It’s no secret: mobile technologies are here to stay.
Although the majority of citizens now make emergency calls on mobile devices, many public safety agencies are still using outdated 911 systems that don’t support text and multimedia messaging or connect to other systems and databases. This lack of interoperability prevents them from leveraging capabilities that can deliver faster and more effective help during an emergency.
As society moves away from copper phone lines toward high-bandwidth wireless connections, public safety agencies should adopt next-generation communications networks to match public expectations, deliver information faster, and respond more efficiently. The future of emergency services – dubbed Next Generation 911 (Next Gen 911) – depends on it.
What is Next Gen 911?
Next Gen 911 allows citizens to contact public safety answering points (PSAPs) via different channels and send a wide variety of new media when requesting emergency assistance.
Powered by Internet Protocol (IP)-based solutions, Next Gen 911 is a far cry from the first emergency service systems, which were built decades ago using analog technologies. Since then, technology has exploded to include voice, text, video, photos, social media, and other real-time data. But that’s not all.
As connected sensors become more commonplace in homes, vehicles, and cities, next-gen emergency call centers will also receive information from alarms, vehicle telematics, video cameras, intelligent roadway systems, and additional third-party data. This includes citizen medical information, hazardous materials location details, and other data services.
To realize these benefits and become a truly 21st century service, PSAPs must upgrade to Next Gen 911 systems as soon as possible.
Challenges & opportunities
Next Gen 911 enables emergency call centers to communicate with citizens in new ways and receive lifesaving data from third-party sources. However, implementing these new technologies can also require extensive upgrades.
The cost of these upgrades means few call centers have the infrastructure in place to connect with such a network. However, governments support this move, so PSAPs must prepare.
PSAPs equipped with next-gen capabilities can offer public safety services that are dramatically superior to what is possible today, as long as each communications center has the internal technology and training to manage, filter, and understand valuable information streams.
By upgrading your infrastructure and embracing advanced communications and computer-aided dispatch (CAD) technologies, your agency can take advantage of one of the most exciting opportunities for the public safety industry in decades.
Take a closer look
Think your agency might be ready for Next Gen 911? Download our white paper to learn:
- How leveraging new types of data can enhance communication with citizens
- How integrated call control empowers call-takers to better prioritize incidents
- How connecting to sensors enables PSAPs to be more proactive
- Why cities should choose an interoperable PSAP architecture
- What infrastructure is needed to deploy a Next Gen 911 solution
You can also explore HxGN OnCall Dispatch, our new suite of Next Gen 911 solutions.
Lucy Berry DeButy is a content marketing writer and editor for Hexagon’s Safety & Infrastructure division. Part of the global marketing team since 2017, she has bachelor’s degrees in English and journalism from the University of North Alabama and more than 10 years of experience as a writer and editor. A former journalist, Lucy loves sharing stories about how Hexagon solutions are making the world a safer, smarter place to live, work, and visit.