Changing communications pathways lead to 9-1-1 revolution

NG9-1-1 solutions set to save centrals time and money
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Wednesday, September 15, 2010

HOUSTON—NICE is touting a suite of IP offerings it says represent a “disruptive” change to the way emergency communications are handled.

The software manufacturer has come forward with solutions designed to take advantage of IP technology and the ongoing migration away from legacy communications pathways like the public switched telephone network (PSTN). Further, NICE says their solutions will make communications between a call originator—like a central station—and the PSAP (the 911 center that receives the call) more efficient and time- and cost-effective. NICE and other manufacturers are calling this trend  “Next Generation 9-1-1.”

The NG9-1-1 initiative “supports telephony, but will also support new methods of communications, including text messaging and video calls,” said NICE VP of engineering John Rennie. “The aim is to provide an easy way of getting data of many forms into the 9-1-1 center.”

Important improvements in NICE’s IP suite: The Situator solution, the Inform solution, and the Vision solution. Situator is for situation management and enables a single GUI through which operators respond to alerts and events, reducing training and increasing efficiency. Vision is for video management and Inform pulls together the events and media like voice, video, and photos, associated with an incident so managers can review what happened. In public safety, Rennie said Inform is also used for providing an audit trail of recordings and related information for use in the courts and by investigators.

“There’s so much more communications coming in these days than just the traditional voice, [which] has traditionally been the only way of contacting public safety,” Rennie said. “When you look at the number of texts sent today, it’s in the billions, daily. People use this to communicate, but you can’t call for help through text … this is truly disruptive. It’s replacing PSTN’s very fixed, very rigid equipment with an IP-based infrastructure that can be flexibly deployed, expanded, contracted or moved from one location to another. It’s a revolutionary change in the way 9-1-1 access is handled.”