MCP Insights

Glenn Bischoff

Glenn Bischoff is MCP’s technical writer/editor. Prior to joining the firm three years ago, he spent a decade covering the 9-1-1 sector for Urgent Communications magazine. He can be emailed at glennbischoff@missioncriticalpartners.com.

Recent Posts

INTERVIEW: Helping 911 Evolve as Technology Evolves

Posted by Glenn Bischoff on Jun 4, 2018 3:21:25 PM

This blog post is the second in a two-part series with two MCP experts, John Cunnington and Nancy Pollock, who together have more than of 80 years of experience in public safety communications. This blog post is part of our Let's Evolve 911 campaign that commemorates the 50th anniversary of the first 911 call, which took place 50 years ago this year.

In a previous post, Nancy Pollock and John Cunnington shared their perspectives on the evolution of 911 service in the United States over its first half century. In this post, they pick up where they left off, finishing with their insights regarding the sector’s future.

MCP Insights: In the previous post, you spoke of the addressing challenges that existed in the early stages of 911 service. But eventually, ANI/ALI and selective routers became ubiquitous—so the next big step forward was the introduction of CAD.

Nancy: To understand how important the introduction of CAD was, you have to understand how things were done before it arrived. 

John: There was a manually created “run card” for every physical location—on that card was a list of the various emergency services that could be dispatched to that location. These run cards were the precursors of the datasets that are contained in today’s CAD systems. When a call came in, the dispatcher would pull the run card and use it to make the appropriate dispatching decisions. It was important that the run card was put back in its rightful place, so that it would be available for the next incident at that location. Keeping the cards updated was a major effort.

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Topics: 911 Anniversary

INTERVIEW: In the Early Days, Implementing 911 Was No Easy Task

Posted by Glenn Bischoff on May 31, 2018 10:30:00 PM

This blog post is the first in a two-part series with two MCP experts, John Cunnington and Nancy Pollock, who together have more than of 80 years of experience in public safety communications. This blog post is part of our Let's Evolve 911 campaign that commemorates the 50th anniversary of the first 911 call, which took place 50 years ago this year.

A national property insurance firm coined the slogan, “We know a thing or two because we’ve seen a thing or two.” Given the collective experience of MCP’s experts, it is a slogan we too would be justified in using.

In this year when the 50th anniversary of 911 service in the United States is being celebrated, two of those experts, John Cunnington and Nancy Pollock, shared their memories about the things they’ve seen over their well-established 911 careers, with a focus on the evolution of 911 service to date.

MCP Insights: What was 911 service like when you started your career?

John: I started in the mid-1970s, in a very rural part of central Pennsylvania, and for the first six to eight years we didn’t have routine access to 911 service. With only small towns or cities with 911, depending on the type of emergency, citizens would call 10-digit numbers for each discipline: police, fire, EMS and so on. Consolidated communications centers was our key focus. It was a lot to coordinate, and getting calls to the right place was cumbersome, time-consuming and fraught with error. And even though we could see the benefits of consolidating all calls in a single emergency number and platform, many service chiefs and local elected officials resisted the change, citing local control and knowledge. The key to our early success was having a “champion” in each county for consolidation. In my early experience, I was supported by courageous police chiefs, EMTs and firefighters to keep consolidation in the forefront. They were the early adopters in those years.

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Topics: 911 Anniversary

Integrating crowd-sourced data into 911 is a great idea

Posted by Glenn Bischoff on Mar 1, 2018 9:00:00 AM

During the Early Adopter Summit—a gathering of 911 industry professionals on the leading edge of disruptive innovation, both technological and operational, convened last November by Christy Williams, 911 director for the North Central Texas Council of Governments (NCTCOG)—Michael Morris, NCTCOG’s director of transportation, told a story about a colleague who recently had encountered a considerable amount of road debris.

The colleague had called 911 to report the debris and learned that this was the only call that had been received about the matter. However, the colleague also was told that Waze, the crowd-sourced mapping and navigation application, indicated that five of its users had reported the debris, with the first instance occurring 38 minutes prior to the colleague calling 911.

Integrate Waze with the 911 system?

Morris then spoke about the possibility of someday integrating applications such as Waze with the 911 system. “I’m not saying that it would be easy to integrate Waze with a 911 system,” he said. “But there are algorithms that can be written so that, maybe once you get the second or third verification … it (becomes) a 911 item. It gets back to the notion of prevention, versus just responding.”

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Topics: Next Generation 911, Network Evolution, 911 Anniversary

911’s History is Gratifying, but its Future is Thrilling

Posted by Glenn Bischoff on Feb 12, 2018 3:00:00 PM

Considering that our planet is about 4.5 billion years old, a 50-year slice doesn’t seem all that significant—until one considers the amazing progress that can be achieved in such a timeframe. Take aviation for instance. On December 17, 1903, at Kitty Hawk, N.C., Orville and Wilbur Wright made the first flight of a powered aircraft; the voyage lasted 12 seconds and covered 120 feet. By the early 1950s, jets were traversing the Atlantic Ocean on a regular basis, and soon after the first non-stop flight to Australia occurred.

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Topics: Next Generation 911, Public Safety Technology, 911, 911 Anniversary

Telecommunicators Deserve the Spotlight All Year Long

Posted by Glenn Bischoff on Apr 13, 2017 1:28:58 PM

Every year in June when I was a kid, my father and I shared the same joke. We did this on Father’s Day. I would say to him, “Must be nice … so, when is Kid’s Day?” And he would reply, “Every day is Kid’s Day.” Behind the humor was truth—he and my mother celebrated me and my brothers, and went above and beyond every day to give us a good start in life.

A tribute to our nation's telecomunicators

What got me thinking about that is National Telecommunicators Week, which is celebrated annually during the second week of April. It could be well argued that the nation’s 9-1-1 call-takers, dispatchers and supervisors—the unsung heroes of emergency response—deserve to be honored every week of the year.

The gravity of the job is tremendous, and so are the stresses. Those who call 9-1-1 are experiencing the worst day of their lives, and for some of them it will be the last day.

Lives are on the line and seconds count

Recently I did a Google search using the phrase, “most disturbing 9-1-1 calls.” The stories are as heartbreaking as they are eye-opening. The emotional toll on the telecommunicators who field such calls is staggering. But they don’t have the luxury of succumbing to those emotions. Remember that when a 9-1-1 call is placed, lives are on the line and seconds count. Ergo, telecommunicators must keep their wits about them at all times, lest they be unable to do what is needed. This involves dispatching the appropriate emergency response, of course, but also keeping the person on the other end of the line calm and, often, providing life-saving instructions to the caller, and vital information to first responders en route to enhance their situational awareness.

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Topics: Industry News, Staffing

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