During the Mobile VoIP sessions at CTIA, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration contractor project coordinator Jenny Hansen described her take on the U.S. Department of Transportation's Next Generation 9-1-1 Initiative.
Currently under study and due for final enactment in 2008, the Initiative will seek to solve several pressing issues. Hansen provided an overview of some of the problems the Initiative is to address.
"Many of the PSAPs in urban America are on the bleeding edge high end, whereas in rural, ‘frontier America,’ there’s a lot of dirt between the light bulbs," Hansen said. "There are fewer resources and people, so you have a case of the have’s and have nots."
"Voice 911 call delivery issues are problematic from carrier to carrier, and provider to provider," she added. "There are database issues, across the several carriers needed to maintain these technologies? Where are the standards and where are the options?"
Hansen identified four key limitations in today's 9-1-1 calling infrastructure that need to be addressed:
Today's 9-1-1 is configured primarily for voice calls via telephones. Future 9-1-1 needs to be coordinated for handling of voice, text and video from several types of communications devices.
Today's 9-1-1 has limited data capabilities, with Public Safety Answering Points normally able to receive dispatch details with a maximum of 500 text characters. Future 9-1-1 needs to lose this limitation, while supporting additional content forms such as, for example, video of an accident scene from which 9-1-1 assistance is being requested.
Today's 9-1-1 has inter-carrier and inter-agency access and transfer obstacles. Hansen noted that "stovepiping"- the inability for emergency responders to communicate with each other, is still common, and needs to be solved.
Today's 9-1-1 has limited capacity for emergency notification. Hansen detailed a Future 9-1-1 infrastructure in which location-specific emergency alerts could be delivered to any networked device.
"Defining the future, we see a system of systems," Hansen added.