Next Generation 911

Despite the advances of E911, Next Generation 911 (NG911) is being created in the anticipation that it will transform what is already an outdated public safety system into a digital network that is faster, more efficient, more cost-effective, and safer for the public as well as law enforcement (Pirie, 2019). NG911 is expected to increase the amount of data and evidence available to authorities, with information about perpetrators, crime scenes, and accidents available before police and emergency personnel even arrive on the scene. Additionally, the NG911 system will make it easier for the public to communicate with call centers, and it will help Public Safety Answering Points (PSAPs) from being overwhelmed with potentially hundreds of calls as it is also gathering as much information as possible in a short amount of time. According to Eddie Reyes, the deputy chief of the Alexandria Police Department in Alexandria, Virginia, NG911 is not a system that is needed 20 years in the future; it is needed here and now (Reyes, 2013).There is still much work to do regarding the new updated 911 system, which makes it extremely important for law enforcement to become familiar with the new system as soon as possible (Reyes, 2013; Pirie, 2019).

The overall goals of NG911 include having a new process that makes reaching 911 dispatchers easier for all people, especially those with disabilities. NG911 will help those with disabilities because it will include applications, such as text-to-911 (TT911), which will give those who are deaf, hard of hearing, and speech disabled, the ability to directly access emergency services through traditional means. The implementation of text-to-911 is an important step toward increasing direct access to 911 for many people with disabilities (Chance et al., 2015).

Another goal is to create new applications that will make it safer for people who are in extremely dangerous situations, such as hostages or people involved in an active shooter incident—in other words, when placing a typical cell phone call may not be feasible or safe. Since major carriers are required to send text messages to PSAPs, the next step is for PSAPs to begin accepting these texts. There are three different ways for PSAPs to receive text messages: First, texts can be received through an Internet browser, which is the most affordable option for PSAPs. Second, they can be received through a Direct IP system. This method is very expensive, and it requires a NG911 network or a dedicated IP circuit to the 911 text gateway. Lastly, PSAPs could receive texts as a call. The current federal regulatory scheme does not require PSAPs to make upgrades; however, the need for NG911 is the subject of discussion by the Federal Communications Commission (Pirie, 2019).

It is also expected that NG911 will have the ability to receive photographs, videos, and telematics in 911 emergency call centers. Currently, there is no integrated system for delivering data, such as evidence that might be sent into NG911, to emergency responders (Holmberg, Raymond, and Averill, 2013). Having remote access to this data would provide greatly improved situational awareness, which will ultimately reduce response times as well as reducing the time needed by emergency responders to size up situations (Holmberg et al., 2013). This technology may well act as a deterrent to offenders, as it will provide law enforcement with more and better information about perpetrators (Reyes, 2013).

However, in order to achieve the implementation of NG911, states need more emergency system funding (Pirie, 2019). Therefore, states must collect and acquire more 911 funding to implement NG911 services on an IP-enabled communications network (Holloway, Seeman, and Kleckley, 2014). Federal policy-makers will also need to share regulatory power by permitting state legislatures and regulators to collect 911 funds.The federal need to share power with the states must be weighed in deciding whether Congress should continue the current federal-state 911 funding agreement or impose more forceful mandates on a NG911 funding agreement (Holloway et al., 2014). States will need to mandate state legislative, agency administrative, and local operational levels to conduct NG911 planning and coordination consistent with their functions, decisions, and relationships within the state NG911 system. Thus, states will need comprehensive planning to implement NG911 and the IP-enabled network policies needed (Holloway, Seeman, and O’Hara, 2010).

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is a crucial part of the 911 systems; however, the agency only has authority over certain aspects of the emergency systems (Chance et al.,2015).The FCC has authority over wireless carriers, and it can mandate that these carriers deliver text messages sent by their customers. The wireless carriers that are in agreement with the aforementioned mandate include AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, andT-Mobile (Chance et al., 2015). Additionally, the Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2010 (CVAA) gives the FCC authority to promote regulations, standards, and procedures that enable reliable communication. The FCC ensures access by individuals with disabilities to an IP-based emergency network (Chance et al., 2015). New policies are needed in order to make the transition from E911 to NG911 and the switch to an IP-based network to ensure an IP-based 911 service (Sarfo, 2015).

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