The 2018 NENA Conference may have been the best yet. Combine Nashville, thousands of emergency communications professionals sharing ideas and experiences, and more than ninety hours of breakout sessions and you have the framework for true movement in the industry.
And we did have movement.
iOS 12 will help save time and lives: By far the hottest topic was the national headline-generating announcement from Apple and RapidSOS. Apple’s new iOS 12 – launching later this year – will automatically and securely share its HELO location data via the RapidSOS NG911 Clearinghouse. HELO is Apple’s Hybridized Emergency Location application which estimates a mobile 911 caller’s location using cell towers and on-device data sources like GPS and WIFI Access Points.
The move opens up accurate location data for 911 callers who are among the 85 million iPhone users in the U.S. – nearly 43% of the total smartphone market. The step is a significant one and one that MCP believes will result in faster and more accurate information to help reduce emergency response times once available to PSAPs.
MCP is a certified independent data integrator for the free data available to PSAPs through the RapidSOS NG911 Clearinghouse as part of our Data Integration Program.
Text-to-911 is gaining momentum: Interest is at an all-time high for text-to-911 initiatives. While an estimated 75% of PSAPs are still unable to process text, NENA activity seemed to point at rapid changes for the better. Our own Sherri Griffith Powell and Dave Sehnert presented on the topic and showcased how text-to-911 plays a critical role in expanding access to timely emergency response. Their session dovetailed with the iOS 12 announcement in discussing the challenge of obtaining usable location data in the context of text-to-911 service. MCP is a leading voice in exploring the source of text location information, varying presentations of location, the rebid process, and how location will be impacted by the migration to real-time text.
Social media is changing 911: There are myriad examples of social media serving as a platform for crowd sourcing of emergency information and situational awareness.
MCP is working on a leading edge social media pilot program with the Charleston County Consolidated 911 Center in South Carolina to aid in its response efforts. The pilot includes collaborators from the Pennsylvania State University College of Information Sciences and Technology’s 3C Informatics research team, RapidSOS and Charleston County. The results will contribute to the advancement of MCP’s overarching Data Integration Program to turn data into simplified, actionable insights.The talk at NENA was how 911 could best harness this information to improve response.
Cybersecurity is not optional: It’s a new era for PSAPs. The smarter and more intelligent our technology gets, the more we become IP-based, the better our cloud usage gets, the bigger a target we all become. NENA 2018 had no less than four dedicated sessions on cybersecurity and a half-dozen more that touched on the subject. Clearly it is a mounting concern across the country.
As a part of MCP’s Lifecycle Management Services, we have responded to the need with cybersecurity planning, policies, audit logging, monitoring and more in the marketplace to prevent, mitigate and quickly recover from attacks. It is quickly becoming essential that PSAPs protect themselves and the citizens they serve by having robust cybersecurity in place.
The National 911 Program is in high gear: The conversation at NENA 2018 was brisk and insightful. There is a great groundswell of effort around national standards and interoperability. Version 3 of the i3 Standard was recently completed and is reported to be in the final stages of adoption. And there is considerable interest in the National 911 Program’s initiatives like the Interstate Playbook, as well as minimum training guidelines and certification for telecommunicators.
The reports are that several states are considering trialing interoperability functions such as voice and text transfers between dissimilar service providers. NENA sessions presented case studies for NG911 implementers, complete with successes, challenges and lessons learned.
NENA continues to be a premier event in our industry; one which MCP values highly for the education, information and professional dialogue. We heard a great deal of interest in development of facilities, the search for funding and grant availability, the support behind our Let’s Evolve 911 campaign and, of course, our collective 50th anniversary.
We'll touch on these points and more in blogs to come. In the meantime, share with us your thoughts and experiences from NENA 2018. Let us know what’s on your mind.