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GCN : August 2013
CLOUD TECH PUBLIC SAFETY SYSTEMS GCN AUGUST 2013 • GCN.COM 23 The infrastructure to enable these ser- vices is being adopted by a growing num- ber of jurisdictions, said Michael Lee, vice president of sales for Intrado, which pro- vides geographic location technology, net- working and other services. The company also offers links between carriers and more than 6,000 North American PSAPs, and its ESInet supports cloud-based routing and full call delivery services. "Everything has been digitized," Lee said. "We've moved past the early adopter stage" on IP-enabled 911 services. The states of Hawaii, Minnesota, Wash- ington and Vermont, as well as jurisdic- tions in North Carolina, Virginia, Penn- sylvania, Florida, Texas, Ohio, California, Utah and Nevada use Intrado's network and cloud-based routing for 911. Vermont and the Reno metro area in Nevada as well as Durham have moved all of their 911 op- erations to the Intrado cloud. Having the infrastructure for NG911 does not mean having the service, how- ever. "We just have the media for when the carriers are ready," Soukup said. How soon carriers will be ready to offer broader IP-to-911 services is any- one's guess. Text-to-911 still is in its early stages and Verizon Wireless currently is one of only a few carriers offering it. In addition to Durham, it is being used by two communities in New York, in Freder- ick County, Md., and in York County, Va. The four major carriers, Sprint Nextel, AT&T and T-Mobile as well as Verizon, have committed to providing text-to-911 service to PSAPs that request it by May 2014. But although they are considering options for delivering other types of data over IP, such as images and video, spokes- men say there now are no concrete plans for testing or implementation. Durham operates a consolidated PSAP for both the city and county and handles about 1,000 911 calls a day. It began its move to NG911 in 2011 when it was cho- sen by Verizon Wireless to trial 911 tex- ting. The carrier delivers the text messages to the PSAP via Intrado. "We put it in," Soukup said, adding that it "was a simple process" for the PSAP. Op- erators already were familiar with using TDD (telecommunications device for the deaf) messaging. "It's the same thing, so there was very little training involved." Despite the growing use of mobile phones for emergency calls and the com- mon wisdom that young people would rather text than talk, 911 text usage has been very low in Durham. "In almost two years we've gotten three texts, and none was a real emergency," Soukup said. Tex- ting has its place, but it takes longer than a voice call and nobody is going to text for a heart attack, he said. About the same time it began the text- to-911 trial, Durham decided to move its entire 911 service to the Intrado cloud. This not only reduced the amount of equip- ment to be maintained onsite by the PSAP, but it allows the center to take advantage of future service offerings without having to do additional hardware or software up- grades. "We would be ready today" for any services the carriers offer, Soukup said. VERIZON'S TEXT-TO-911 CAVEATS Verizon Wireless, one of the first carriers to o er text-to-911 in select locations, o ers the following caveats for using text in an emergency: • Use texting only when making a voice call to 911 is not an option. • Using a phone to call 911 is still the most e cient way to reach emergency help. Texting is not always instantaneous and it probably will take longer to dispatch emergency services. • Providing location information and nature of the emergency in the first text message is imperative, since the answering point will receive only an approximate location of the cell phone. • Text abbreviations or slang should never be used so that the meaning of the message can be as clear as possible. • Customers must be in range of their carrier s cell towers, as text-to-911 might not be available while roaming. • Texts sent to 911 have the same 160-character limit as other text messages. • Verizon Wireless customers who use Usage Controls should remove this feature to ensure full text-to-911 capability. • Text-to-911 might not be available immediately with all wireless carriers, and not all PSAPs will be able to receive the texts. • Texting should be used only for emergency situations requiring an immediate response. • Text-to-911 does not support pictures, video or other attachments.