While the majority of people won’t be aware of these changes, it’s important to get the message out so that you’re aware of the data that PSAPs can receive in the event that you have to call 9-1-1.
Learn more about how Nova Communications and Solacom
Are you a PSAP looking for the best-in-class in Next Generation 911 technology? Nova Communications, along with leading PSAPs and governments, are partnering with Solacom. Call Nova Communications at 1-877-721-7070.