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Next Generation FAQ

What is the Next Generation 9-1-1 Initiative?

The Next Generation 9-1-1 Initiative (NG9-1-1) is a U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) research and development project that will help define the system architecture and develop a transition plan that considers responsibilities, costs, schedule, and benefits for deploying Internet Protocol (IP)-based emergency services across the Nation.1 USDOT understands that access to emergency services provided by Public Safety Answering Points (PSAPs) in today's world of evolving technology will ultimately occur within a broader array of interconnected networks comprehensively supporting emergency services-from public access to those services, to the facilitation of those services, to the delivery of the emergency information to dispatchers and first responders.

1It is assumed that emergency service networks will be IP based, operating on IP networks shared with other emergency services and government services, in concert with existing and evolving communication technology and related services that will ultimately support much of the access to emergency services, along with the interconnection required to allow them to interrelate. Because of its purpose, NG9-1-1 service must be a priority service on the shared IP networks. Likewise, it is assumed that the emergency service network architecture driven by this document will generally follow the Internet Protocol Suite, including transport layer protocols like Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) and User Datagram Protocol (UDP). Consequently, requirements are not specifically identified herein for such matters.

Major milestones for the NG 9-1-1 Initiative project?

  1. National architecture and high-level design for NG9-1-1 System
  2. Proof of Concept
  3. Transition plan for NG9-1-1 implementation

Team Members of the NG9-1-1 Project?

The USDOT has contracted with Booz Allen Hamilton for the NG 9-1-1 Initiative project. The team members under this contract are Booz Allen Hamilton, the National Emergency Number Association (NENA), L. Robert Kimball and Associates and Texas A & M University (TAMU) Internet2 Technology Evaluation Center (ITEC).

Specific Tasks of the NG9-1-1 Project?

Task 1: System Architecture Development - Develop/revise Concept of Operations (ConOps), Define functional requirements / high-level architectural design, Provide Architectural Analysis, and Define Detailed Requirements.

Tasks 2 & 4 : Transition Analysis- Estimation of the NG9-1-1 benefits and costs, Identification of critical system deployment issues, and Development of plan for transitioning from today's 9-1-1 to NG9-1-1.

Task 3: Design and Demonstration of "Proof-of-Concept" - Design, development and demonstration of "Proof-of-Concept" system.

Objectives of the NG9-1-1 Initiative "Proof-of-Concept" demonstrations and will they include real PSAP’s?

Implement a working NG9-1-1 POC solution that can receive text, images, and video (in addition to voice) from several different kinds of access networks and communications devices.

Be capable of routing emergency data (text, images, and video) over public and private infrastructure while ensuring reliability and security of the data.

Demonstrate distance call access, transfer, and backup across geographically dispersed PSAPs using NG9-1-1, IP-based routing capability.

Demonstrate use of open platforms and non-proprietary standards for developing NG91-1 solutions

Build the technical foundation for developing grant guidance and evaluation criteria for NG9-1-1 systems.

The POC demonstration requires a small number of PSAP locations (4-6) to facilitate testing on various components/interfaces of the NG9-1-1 system architecture.

What is a NG9-1-1 System?

The NG9-1-1 System is an emergency call2 delivery and response system (or "system of systems") that will capitalize on advances in information and communications technologies, and will enable:

Quicker and more robust information as the result of making a 9-1-1 call

Better and more useful forms of information (text, images, and video) from any networked communications device

Transfer of 9-1-1 calls between geographically dispersed PSAPs (and from PSAP to remote public safety dispatches) if necessary

Increased aggregation and sharing of data, resources, procedures, and standards to improve emergency response

Maximized public capital and operating cost savings for emergency communications services

While NG9-1-1 will result in these benefits to nation-wide emergency services, it will also allow the flexibility necessary to allow operational standards, protocols, and best practices to be adopted and implemented to meet unique local circumstances and needs. For example, not all PSAPs will provide emergency medical pre-arrival instructions to callers. Likewise, it is not necessary for NG9-1-1 to have identical technological capabilities nation-wide.

2The term "call" is used in this document to indicate any real-time communication--voice, text, or video--between a person needing assistance and a PSAP call taker. This term also includes non-human-initiated automatic event alerts, such as alarms, telematics, or sensor data, which may also include real-time communications.

What is the vision for the NG9-1-1 System?

USDOT views the NG9-1-1 System as an evolutionary transition to enable the general public to make a 9-1-1 "call"3 from any wired, wireless, or Internet Protocol (IP)-based device, and allow the emergency services community to take advantage of Enhanced 9-1-1 (E9-1-1) call delivery and other functions through new internetworking4technologies based on open standards. By enabling the general public to access 9-1-1 services through virtually any communications device, the NG9-1-1 System provides a more direct ability to request help or share critical data with emergency services provider from any location. In addition, call takers at the Public Safety Answering Points (PSAP) will be able to transfer emergency calls to another PSAP and forward the location and other critical data, such as text messages, images, video, with the call.

3The term "call" is used in this document to indicate any real-time communication--voice, text, or video--between a person needing assistance and a PSAP call taker.  4"Internetwork" --to go between one network and another; a large network made up of a number of smaller networks.

What is the purpose of implementing a NG9-1-1 System?

Trends in telecommunications mobility and convergence have put the 9-1-1 system at a crossroads. The growing market penetration of both cellular and Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) telephony have underscored the limitations of the current 9-1-1 infrastructure. The Nation's 9-1-1 system, based on decades-old technology, cannot handle the text, images, and video that are increasingly common in personal communications and critical to future transportation safety and mobility advances. The current 9-1-1 system "is an analog technology in an overwhelmingly digital world."5

Many of the limitations of the current 9-1-1 system stem from its foundation on 1970s circuit-switched network technology.  Presently, convoluted systems are used to deliver 9 1-1 calls and any location data for landline voice, landline teletype/ telecommunications device for the deaf (TTY/TDD), wireless/ cellular voice, and VoIP 9-1-1 to the PSAP. Each introduction of a new access technology (e.g., wireless) or expansion of system functions (e.g., location determination) requires significant engineering and system modifications.

There appears to be consensus within the 9-1-1 community on the shortcomings of the present 9-1-1 system and the need for a new, more capable system to allow the general public to make 9-1-1 calls and send text, image, and video; capabilities that are increasingly common in mobile communications devices and vehicles. There is general agreement on the need to take advantage of advances in information and communications technologies.

5Dale N. Hatfield, former FCC Office Chief; A Report on Technical and Operational Issues Impacting the Provisions of Wireless Enhanced 911, October 2002, available at http://www.fcc.gov/911/enhanced/reports.

What are the major goals and objectives of the NG9-1-1 System?

The primary goal of the NG9-1-1 System is to save lives, health, and property by improving emergency services access and response in the United States. The state of the NG9-1-1 System also has a major effect on transportation security, mobility, and efficiency.

The NG9-1-1 System objectives that will lead to this goal include:

Enable E9-1-1 calls from any networked communication device.

Enable geographic-independent call access, transfer, and backup among PSAPs and between PSAPs, and other authorized emergency organizations.

Encourage a flexible, open, non-proprietary, and secure architecture to facilitate the implementation of an interoperable internetwork (system of systems).

Foster increased coordination and partnerships within the public safety community.

Encourage standards coordination and interoperability across the United States and with other emergency services network providers within North America (Canada and Mexico), recognizing the global impacts of routing emergency calls in an IP environment.

Maximize emergency services capital, operating, and maintenance cost savings.

Who is defining the NG9-1-1 System?

USDOT will monitor activities by Standard Development Organizations (SDO) that are currently working on requirements and standards related to NG9-1-1. For example, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Network Reliability and Interoperability Council (NRIC), National Emergency Number Association (NENA), the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF), and the Alliance for Telecommunications Industry Solutions (ATIS) Emergency Services Interconnection Forum (ESIF) have consensus-based efforts underway to develop requirements and standards for public safety, 9-1-1, and other emergency services networks. USDOT expects that the products of these consensus efforts will form the foundation for NG9-1-1 Initiative engineering and demonstration projects.

Will there be changes to the current 9-1-1 funding paradigm?

The current financing paradigm for the 9-1-1 system operations will likely prove inadequate in the future. Surcharges, fees, and taxes on telephone equipment and services fund a significant portion of the capital and operating costs for today's 9-1-1 system. Traditional landline telephone services are being replaced by wireless and VoIP services. Consequently, the corresponding revenue stream for the 9-1-1 system is expected to decline. Moreover, there is reason to believe that telephony will eventually be a "free" application available to Internet users along with e-mail, instant messaging, and other communications applications. This would further undermine the dependency on telephone-related revenues for 9-1-1 funding.

Although the historical 9-1-1 funding paradigm is likely to change, the opportunity for sharing costs through shared infrastructure and related operations will increase, as will economies of scale. As NRIC VII reported, "a significant initial investment is required" to develop the infrastructure, upgrade the Nation's PSAPs, and interface with many new entities. New revenue sources will be needed, but recurring costs for 9-1-1 equipment and operations may decrease because of the potentially lower costs for IP-based equipment and infrastructure.

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