When I took over this project in 2013, one feature that appealed to me was geospatial routing. Instead of wireless 9-1-1 calls being routed to a PSAP based on the cell tower/sector database, it would now be routed to the correct PSAP based on the location of the caller. (You NG9-1-1 technical types out there- you know the acronyms and flow)
We have hundreds of cell towers and 18 PSAPs, so the idea of avoiding/reducing 9-1-1 transfers between PSAPs made tremendous sense.
There were plans to create a geofence around our main courthouse and the airport. Both of these facilities are located within the City of West Palm Beach, yet – as County facilities- are staffed by the County Sheriffs Office. Placing a geofence around these properties and routing 9-1-1 calls from within the geofence directly to the Sheriffs Office makes sense and, as we were told, easy to do.
Our GIS team attended training, reviewed the standards and went to work on preparing our data. A few months ago, after having the data professionally ‘vetted’, we felt that we were ready to move forward with location based- geospatial- routing.
Around this same time we were asked to look at the current routing of 9-1-1 calls FROM the Town of Palm Beach. Donald Trump has a ocean front home on the island (not far from our offices). The town is a 16 mile long, narrow, barrier island. There are only a few cell towers. As a result, a number of 9-1-1 calls that originate on the island are connected to cell tower sectors across the intracoastal waterway. They are routed first to a ‘mainland’ PSAP and then transferred back to the island.
The ideal scenario would be to route all 9-1-1 calls directly to the Town of Palm Beach PSAP. In this scenario, turning on geospatial routing made sense.
In our industry there is a lot of talk about implementing this feature. So- when we reached out to the wireless carriers to let them know we were ready- we were surprised at the response.
Today, wireless carriers in our area are not ready to transition away from the MSAG and cell sector routing. It appears to be a complex issue. A portion of the 9-1-1 fee is returned to the carriers for providing 9-1-1 services (including the MSAG), so moving away from this may take time.
I have been told that there are NG9-1-1 deployments out there that are doing geospatial routing. I do not mean holding the call and waiting for the ‘Phase 2’ data as the initial input..
If you are reading this and are truly doing geospatial, please comment below – I’d love to speak with your wireless provider. In the meantime there are options being discussed in certain working groups, led by the FCC.