The Mission-Critical Resource Center

The Evolution of the Emergency Communications Ecosystem

In Summary:

  • Emergency communications centers are not much different from what they were when they first appeared on the scene a half century ago.

  • PSAPs need to jettison the legacy analog call-handling equipment that has existed for the last 50 years, and replace it with new equipment capable of processing calls and data that originates from digital devices.

  • The evolution of the emergency communications ecosystem will result in PSAPs and telecommunicators that will look and behave very differently than they do today. 


The public safety sector and emergency communications has reached an inflection point. Technology has evolved dramatically, and the needs and expectations of the public served by PSAPs have evolved as well. Data has overtaken voice in terms of importance. As a result, PSAPs need systems that are capable of leveraging the enormous amount of data is that already available, yet inaccessible today. Legacy call-handling equipment equipment that has existed for the last 50 years needs to be replaced with new equipment capable of processing calls and data originating from digital, Internet-Protocol (IP)-based devices.

This whitepaper explores the factors driving the need for PSAP evolution, and provides insights into how to accomplish it. Some of the driving factors of the emergency communications system’s evolution includes:

  • Roughly 70 percent of 911 calls are placed from digital, IP devices
  • Next Generation 911 (NG911), along with the nationwide public safety broadband network (NPSBN) being implemented by FirstNet will bring situational awareness and operational efficiency to new levels, especially if they are integrated
  • More than 10 billion sensors are in place today and are generating data today. These sensors generate a tremendous amount of data that would have a seismic impact on emergency response
  • Social media represents a tremendously effective, yet virtually untapped resource resource

To learn more about what’s required to evolve the emergency communications system, PSAPs and telecommunicators will need to look and behave very differently than they do today.

This whitepaper discusses what's required for PSAPs to evolve the emergency communications ecosystem, including:

  • Collaboration and regionalization
  • Holistic thinking about systems and applications
  • Staffing and training
  • Subject-matter expertise
  • Migration to IP-based systems
  • Integration of NG911 with public safety broadband networks
  • Other system upgrade