This year marks the 50th anniversary of the 911 nationwide emergency communication service. Although it has been an unquestionable success, the service is showing its age. It is built on outdated analog technologies that do not support mobile devices or multimedia communications.
Change is coming soon, however. The U.S. Department of Transportation is pressing a nationwide initiative to implement next-generation 911 (NG911) solutions that utilize digital technologies to extend the system’s reach. The idea is to enable additional types of emergency communications and data transfers by allowing 911 call centers, also known as public safety answering points (PSAPs), to handle wireless calls as well as text, video and pictures.
Avaya is parlaying its expertise with highly reliable and resilient IP-based contact center solutions into a leadership role in NG911 efforts. Together with key partners, the company earlier this year launched the first commercially available NG911 solution. Based on the Avaya Aura communication platform, it integrates a suite of computer-aided dispatch (CAD) and call-taking solutions from Beta 80 and an emergency-response management (ERM) product. The solution complies with NG911 standards developed by The National Emergency Number Association (NENA).
The ability to accommodate mobile and voice-over-IP communications is essential for the future efficiency of emergency communications. Legacy systems were built to accommodate landline telephones, but analysts say that as many as 80 percent of the 240 million 911 calls made in the U.S. each year come from mobile and wireless devices.
A key element of the original 911 system was the ability to automatically capture a caller’s identity and location to ensure rapid responses. However, these systems can only produce sketchy information when calls come in from cell phones. The dispatcher’s screen will display an approximate location based on cell tower location and GPS coordinates — but this data can be inaccurate, leading to slower response times. According to federal regulators, getting first responders to an emergency scene just 60 seconds earlier could save an estimated 10,000 lives a year.
Today’s PSAPs face other significant limitations. They can’t handle text, video and other dynamic forms of personal communication. They can’t easily share information with responders and other involved agencies. They typically can’t transfer calls to another PSAP during emergencies that produce high call volumes.
The Avaya solution addresses all of these challenges. The Aura suite of communication products is based on the Session Initiation Protocol (SIP), the signaling protocol that enables seamless multimedia communications in an IP network. These advanced SIP solutions easily integrate with automatic location information (ALI) controllers and the newest generation of geospatial-based location subsystems. Aura also provides secure call routing and handling to enable the streamlined and efficient delivery of emergency calls.
When integrated with partner dispatch and call-taking solutions, Aura allows PSAPs to seamlessly integrate voice, text, instant messaging, email and even social media into an efficient workflow. All of these forms of communication can also be linked to a specific event to provide responders with a more accurate assessment of an emergency situation. The system can even identify patterns of incoming calls to help public safety agencies make decisions about staffing and resource allocation.
Avaya is recognized as a global leader in contact center technology, providing many industries with the tools they need for reliable and resilient communications. These tools map almost exactly to the needs of today’s emergency call centers.