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GCN : August 2013
CLOUD TECH PUBLIC SAFETY SYSTEMS Intrado began about two years ago upgrading the analog long-distance tele- phone technology that has been used since the 1960s for routing 911 calls, re- placing it with high-performance MPLS networking and IP-based routing hosted in redundant data centers on the East Coast and the central United States. "We don't have fiber in the ground," Lee said. "We have wholesale agreements with major carriers for MPLS service. What we provide is the intelligence in the system to know where to route the calls, how to transfer them and maintain the quality." The network is built on the National Emergency Numbers Association's i3 standard for end-to-end IP connectivity between originating carrier networks and PSAPs. Service providers using the stan- dard form an interoperable Emergency Services IP Network that can link public safety agencies. The two Intrado data cen- ters are both active and each routes calls to the proper PSAP as needed. Because both centers are active there is no need for failover if one should go down. "The experience at the PSAP is com- pletely unchanged" with a cloud service, Lee said. "The networks have gotten ro- bust enough that we are delivering the service you used to get by having it loaded on a desktop or server in the back room." PSAPs using the cloud service are served by dual MPLS connections from different sources, each capable of handling 100 percent of the needed capacity to pre- vent outages from local disruptions. Lee said that none of the Intrado network's customers on the East Coast suffered 911 outages during last year's Super Storm Sandy. "This should reduce vulnerability to outages," Soukup said. "In the cloud ev- erything can be rerouted." By using a cloud service for 911 servic- es, jurisdictions avoid the capital outlay of a hardware upgrade and can replace some phone services. "It's more efficient for government to use a service like this," Lee said. Durham is expected to save about $200,000 a year in surcharge funds. But that does not mean that 911-as- a-service is cheap. A jurisdiction still has to pay for the service and for redun- dant Internet connections with enough bandwidth to handle traffic. "Rarely is it cheaper," Lee said. Sometimes it is com- parable and often it is more expensive. But the reliability and promise of new functionality and the opportunity for do- ing away with hardware made the move attractive to Durham, Soukup said. PSAPs around the country won't necessarily be rushing to adopt the service, however. It all depends on the funding mecha- nism," he said. "We have a 60-cent sur- charge on all phones in the state. This was entirely funded from the 60 cents received on every telephone bill," and the city and county did not have to go for a general fund tax increase. • 24 GCN AUGUST 2013 • GCN.COM 18% SPONSORED BY: Trends & Technologies Driving Public Sector Mobility RESEARCH REPORT gencies re in c utious bout D Mobility de nds diligence on security Mobility e nds or d y bound ries o dic e loyees c it li e on obile tech Don t let obile s be e lin To ics nclude VISIT: GCN.COM/2013MobilityTrends