Media Coverage

Testing 1,2,3…

Recently, the Federal Government released a committee report. This report included the recommendation that the Standard Occupational Classification (SOC), NOT be modified to change the classification of Public Safety Telecommunicator from “Office and Administrative Support” to critical public safety professional. This was in direct opposition to the recommendations from APCO, NENA and the Congressional NextGen 9-1-1  Caucus.

OPM

The hope was that the committee would agree to reclassify Telecommunicator as a “Protective Service Occupation”. This is the same category as firefighters, police officers (and life guards)

Brian Fontes, CEO of NENA – “The men and women of 9-1-1 do so much more than just answer the phone. They guide callers through life-saving procedures, provide advice on how to handle dangerous situations, and provide critical backup to field responders, all while under great stress and pressure.”

APCO President Brent Lee- ” I am extremely disappointed that the Policy Committee failed to address the inaccurate classification of Public Safety Telecommunicators in the SOC.”

It would appear that the Office of Management and Budget does not ‘hear’ the compelling story of the service  Call Takers and Dispatchers provide.

As I understand it, NENA and APCO will be meeting with both OMB and Congress in an effort to resolve this before the SOC classification is finalized in 2017.

One thought- The Washington, D.C. “Unified Command” PSAP is only a 16 minute drive from the Office of Personnel Management. I had the pleasure of meeting  Karima Holmes , the Director, last week. I am sure that she would be more that willing to give the OPM Committee Members a tour.

Would somebody please set this up?? (Directions provided above..)

Google Can Now Provide Wireless 9-1-1 Location Information with its Android Operating System.

Google

First-  It is important to remember that there can be three distinct issues involving wireless 9-1-1 calls :  

  1. Call Routing  (Having the 9-1-1 call routed to the correct PSAP)

  2. Enhanced Location Information (Phase II) Challenge

  3. Indoor Location Information Challenge

With this recent Google announcement, we are only dealing with items number 2 and 3 above. The Google announcement does not address item 1- Call Routing.

Also, Googles’ mobile operating system, Android, commands approximately 80% of the market globally and almost 60% of the market in the United States.

And now:

Andriod111
Google has announced an Android feature that can  provide accurate location information for wireless 9-1-1  callers.  It is currently available in the UK and Estonia.

Google Europe Blog Post

Per Akshay Kannan, Google Product Manager “this uses the same location technologies available on your phone, including Wi-Fi, GPS, and cell towers, to produce a more reliable emergency location both indoors and outdoors.”

There is no app to install. Instead, Google will work with each wireless provider to allow the location information that Android calculates to be utilized by 9-1-1. An individual calling 9-1-1 would not need to have any knowledge of the technology or do anything special (e.g. search for their 9-1-1 app), they simply dial 9-1-1.

Google is reportedly in discussion with U.S. wireless providers.

So, without any technical details, Google has “put it out there” that they can assist the 9-1-1 community and the general population. Exactly how this technology works, or how the wireless carriers will utilize it, is not yet clear. We can guess, however, that this may be a major breakthrough that could immediately assist Calltakers by better identifying the location of the 9-1-1 caller.

We are all aware that last year the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) adopted new rules around 9-1-1 location accuracy. APCO Website on the the FCC Location Rules. Will the wireless carriers utilize this technology to quickly provide more accurate location data for 9-1-1 callers? Or possibly use it to augment other plans?

I am hopeful that more information will be provided in the near term.

Also, I hope our friends at Apple have a similar offering in the works. I turned down an offer to work on Tim Cook’s team back in 2004- I’m not sure he will take my call…

 
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NextGen 9-1-1 Inside the PSAP

If your career is INSIDE the Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP), one question might be “How will NG9-1-1 help us do our job?”

In speaking with Telecommunicators (those dedicated individuals that answer your 9-1-1 call), many identify the following to be important:

  • Reduce the number of transfers– in other words, have the network route wireless 9-1-1 calls to the correct PSAP the first time, eliminating the need for 9-1-1 Call Takers to transfer the call elsewhere. note: I’ve listened to a lot of 9-1-1 calls, it can literally freak people out to tell them that you cannot help them, that they are located in another jurisdiction and you will need to transfer the call. Recently, a mother whose child needed assistance called 9-1-1 and was told that her call needed to be transferred. She became extremely upset. Later, she went to a local TV station to complain. Dan Koenig, from my team, and I were interviewed for a segment to explain how the current system works. 

Today most wireless 9-1-1 calls are routed, not by the callers location, but by which cell tower and cell tower face (sector) their mobile phone is connected to..

In the example below, the 9-1-1 caller is connected to a cell tower and sector that is ‘programmed’ to send all 9-1-1 calls to Municipality A. This is simply a limitation of how the traditional 9-1-1 network functions today.

PSAP A will receive this 9-1-1 call.  Once they determine the 9-1-1 callers location, they will transfer the call to PSAP B.

Cell Sector

  • NextGen impact:

With Geospatial Routing, the location of the caller is determined first. This information is then passed on to the GIS mapping function, which should then route the caller to the correct PSAP. In the picture above, the NextGen system should route the 9-1-1 caller directly to PSAP B.

Update: Admiral David Simpson of the FCC (Bio Here) posted a comment on this blog, mentioning that there are numerous occasions, throughout the country, where the mapping capabilities of (in this scenario) PSAP A would not provide the location of the 9-1-1 caller, so the Call Taker would not know where to transfer the call to provide assistance.

It is important to note that the above example addresses only a single  aspect, routing the call to the correct PSAP. Next post, we will look at the Holy Grail of identifying the exact dispatchable address of the 9-1-1 caller…

………………..Call the Governor…………..

Here is the New Mexico Revenue chart.

 

 

Outbound Text from the PSAP

Indiana

 

This past week I attended the NENA 2016 Conference in Indianapolis, Indiana.

One of the information Breakout Sessions was entitled “New, Now, Wow”. Rob McMullen ENP, the 9-1-1 Director from Vigo County, Illinois, was a member of this panel. Rob informed the audience that Indiana has implemented Text-to-911 statewide, 92 counties, a major accomplishment.

Rob provided the following “Text”data for the past 6 months:

  • Statewide average-  1,400 inbound texts per month
  • The County that includes the City of Indianapolis averages 1,000 of these texts per month
  • The rest of the Counties average 20 texts per month

However, Telecommunicators (those amazing individuals who answer your 9-1-1 call) have started to use the outbound text feature to deal with both abandoned and, excuse the term, “butt dial” calls (averaging 16,000 calls per month statewide) placed to 9-1-1.

butt

The telecommunicators have found that many times by sending a text such as, ‘Did you mean to call 9-1-1?” they will  receive a response, whereas a phone call, in many instances, is not answered. People often do not want to speak with 9-1-1 and admit their error. Many times these calls will result in an unnecessary law enforcement dispatch for follow-up.

This feature is a major addition to Text-to-911 implementations.  It may become a feature that Telecommunicators request, facilitating further adoption of Text-to-9-1-1 across the Country.

 

John Oliver Highlights Location Issues

hans

By now, you may have seen the 9-1-1 segment from the HBO show “Last Week Tonight”.  If you have not seen the clip, here is the link- but please be aware that this is HBO and there is no censoring as far as language…    Last Week Tonight- 911

We normally only see 9-1-1 in the news when there is a specific problem with 9-1-1 technology (locating a 911 caller, 911 system failure, etc.).  John Oliver looked at 9-1-1 location issues on a national level  (calling out a few states in the process) and, in doing so, reached a much larger audience. The day after this segment aired, telco carriers and 9-1-1 staff nationwide were busy responding to inquiries from the media, as well as their own internal executive teams, in an attempt to clarify the issues.

Mark Fletcher explained the current situation in a recent NetworkWorld article

Network World- 911 Location Issues

Given the current environment surrounding location, one can understand why app developers are creating alternatives to ‘simply dialing 9-1-1’ by creating innovative (well..sometimes) Smartphone apps.

The U.S. is the world leader in technology. Maybe a trip to Silicon Valley is in order?