Last fall I touched on the Public Safety Imperative and its role in advancing in-building wireless communications. Much of what we talked about was based on a Building Wireless and Public-Safety Imperative report from SOLiD and Hutton Communications that looks at the necessity to ensure uninterrupted indoor (as well as outdoor) communications for emergency workers.
New report from National 911 Program
More recent news on the 911 front is the release of the 2015 National 911 Progress Report from the National 911 Program that addresses the issue in the way of next generation 911 (NG9-1-1) networks.
According to the report, 76% of all 911 calls in 2014 came from cell phones – a 6% increase over 2013. Of the 42 states surveyed, 19 had adopted a statewide NG9-1-1 plan, but only 11 reported statewide installations and testing. The upshot is only 14% of reporting states in 2014 were fully operational, while another 19% are “in progress”. But there is more movement afoot.
If you’re not familiar with the term, NG9-1-1 is an IP-based system that allows digital information to flow seamlessly from the public through the 911 network and on to emergency responders. (learn more about Information standards). The intent of NG9-1-1 is to replace traditional circuit switched 911 networks that carry only voice and limited data, to networks that can support text for emergencies, images and video, telematics data, building plans and medical information.
Getting a standardized 911 system in place that can reach all forms of emergency response entities is no small feat. Carriers are doing their part to support the cause. AT&T for example has launched a new offering to help 9-1-1 agencies upgrade their old emergency networks to IP technology with a service called ESInet that is expected in the second half of 2016.
One other item of note: as NG9-1-1 progresses it will require, among other things, that products be wholly NG9-1-1 compliant.