FirstNet Ready: Equipping Your PSAP
Updated: May 22, 2019
By Licia Wolf
Our evolving telecommunication systems are quickly becoming more integrated with various data inputs, which create large streams of information. For public safety, this can help increase effectiveness and improve response for 911 dispatch centers. However, there is currently no standard for setting up a system that utilizes all this data, and each PSAP must overcome this challenge case by case. In this blog we hope to provide a guideline that helps with strategic planning and budgeting to produce an effective system for today’s NG 9-1-1 PSAP.
With more data comes saving more lives. But in order to harness this data, local PSAPs must upgrade their systems to be able to:
Receive and transmit multi-media data (from LTE – phone, text, video, images, geo-location, social media, PSTN phone, VoIP, and Internet)
Capture and convert analog to digital data
Store larger amounts of data and metadata
Process and analyze large, diverse databases
Train call takers, dispatchers and supervisors how to utilize the systems
NG 9-1-1 Systems
NG 9-1-1 is an initiative to update the 9-1-1 service infrastructure in the United States and Canada to enable 9-1-1 centers to receive not only PTSN phone calls, but also data from mobile devices such as text, images, video and data to the PSAP. NENA has developed some standards and descriptions, but every 9-1-1 organization must configure and integrate these technologies into their own systems and with their ISP. It is essential that 9-1-1 centers employ NG 9-1-1 to function effectively going forward.
In the process of rolling out across the U.S., FirstNet is the first dedicated public safety broadband network for First Responders. This network enables law enforcement, fire, and emergency medical workers to communicate quickly and reliably through LTE, and uses targeted apps for transmission of various data such as geolocation, alerts to local CPR-trained citizens about nearby cardiac emergencies, optimizing and securing network traffic, and digital evidence management with collection that assists investigators in the field.
Incoming telecommunications need to be processed and handled accordingly. Call takers should receive clear information and have a set protocol how to handle each type of interaction. For example, if videos contain traumatic images, administrators may opt to redact these before viewing. A data analytics system can be useful to filter and route incoming data, as discussed here. Currently there is no standard application for public safety front-end filtering, but this could change in the future.
Once captured, data from incidences can be grouped together to allow more complete incident reconstruction later. Recording platforms such as HigherGround are essential for capture, retrieval, and reporting of these incidences.
PSAP System Changes
Each organization will plan an optimal system for its size and requirements. Many emergency dispatch centers are moving applications and storage into hosted services (the cloud) to save space and IT costs. These options are discussed in our blog on Virtualization.
This diagram illustrates the basic structure of data flow through PSAPs and an example of a state-of-the-art system.
(Click image to enlarge)
With new technologies come new functions. Data originating from new sources require additional protocols. A few types of data that must be incorporated into PSAP operations through LTE and internet are:
Location Services - Advanced Mobile Location (AML), a new app introduced in 2018 that sends a 911 call to the best available geolocator to a dedicated end-point, usually a Public Safety Answering Point. It is available on both Apple and Android phones and is already in use. FirstNet is also using geolocation apps on mobile devices of first responders, such as Watchtower.
Social Media – PSAP services can greatly improve during disasters by capturing social media posts of local senders requesting assistance or can contribute to incident information
IoT – Information coming from sensors such as medical devices or traffic cameras
Video – captured from mobile phones or tablets, video of incidences from callers and first responders
It may seem daunting to think about the changes to be made in local 911 dispatch organizations, but these enhancements are already improving critical communications in public safety and are well worthwhile.
HigherGround’s interaction recording and storage solution is now ready for FirstNet and the changes it brings.
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About the Author - Licia Wolf is the Marketing and Communications Manager at HigherGround. She holds a Ph.D., and a professional background in electronics, internet marketing, and print/imaging technology. Click here for more information on the rest of the HigherGround team.
HigherGround, Inc. provides best-in-class, reliable data capture and interaction storage solutions that enable clients to easily retrieve critical information. Our interaction recording and incident reconstruction solutions transform data into actionable intelligence, allowing optimization of operations, enhanced performance, and cost reduction.