While some may argue that it’s telecom folklore, the story remains about Alexander Graham Bell offering his patent on the telephone to Western Union for a mere $100,000 in 1876. As the story goes, the company responded with a relatively terse response stating that “the request for $100,000 of the sale of this patent is utterly unreasonable, since this device is inherently of no use to us”.
The same can be said for many technologists when talking about NG911 and the new IP-based infrastructure that can fix most problems with the legacy E911 environment today. The boisterous ones appear to be those entrenched in legacy E911 networks. A transition to NG911, and its new service abilities, scare them with the significantly simplified networks and more common off-the-shelf components and functional elements. Operationally these reduce costs of carrying traffic, a.k.a. less revenue, for those providing the current service.
If you look past the hype, you may find several unverified horror stories that seem to be aimed at scaring the unknowing more than educating them. Here are some of the more common fallacies floating around cyberspace trying to besmirch the reputation of NG911.
1.) NG911 is based on the Internet, and the Internet is unreliable.
While the Internet can be unreliable at times, the root of the outages experienced by the public occurs on non-critical circuits or ones that don’t mandate backup or specific uptime. For example, does your cable company deliver service to your home on two physically isolated paths, fed by two physically isolated core networks?
Of course not. But commercial networks that are mission-critical are not built this way when appropriately engineered, and Enterprises can quickly achieve instantaneous failover with indiscernible degradation of service.
2.) Enabling voice over IP connects my network to the Internet; where it’s wide open to hackers that will steal my identity and pillage my data. Indeed, a hacker can establish connectivity in this manner; however, proper security practices are implementable that detect and throttle those malicious attacks.
3.) There is no inherent value in additional multimedia content going to the 911 PSAP. Call takers are under constant stress, and additional data will overload them, actually decreasing their abilities. (Doesn’t that smell like the Western Union opinion of the telephone?) That excuse sounds too familiar for me.
4.) NG911 networks will require the total replacement of the existing E911 network, and that’s just too expensive or achievable in the next decade. While I agree with the complete replacement, I disagree that it is too costly. We are likely spending more money to maintain the legacy network than would be required to build an ESINet.
Secure IP networks can be easily deployed and stood up. In fact, with the advent of LTE broadband, wires can be eliminated. Also, even though network components need replacing, the physical infrastructure like the fiber optics and even the copper circuits are reused as Layer 1 media delivering IP network traffic. While the legacy network, or what remains, will be redundant to a fully survivable, redundant, and resilient new infrastructure; new transitional networks (i.e., RapidSOS) will emerge that can accept data from legacy and next-generation origination networks, passing the data along on IP backbones, and delivering the last mile over any facility type needed to reach the end-PSAP. If that entity is NG911 ready, the data will be delivered through a NENA i3 compliant architecture, or in the case of a legacy endpoint, be delivered through an IP connection or, as the last choice, distilled into a legacy database record that can be retrieved with the dynamic content.
For some time, PSAP’s have been aware of this migration trend. Their purchases over the last decade, and even more so over the last half-decade, have been utilizing systems that can already, or be easily upgraded to, accept the new NENA i3 standards. In well over half of the states, ESINet deployments are being built or are in place. California is actually in the process now of implementing its rollout of a state-wide ESINet.
In February 2019, Avaya delivered the first NG911 additional data from an Enterprise origination network. The solution also provided static additional data to the Shelbyville Tennessee PSAP with floorplans. Later that year, using additional two-way capabilities, the 911inform platform delivered dynamic data to the PSAP. This included building IoT control panels directly to public safety dispatch and MDTs in response vehicles providing a fully interactive environment allowing video as any other multimedia to traverse the network.
With this new IP connection in place, additional capabilities were added to the 911 inform architecture, including intelligent notifications back to the enterprise when emergency cellular calls originated inside a predefined micro Geo-fence. With 85% of all 911 calls originating from smart devices, when an emergency call occurs inside their geofence, whether in a building or the parking lot outside on their property, on-site security can be alerted and start an initial response. This notification allows extended collaboration and coordination between the enterprise and public safety, so entry and egress points can be predetermined and personnel staged accordingly, facilitating immediate access to buildings.
How is this new layer of connectivity provided between the enterprise and the PSAP? Simple. While the new ESINets get built at the state level, new transitional networks exist to accommodate NG911 data on ingress from the enterprise and egress to the PSAP. This new architecture allows the enterprise to move to NG911 today, packaging that information in the appropriate protocols, and delivering it to the RapidSOS Additional Data Repository. Once the NG911 networks get completed, the RapidSOS aggregation point’s functionality can move to the network layer. Here, the functionality will continue to operate as a gatekeeper. Enterprise traffic wishing to enter the ESINet will terminate here. This connection prevents understaffed PSAPs from managing enterprise accounts while providing a single egress and ingress point to public safety and the enterprise.
Should other players come into the market, while RapidSOS is the first, they certainly don’t have a lock on the market. That’s reassuring to enterprise customers, knowing that they’re not investing in a siloed technology from a single vendor. Instead, it is open standards-based that can be fulfilled by competitive companies, should they emerge.
Be sure to join me for a public webinar series with Jamison Peevyhouse, Director of Partner Success at RapidSOS, and Bob Finney from Collier County Sheriff’s Office. We discuss becoming Ray Baum’s Act Compliant with RapidSOS Ready solutions.
Jan 13, 2021, 2:30 PM – 3:30 PM Register for your seat here:
STAY WELL AND BE SAFE . . .
© 2020, All Rights Reserved, Mark J. Fletcher, ENP
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