For decades, public safety has suffered from a siloed approach to implementing communications networks, one that has made interoperable communications an extremely challenging, costly and time-consuming endeavor, and in some cases, a proverbial “mission impossible.” An opportunity exists to flip the script, one that MCP will explore in depth in a new live webinar scheduled to be held on October 31 at 2:00 p.m. Eastern/11 a.m. Pacific.
I will be joined by colleagues Nick Falgiatore, MCP senior technology specialist, and Bonnie Maney, MCP enterprise client manager, during this webinar to explore why interoperability between Next Generation 911 (NG911) systems and public safety broadband networks—such as the nationwide public safety broadband network (NPSBN) being implemented by the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) and its commercial partner AT&T—is so critically important.
The answer to the question of “why” actually is quite simple: if NG911 systems and the NPSBN are interoperable, then seamless, real-time, two-way data flow will occur between emergency responders in the field and emergency communications centers (ECCs). “Two-way” is the key term in the previous sentence. ECCs will be able to push out rich data gathered from a wide variety of sources—e.g., citizens, sensors, databases, archives, Internet of Things (IoT) devices (think wearable health monitors)—that will enhance situational awareness. In turn, emergency responders can alert the ECCs to things that they are seeing and experiencing that will help incident commanders make better-informed decisions and alter response strategies in the moment.
The enhanced situational awareness, which will continuously evolve over the course of the incident due to the two-way data flow, will help emergency responders perform better and keep them safer. The end result is something that everyone in public safety should embrace: more lives and property saved.
Is another reason needed to ensure that NG911 systems and the NPSBN are well-integrated within ECCs?
Technology has evolved to the point where, for any major incident, many types of systems and devices will generate an enormous amount of data that can be leveraged to enhance situational awareness. The following is just one hypothetical example of how an emergency incident might unfold if NG911 systems and the NPSBN are well-integrated within ECCs.
- A bank robbery is in progress, which causes the bank’s alarm system to trip, which in turn triggers real-time surveillance streams from the bank’s and the city’s fixed camera systems to flow into the ECC. Meanwhile, multiple patrons send 911 texts to the ECC—several include images and video with visuals of the perpetrators. This data flows over an emergency services Internet Protocol network (ESInet)—which is the transport component of NG911 systems—into the ECC.
- An automatic license plate reader system receives a hit on a stolen car parked outside the bank and is relayed to the ECC. A gunshot-alerting system informs the ECC that shots have been fired inside the bank. A drone hovers over the bank and live streams its video; at the same time, video and audio from vehicular and body-worn cameras is transmitted. All of this data travels into the ECC via the NPSBN.
- Rich data received by the ECC is triaged using artificial intelligence (AI) and data analytics solutions to determine what is most relevant to emergency responders at the incident scene, or en route.
- Video triaged via data analytics is pushed out to law enforcement within a geofenced area surrounding the bank’s location. Facial-recognition software identifies the suspects and criminal justice databases are queried to gain insights into their criminal history. Meanwhile, texts from the public are triaged using AI. Relevant data is pushed to emergency responders, including automatic license plate reader (ALPR) systems and gun-shot location information. All of this data flows to the field over the NPSBN.
Again, the key takeaway from this hypothetical scenario is the two-way flow of actionable data that will exponentially enhance situational awareness, but which will not occur if NG911 systems and the NPSBN are not well-integrated within the ECC.
The upcoming webinar will do a deeper dive into the new types of data that will be possible when NG911 systems and the NPSBN are ubiquitous, and what has to happen to leverage them. Participants also will gain insights into the operational impact on ECCs— and the citizens and emergency responders they serve—as a result of this new communications environment.
We urge you to set aside time for this webinar. NG911 and the NPSBN working in concert represent a quantum leap forward for emergency communications—but their potential won’t be fully realized unless they are well-integrated within the ECC.