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NENA 2016 - Annual Conference - What is new in the 9-1-1 area?

Who is NENA?

NENA (National Emergency Number Association) is a professional non-profit organization solely focused on 9-1-1 policy, technology, operations and policy. In addition to being an advocacy organization, NENA provides key guidance for technology deployments and certifications for professionals.

I had the pleasure of attending the annual Conference and Expo which was held in Indianapolis earlier this month. As its name implies, there were conference workshops, presentations and an industry tradeshow featuring a variety of businesses involved with the deployment and management of 9-1-1 centers.

Next Generation 9-1-1

Next Generation 9-1-1 (NG9-1-1) is the next key technological and social evolution of emergency services over the upcoming years. In a nutshell, NG9-1-1 overlays the 9-1-1 services on Omni-channel contact center technology. This allows Public Safety Access Points (PSAP) to leverage IP technology for locating and communicating with the public during emergency situation and the ability to pass along critical information to emergency responders via voice, text or video.

At the present time, 70% of calls to 9-1-1 come from wireless phones with no street address attached to the number. In addition, VoIP is becoming a bigger issue now that low cost, good quality services are available that can use a phone number from anywhere in the world. NG9-1-1 is designed to use a variety of databases and geospatial applications to locate callers rather relying on the telephone number to provide location information.

9-1-1 Jargon - E9-1-1, NG9-1-1 - what are the differences and why should we care?

Just to be perfectly clear, this is not E9-1-1. E9-1-1 was good technology for 1984, but it is losing relevance in this millennium. Although improving E9-1-1 to provide triangulation or GPS locations for cellular services was a good interim measure, the IP world has completely changed the paradigm in which 9-1-1 services are provided

There has been a lot of hype about “Text to 911”. This is a step in right direction but does not constitute NG9-1-1. Earlier this month, at the Orlando Avaya International Users Group, I described NG9-1-1 as a three legged stool with IP-enabled answering points and IP-enabled devices making the calls connected over IP-enabled carrier networks.

During the conference, I attended and focused my attention on workshops and presentations that dealt with the policies, processes and technologies associated with the deployment of NG9-1-1 in Canada and throughout North America.

I had the opportunity to meet NG9-1-1 project managers and directors as well as to review the status and designs for the planned migration NG9-1-1 projects in Northern Illinois, Indiana, Massachusetts and North Carolina.

Although these forward thinking administrations are making significant progress in NG9-1-1 deployments, none of them are fully deployed (as yet). In most cases, the missing link is the carrier IP connectivity and successful integration to internal GIS, RMS and CMS responder applications.

What does this mean for Canada?

The CRTC has begun hearings into NG9-1-1 ( ) to provide the regulatory framework for the deployment of NG9-1-1 in Canada.

The lessons I learned from attending interactive conferences like NENA 2016, can be leveraged to help Canadian telecom industry, CRTC and emergency responders move forward with the deployment of NG9-1-1.

Of interest, I met three members of the CRTC at the conference, often in the same information sessions as I attended. Having the CRTC in attendance is a clear indication that this conference will have some influence on the outcome of the upcoming Canadian CRTC activities.

What are the next steps?

As various communities begin to upgrade their PSAP’s (Public Safety Answering Points) due to older technologies approaching end of support, the PSAP design and acquisition process should be included as a pathway to transition to NG9-1-1 I over the next couple of years.

The NG9-1-1 deployment process should not just be a “long term plan”. It should be in process, and on the agenda at all PSAP planning meetings with communities gaining support for the required investments.

What will FOX professionals be doing in 9-1-1?

FOX Leader, Roberta Fox is personally taking an advocacy role in the future of NG9-1-1 and is in the process of registering as an intervenor on behalf of deploying NG9-1-1. She will be working with municipal and public safety organizations to try to corral them to provide input and feedback from their unique customer/public perspectives.

As the FOX 9-1-1 Practice Leader, I will be providing Roberta with 9-1-1 expert technology support from a carrier and 9-1-1 operations view for her input in the CRTC hearings.

From a technology design/advisory perspective, with my ENP (Emergency Number Professional) examination and designation pending later in July, I look forward to assisting public safety communities of how to design and acquire appropriate technology solutions during the transition process to NG9-1-1.

Please feel free to reach out me to discuss further, or visit our new 9-1-1 website at

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