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What is going on with NG911? A quick update for 911 supervisors


Ergonomic control console ready for NG911 in showroom

What is NG911?

Next Generation 911 is the system set to replace the current traditional 911 infrastructure. To keep up with the needs of our increasingly digital society, NG911 will update the communication capabilities of public safety services.


NG911 for telecommunications from 911.gov
NG911 Guide for Telecommunicators from 911.gov

This means faster response times, precise location data and multimedia-sharing capabilities. The traditional system can be understood as "analogue" while the new generation of 911 uses internet protocol technology to enable emergency services to receive and transmit information. In other words, if a 911 caller has a smartphone, they can send images, videos, GPS location, voice texts and any other available data, helping emergency services better understand the situation and respond appropriately and efficiently. 

  

The goal of the transition is to ensure everyone in the country has access to the same level of public safety services, regardless of their location.

  

How is it being implemented today? What is still pending? 

The transition to the new technologies in the US is being spearheaded by NENA (the National Emergency Number Association) through a mandate to all public safety answering points (PSAPs) in the US to upgrade their networks so that they are NG911 ready. Meanwhile in Canada the transition to NG911 falls under the jurisdiction of the CRTC (Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission). 


High-level abstract view of a jurisdictional NG911 environment.
High-level abstract view of a jurisdictional NG911 environment.

The earliest efforts to build and test these types of networks go back to 2006 in the US. But today's initiative started around 2019 with telephone and cell service companies expanding and updating their networks from analog and digital. Even though the modernization is still ongoing anyone can access 911 services, but in jurisdictions where the changes have taken place already, callers can expect safer, faster and more informed emergency responses. 

  

The switch to NG911 will occur gradually in the coming years and soon new services will become available such as real-time text messaging services. 

  

How can key players adapt? 

Upgrading to NG911 inevitably comes with costs. PSAPs should prepare a detailed budget that includes the upgrade's direct and indirect costs. One important consideration can be to implement a partnership with neighbouring 911 call centers to share costs for equipment, maintenance and support. 

  

Besides upgrading equipment and control consoles, it is expected that organizations will develop training programs that keep the staff up-to date with new equipment and software.



It is also crucial to take steps outside the control room. For example, it is highly recommended to inform the public of current technological advancements, standardized terminology and the process for reporting an emergency. 

  

PSAPs should ensure their network, data and equipment are secure. This includes implementing firewalls, encryption, and other security measures. As well as keeping their IT equipment physically secured and locked inside the CPU enclosures of control consoles.  


NG911 ready control consoles with secure CPU enclosure

Designing a NG911-ready dispatch console. 

As simple analogue systems are replaced by digital and more complex systems, it doesn't matter if your center relies on fibre optic cables or on satellite coverage. Regardless of which connection method is chosen, it will involve having more IT equipment as redundancies are necessary to ensure emergency services can provide fast and reliable services. 


NG911 ready control consoles with secure CPU enclosure and electrical raceway

Ergonomic considerations cannot be excluded, meaning that height adjustability, and clutter free workspaces remain critical components. Specially if operators will have to deal with an increased amount of data and information sources. Focal adjustment and sturdy monitor arms to support the ever-increasing flow of information is also critical. 

  

Since the transition to NG911 involves costs, both known and unknown, ensuring that your control consoles can last for a very long time is crucial. Making sure they are heavy duty enough to look and feel as brand new even years down the line is very important. 


Some centers may be limited in space and require control consoles that maximize the available room with a small footprint, and by implementing smart cable management systems like wall systems and electrical raceways. 


NG911 ready control consoles with secure CPU enclosure and dual work surface

We can help you design and build a 911 dispatch center that is NG911-ready.

  

While the technology evolves and 911 dispatchers adapt to the changes in their field, we remain committed to offer state of the art solutions that adapt to the needs of our clients. Our consoles are heavy duty, ergonomic and can handle the extraordinary IT equipment PSAP centers need to become NG911-ready. Contact our team of specialists to start the conversation. 

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