Frequently Asked Questions "FAQ" for Next Generation 9-1-1

Next Generation 911 (NG911) is the next evolution of emergency call processing and response systems technology. The purpose of NG9-1-1 is to provide the public with better access to emergency services by leveraging advanced communications and wireless technologies.

NG9-1-1 will give first responders more information about what they are facing during an emergency response, providing a tactical advantage in potentially life-threatening situations.

But what is NG9-1-1 exactly, and what comes with it? Please see below a list of common set of questions and answers that we have seen from our stakeholders and community on what NG9-1-1

Next Generation 911 (NG911), is a new and improved way to receive and respond to 911 calls. Emergency callers traditionally dial 911 from a landline or a mobile device but with NG911, callers will have the ability to text, send pictures and videos from an incident and receive faster responses from accurate location data. NG911 is utilizing internet technologies to support these additional features, but upgrading from legacy copper wire to fiber is a costly and time-extensive task.

When an emergency call is made from a cell phone, landline, or any internet-connected device, a network of internet services routes the call to the appropriate first responders. This network is called an ESInet.

An ESInet manages the delivery of location data, data security, and call and data routing to the appropriate 911 center and emergency services. When an ESInet efficiently communicates with local GIS data, it ensures that calls are reliably routed to the appropriate personnel.

Once located and received, a computer-aided dispatch (CAD) system prioritizes and records emergency calls, locates existing responders in the field, and dispatches the appropriate responders to an incident. The closest first responders are notified in near real-time with various data to provide detailed situational awareness of the incident. This data may include images and video from the scene, building plans, or other critical data to support the event. 

NG911 fills the voids that legacy analog systems could never support. NG911 is about location accuracy and getting to an incident or a caller quicker than ever before. NG911 supports the following:

  • Geospatial routing: NG911 uses advanced technology to accurately route emergency calls to the nearest Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP) based on the caller's location. This can help ensure that emergency calls are answered quickly and by the right people.
  • Improved layers of redundancy: NG911 systems are designed to include multiple layers of redundancy, such as MPLS, broadband, and 5G LTE. This means that even if one type of connection goes down, there will be backup options to keep the system running.
  • Policy routing: NG911 systems include policy routing capabilities that allow PSAPs to automatically failover to other locations in the event of a disaster recovery scenario. This helps to ensure that emergency calls can be answered even in extreme situations.
  • Text, picture, and video: NG911 systems can accept various multimedia messages, including text, pictures, and video. This can provide more detailed information to the PSAP, which can help them respond more effectively.
  • Interoperability: NG911 systems are built to be interoperable, meaning they can communicate and share information with other emergency services organizations. This can improve coordination and response times during emergencies.
  • Real-time data and analytics: NG911 systems can provide real-time data and analytics on emergency calls, including caller location, emergency type, and response times. This can help emergency service organizations improve their response times and make more informed decisions.
  • Advanced technologies: NG911 systems can include cutting-edge technologies like artificial intelligence and machine learning, which can help emergency service organizations respond more effectively to different emergencies. This can help identify patterns, predict emergency calls, and provide quicker and more accurate responses.
  • Improved accessibility: NG911 systems can include enhanced accessibility features, such as text-to-speech, speech-to-text, and translation services. This can help ensure that emergency services are accessible to all individuals, including those with hearing or speech impairments, limited English proficiency, or disabilities.
  • Remote Call-taking: NG911 systems allow for remote call-taking, enabling public safety answering points (PSAPs) to receive and process calls from remote locations, such as home or virtual offices. This allows for better flexibility and continuity of service during a crisis or natural disaster.
  • Cybersecurity measures: NG911 systems include advanced cybersecurity measures to protect against cyber-attacks and ensure the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of emergency communications. These measures include encryption, firewalls, intrusion detection and prevention, and regular security assessments.
  • Automatic Call Distribution (ACD) : NG911 systems include Automatic Call Distribution (ACD) which helps to distribute the incoming calls to the available PSAPs automatically, this feature is designed to improve the handling of high volume calls, and ensure the call is answered in a timely manne

The National Emergency Number Association (NENA) sets the standards that encompass the entire framework for the NG911 umbrella. These standards include GIS and attribute data and the network and system components that make up NG911.

Call Handling as a Service (CHaaS) is a model for providing 9-1-1 services that rely on cloud-based technology and infrastructure rather than on-premise hardware and software. In a CHaaS model, 9-1-1 calls are routed to a cloud-based call center, which is answered and processed by trained 9-1-1 operators. CHaaS is often seen as an alternative to traditional on-premise infrastructure, which can be more expensive and complex to maintain.

One advantage of CHaaS is that it can be more scalable and flexible than on-premise infrastructure. Because the call center is cloud-based, it can be easily expanded or contracted to meet changing demand and can be accessed from anywhere with an internet connection. CHaaS can also be more reliable and secure than on-premise systems, as it is typically supported by multiple redundant servers and is managed by experienced professionals. ChaaS can often be implemented more quickly and with fewer upfront costs than on-premise systems, making it an attractive option for organizations looking to modernize their 9-1-1 services.

NG9-1-1, Next Generation 9-1-1, refers to a modernized, internet-based version of the 9-1-1 system. It is designed to be more flexible, efficient, and reliable than traditional 9-1-1 systems. It can support a wide range of advanced features such as text, photo, and video messaging and location tracking.

To ensure the reliability of the NG9-1-1 system, it is often designed with multiple levels of redundancy, which means that it has multiple backup systems in place in case one or more of the primary systems fail. The three main redundancy levels for NG9-1-1 are:

  • MPLS (Multiprotocol Label Switching): This networking technology is used to transmit data across a network of interconnected devices. MPLS is often used as a primary means of transmitting 9-1-1 calls in NG9-1-1 systems, as it is fast and reliable. Broadband: This refers to high-speed internet connectivity that is provided through a variety of technologies such as cable, DSL, or fiber.
  • Broadband can be a secondary means of transmitting 9-1-1 calls in NG9-1-1 systems in case the primary MPLS connection fails.
  • 5G LTE (Long-Term Evolution) through FirstNet: This wireless networking technology provides fast, high-capacity connectivity. FirstNet is a dedicated communications network for first responders and public safety agencies. It can be a tertiary means of transmitting 9-1-1 calls in NG9-1-1 systems if the primary MPLS and secondary broadband connections fail.

Using multiple redundancy levels, NG9-1-1 systems can ensure that 9-1-1 calls can always get through, even if one or more of the primary systems fail. This helps to ensure that the 9-1-1 system is always available and reliable, which is critical in emergencies.

Geographic Information System (GIS) technology is essential in Next Generation 9-1-1 (NG9-1-1) because it helps to accurately locate and route emergency calls to the appropriate public safety answering point (PSAP). A traditional 9-1-1 system uses Automatic Location Information (ALI) and the Master Street Address Guide (MSAG).

ALI is a database that contains information about the location of every telephone number in a given area. When a 9-1-1 call is made, the ALI database determines the caller's location so the call can be routed to the appropriate PSAP.

The MSAG database contains information about a given area's street addresses and geographic boundaries. It is used to determine a particular PSAP's jurisdiction and ensure that 9-1-1 calls are routed to the correct PSAP.

In NG9-1-1, GIS technology is used to supplement and enhance the capabilities of ALI and MSAG. GIS can provide more detailed and accurate location information, including the caller's precise latitude and longitude and information about the surrounding environment.

GIS can also enhance the routing of 9-1-1 calls in NG9-1-1 systems. By integrating GIS data with routing protocols, NG9-1-1 systems can more accurately route calls to the appropriate PSAP based on the caller's location and the surrounding environment.

Overall, the integration of GIS technology in NG9-1-1 systems helps to improve the accuracy and efficiency of the 9-1-1 system, ensuring that emergency calls are routed to the correct PSAP as quickly as possible.