In a previous post, we examined how social media had a profound effect on emergency response in the aftermath of the January 2010 earthquake that devastated the Caribbean island nation of Haiti. This marked the first instance of social media being leveraged in this manner, when disaster victims rose up to play a role in their own rescue.
A network television show that debuted recently is centered on a crowd-sourcing platform that is used to solve all sorts of serious crimes, and in some cases, prevent them. While this may seem implausible, it actually is a case of art imitating life.
Ready or not, data is taking over the world. So what does that mean for emergency communications?
The way in which public safety answering points (PSAPs) respond to both emergency, and non-emergency events, will change dramatically once public safety communications starts harnessing the the increasing availability of data in our communities. Here are some interesting stats:
- Internet-connected machines are expected to be more than 200 billion by 2020 according to research from Intel.
- Gartner predicts that the IoT market will eventually include 20.8 billion things.
- Technology giant Ericsson predicts that in 2018, there will be more IoT gadgets than mobile devices.
In today’s communications environment, PSAPs rely primarily on voice communications to provide an up-to-date picture of what’s happening at the emergency scene and communicate with other first responders. This is problematic when the communications infrastructure becomes disabled during natural disasters, or when a victim is unable to place a call for help.
“Let’s go invent tomorrow instead of worrying about what happened yesterday.” – Steve Jobs
Our nation’s 911 centers, the nexus of citizens who need help and our dedicated first responders, are on the brink of a major evolution. Some would say that it is on a level similar to how the iPhone revolutionized mobile communications a decade ago.
The foundation currently is being laid for end-to-end Internet Protocol (IP) communications from the caller (or sensor) all the way through to the first responders in the field. Freed from the limitations of 512 characters (or less) of emergency caller data, the 911 sector will integrate systems and networks previously impeded by proprietary protocols and siloed networks.
The convergence of Next Generation 911 (NG911) and the Nationwide Public Safety Broadband Network (NPSBN) will give 911 professionals and first responders alike a seamless emergency communications environment that enables sharing of critical multimedia data—between the public, 911 centers, and first responders. Gone will be the days of, “This network/system doesn’t talk to that one.” Or, “That data isn’t available.” Or, “There’s no way for me to send you that information.”
The flywheel of progress continues to turn and we all owe it to everyone who calls 911 in their greatest time of need to keep it moving in the right direction. Discussions are taking place on how and why Emergency Services IP Networks (ESInets)—which will transmit emergency calls and related data—and the NPSBN need to be interconnected to share critical information needed by 911 centers and first responders alike. There are many compelling use cases that speak to the need for a strong integration—all of which come back to the workflow of our emergency responders. Keeping our responders safe, leveraging the data to make better decisions, and ultimately improving outcomes for those who need help, are all reasons that NG911 systems and the NPSBN must work together.
Next Generation 911 (NG911) and the Nationwide Public Safety Broadband Network (NPSBN) promise to be powerful platforms that will improve response times, create resource efficiencies and revolutionize how public safety operates. We believe that NG911 content, defined as value-added data inputs about a call, caller or the location of a call, will not only enable first responders in the migration towards NG911, but will also help drive NG911 adoption.