Breaker 911: 50-Year Old Technology Saves Lives

You can never know where technology will rear its head. Most of the time it is based on the future, but many times it can be based on our past. This week, I proudly turn my blog over to Professor Ima Pharceur, PhD. Professor Pharceur is the noted Chief Research Scientist at the world-class Social Media Communications and Information Sharing Institute of Technology (SMCISIT for short) in Brussels, Belgium.


Next Generation Citizen Band Emergency Services

There is no doubt that Social Media is deeply embedded in our daily lives today, however, it’s roots can be traced back to a Social Media craze that was popular 4 decades ago in the mid-70’s. Millions of people all over the country, and the world installed small, low powered two-way radio transmitters in their cars to talk to each other, converse with over the road truckers, and report emergencies to teams of dedicated people and police agencies monitoring CB Channel ‘9’, the official Emergency Hailing Frequency for the Citizen Band Radio Communications and Information Radio Relay System, or CBRCIRRS for short.

The Federal Communications Commission established Citizen Band Radios as a core system of low powered short-distance radio communications between endpoints on the same channel within the possible 40 channels that all exist in the 27 MHz (11 m) band.

This frequency range is distinct and separate from the existing Family Radio System (FRS), General Mobile Radio System (GMRS), Multi Use Radio System (MURS), and Amateur Radio Service commonly known as “ham” radio systems.

Unlike it’s more powerful cousins the Ham Radio, operation often does not require a license, and it may be used for both business or personal communications, and refrigeration is not required as with most Ham products. Since the frequencies, better known as channels, are open in nature, any user can share the channel in a simplex type of operation. This means that while one station transmits; other stations listen and wait for the channel to be available.

Initially, 23 channels were assigned by the FCC, however due to popularity in the late 70’s and 80’s, a massive increase in use was seen, and the FCC allocated and additional 17 frequencies, bringing the total to 40. To remain backward compatible with radios already in place, Channel ‘9’ remained as the designated emergency channel.

Today, with Next Generation Emergency Services on the cusp of deployment across the US, and with 3.5 Million professional truckers on the road in the US, that is potentially 14 Million individual eyes or ears that are keeping watch over every quarter square mile if distributed evenly.

CB-911-CircuitWith most radios in use today being digital in nature, the addition of a new additional channel, specifically designed for NG911 usage is a simple low-cost addition to nearly any radio transmitter. In an effort not to ‘step on’ existing communities and their usage of the existing public airways, this new technology, patented by the SMC Institute, uses a new Bi-Polar Wave Guide Induction Ionosphere Relay Circuit or B-PWIIRC for short, to create a new dynamic frequency waveguide that is capable of transmitting information at speeds equaling 100 Gbs, which is perfect for voice, video, text, email, IM, Internet Relay Chat, TTY-TDD, and Morse Code, making it 100% backwards compatible with technology.

200px-CrazyeddieThis very well may be the thing that brings corporations like RadioShack and Syosset, NY-based Lafayette Electronics back into business, and there are rumors that the estate of ‘Crazy’ Eddie Antar is interested in setting up mobile sales venues in Truck Stops and Shopping Malls across the northeast.

Next Generation Emergency Services expert Mark J. Fletcher, ENP from Avaya was quoted as saying, “I’ve run the numbers myself, and what they are claiming seems to work out, mathematically speaking. Obviously, rigorous interoperability testing will be required.” Fletcher added that he see’s several uses for the product, like summoning local drones and passing truckers to emergent events, because they “usually carry band-aids, and many times are armed.”

The system is only compatible with 911 solutions today, but being digitally based, there are already models on the drawing board for 112 and 999 solutions in the UK and Europe. With the 3D printing capabilities that exist now, anything that is on the drawing board is a real possibility.


Thanks to Doctor Pharceur for his tireless work on this topic, and I hope that he keeps the hammer down, and things are clean and green as he brings this technology to fruition. Happy April 1st everyone!

Follow me on Twitter @Fletch911
Read my other AVAYA CONNECTED Blogs

Mark J. Fletcher, ENP is the Chief Architect for Worldwide Public Safety Solutions at Avaya. As a seasoned professional with nearly 30 years of service, he directs the strategic roadmap for Next Generation Emergency Services in both the Enterprise and Government portfolios at Avaya. In 2014, Fletcher was made a member of the NENA Institute Board in the US, in 2014 – 2015 he served as co-chair of the EENA NG112 Committee in the European Union, providing valuable insight to State and Federal legislators globally driving forward both innovation and compliance.

The BEST thing I stole this Christmas

While I take great pride in writing my own blog posts, I do read quite a bit, and I often run across great content that I am inclined to share a little further than the ‘SHARE’ button. When I see those certain nuggets, I invite them to reiterate their thoughts on my little island in the vast interwebs and share them with my, dare I say, friends. With that, I give you the BEST thing I STOLE this Christmas, and that is the RAVE Mobile Safety Top 5 List of Public Safety Events for 2015.

Originally published on Rave Mobile Safety’s Blog Site


It’s that time of year when we look back at the past year and forward to the next. To understand where we are going, it’s helpful to look at the road we’ve already traveled. In that spirit, here is a look back at the Top 5 Trends that had the biggest impact on Emergency communications in 2015.

Costly Failures

9-1-1 needs to work. This message was heard loud and clear by service providers when earlier this year, the FCC doled out fines totaling more than $20 million to Verizon Communications Inc., CenturyLink Inc. and Intrado Inc.. No technology is perfect, and occasionally issues happen, but the FCC’s aggressive response clearly showed that our public safety communication infrastructure needs not only redundancy at all steps but rigorous process and timely notification and visibility into corrective actions. As the industry moves to enhance networks, software and processes we can’t lose site of the difference between the cost of a consumer application not working and a public safety service not working. If an app “locks up”, a data connection drops, or a 10-digit call fails, we simply try again. We don’t really know or care why it didn’t work. It is simply a minor annoyance. It’s more than a minor annoyance when lives are at stake. 9-1-1 is different. It needs to work and we need to continue the process of continual improvement to build resiliency into the entire emergency call handling chain.  It’s why we tell people to call 9-1-1 and not some other number.

Kari’s Law

While the tragic death of Kari Hunt Dunn was in 2013, 2015 was the year her impact on public safety was most felt. Starting with legislation in Suffolk County, Long Island, it spurred changes in the existing Illinois law, and new legislation in Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Texas where it came to the attention of Congressman Louie Gohmert who filed a Bill in the U.S. House of Representatives that would expand on the Texas law requiring direct dialing of 9-1-1 and on-site notification for multi-line telephone systems.  The tireless work of the Hunt family and supporters like FCC Commissioner Pai and Avaya Public Safety Architect Mark Fletcher, ENP resulted in rapid action across the country. While the changes to the MLTS configurations are clearly needed, this event makes my Top 5 list because of the example set in turning a tragic event into trend to solve a “hidden” issue, resulting in untold lives saved in the future.

Location, Location, Location

I grew up with a mom who sold real estate. I can’t even count the number of times I’ve heard about how it is all about location. Well, that is true in 9-1-1 as well, and 2015 was the year the FCC took aggressive action to improve both visibility into the location information being provided to PSAPs as well as the quality of that data (especially indoors). In February 2015, The FCC issued enhanced locations standards. Following on the indoor location roadmap endorsed by NENA, APCO, and the 4 leading wireless carriers in late 2014, the rules drive improved location accuracy for indoor callers over the next 7 years. The carriers, the CTIA and ATIS took quick action in developing standards and moving aggressively towards improving location. While meeting the standards will take a mix of different technologies, an RFP has already been issued for the NEAD (National Emergency Address Database) which will provide location information on WiFi access points – a key part of the indoor location mix. While those of us in public safety always want things to move faster, the reality is that a national roll-out, of a public safety grade solution, done correctly, on the timeline required is an aggressive undertaking and I applaud the FCC for creating consensus and driving the process. Within a short time frame, we will begin to see vast improvements in indoor location accuracy delivered by the carriers to PSAPs.

FirstNet Drives Public Safety Investment

In December 2015, FirstNet’s board approved the Request for Proposal (RFP) to deploy the nationwide public safety broadband network (NPSBN) and directed management to take all necessary actions to release the RFP in early January. While this is clearly a huge step towards a first responder network, the work towards defining the NPSBN and the level of momentum sustained by FirstNet is why this made my list for 2015. A by-product of this effort is an increased level of interest and investment in public safety by both the venture capital community and established companies that have traditionally been active in tangential markets (e.g. federal, defense, health care). The level of innovation and resources brought by these companies can only serve to help improve the options we have available to us in providing better service and response to citizens.

Technology Adoption Marches On… and Into Public Safety

According to the CTIA, more than 47 percent of American homes use only cellphones, and 71 percent of people in their late 20s live in households with only cellphone. According to a 2015 Pew Research Center Study, “nearly three-quarters of teens have or have access to a smartphone and 30% have a basic phone, while just 12% of teens 13 to 17 say they have no cell phone of any type”. To improve service and offload the rapidly growing network traffic, the carriers have begun enabling WiFi calling on mobile devices (see this blog post for our WiFi calling to 9-1-1 testing results and implications). Well known to any parent, Pew also reports that Facebook remains the most used social media site among American teens ages 13 to 17 with 71% of all teens using the site, even as half of teens use Instagram and four-in-ten use Snapchat. So what does this mean for PSAPs?

Already nearly 10% of the country gets additional data on calls from Smart911, regions are rapidly rolling out NG9-1-1 to facilitate new call types, and despite the worries of many about getting swamped with text messages, texting-to-911 is becoming common place across PSAPs. Social media is also creeping its way into public safety with an increasing number of fusion centers and crime centers actively monitoring social media. As communication trends evolve, so too will our emergency communications capabilities.



Thanks so much to the folks at RAVE. A very innovative company with an eye on the future providing support and fresh new ideas to PSAPs across the country as we all strive to push forward to the Next Generation of 9-1-1 services becomes a reality.

Follow me on Twitter @Fletch911

Read my other AVAYA CONNECTED Blogs

Mark J. Fletcher, ENP is the Chief Architect for Worldwide Public Safety Solutions at Avaya. As a seasoned professional with nearly 30 years of service, he provides the strategic roadmap and direction of Next Generation Emergency Services in both the Enterprise and Government portfolios at Avaya. In 2014, Fletcher was made a member of the NENA Institute Board in the US, and is an active participant in EENA where he provides insight to State and Federal legislators globally driving forward best practices in both innovation and compliance.

Self Dispatch – A Major NO NO!

Guest Blog By: Greg Bogosian
Certified Reserve Police Officer
Commonwealth of Massachusetts

It’s a slow night in town.  Everyone is making their own work in the absence of calls, running LIDAR or catching up on paperwork, or maybe doing some community policing.  Perhaps you’re driving around on patrol, eyes and ears open for what might otherwise be unseen, or maybe you’re just trying to stave off boredom at the hands of the “Q” word (whose name shall never be spoken in this blog.)

Suddenly, a hot or interesting call comes in.  Doesn’t matter what it is – shooting, robbery in progress, vehicle pursuit, squirrels breaking into the local bank – it’s something, and it beats doing “nothing,” so you and everyone else on the shift within a reasonable distance of the call decide to head over to check it out and help.  Maybe you tell your dispatcher that you’re going, maybe you don’t (hint: if your dispatcher doesn’t know where you are, neither does the ambulance.)

Suddenly, there are enough cruisers on scene to arrest the same individual multiple times over (take turns?) and therein lies a gigantic danger-factor increase that we must take a serious look at.  So let’s talk about what happens as a result.

When More Isn’t Better
We all know from the Academy about the concept of contact-and-cover during a felony stop.  One officer makes contact while the other provides cover in case things go sideways – a clear delineation of roles that allows us to each perform a specific set of tasks, because we each understand what we are supposed to do.

But what happens if you suddenly have 10 guys on scene?  Are they all going to approach from a safe angle, or are you going to find that since they came from multiple places, some of them are converging from the other side, putting themselves in a crossfire pattern?  What about the question of who does what – do you think that the contact-and-cover roles are still going to remain as clear when suddenly you have 8 more guys on scene who want to act because that’s what they’ve been trained to do?

The latter might work okay if you have a controlled scene, but if the brown stuff truly hits the fan, all that is going out the window.  It’s nobody’s fault – the simple truth is that if that happens, you’re not going to be able to adequately communicate to each other because you will be too busy reacting.  Unlike a public order platoon or other “planned mass response,” these unplanned multiple-officer responses often don’t have clear rules of engagement, either, because the threat is unknown and oftentimes not observable until the last second.

As we’ve seen in many unfortunate examples, the result of the decentralization of a response, and the attendant confusion, is that people may be shot who were not the intended targets, or other adverse consequences may arise out of the incident, because the crowd mentality reduces awareness of the actual level of action needed… in part, because we tend to go with what the guy next to us is doing.

The other side to this argument is, of course, that nobody “really” knows how many officers will be required to respond to a particular call – but that’s the reason why dispatchers exist and why they are so highly trained.  There will be the 1% of calls that truly go sideways and need all hands on deck, but for the most part, dispatch will be able to get a sense of what’s going on and send out the appropriate number of officers to handle what is anticipated to be the situation.

Let’s be honest with ourselves, too: going because we have nothing else to do does happen with some frequency in many areas, and isn’t always because we “don’t know if something is going to go wrong”.   We got into this job because we wanted to make a difference, for the most part, and sometimes just driving around, or doing paperwork, doesn’t really feel like it fits the bill, even though it does.  (As the saying goes, you never know what you prevented just by being visible.)

Nothing Else Waits
To flip around the argument that “you never know what will happen” justifies every patrol vehicle within a 25-mile radius going to a call that sounds busy or hot, consider that a call where large numbers of time-critical resources are actually needed could just as easily happen while you’re part of a 15-cruiser pileup on a residential street as a result.

What if your “hot” call is actually hot but part of it is mobile (e.g. fleeing felon, simultaneous related crime scenes, or – heaven forbid – an actual coordinated, multi-site terrorist attack), requiring resources in multiple locations all at once?  All of the sudden, your self-dispatch has resulted in a scenario where your agency’s ability to adequately respond is negatively impacted, potentially resulting in death or bodily harm not only to civilians, but to other officers who may now be engaging a threat requiring more personnel.

It’s never as simple as “oh, I can get out if I need to,” by the way.  Once you’re on a scene, either by dint of your cruiser not having jump jets to hop over the other 10 cars between you and the egress point, or because you’re now involved in the scene otherwise, it is very difficult to actually respond as rapidly as you could if you were not otherwise encumbered.  Geographically, as well, you’re probably out of your normal sector and facing an increased response time even if you are the last car who pulled in and can get out.

The upshot of all of this is this: self-dispatching may seem like a good idea at the time, but in reality it actually hampers our ability to respond clearly and precisely to the reality of the call that we are faced with.  There may be a few times where it actually helps, but for the most part it results in there being too many cooks in a kitchen where the wrong number of people can result in something far worse than being burned by mishandling a pot on the stove.  If you can, remember that your own truly hot call may be just around the corner at any time, and that those who actually need you to prevent them from being consumed by an inferno are counting on your being there to extinguish the flames.  That, in the end, is the true reason that we’re out here, and the greatest difference that we could ever make.


Greg Bogosian is certified as a Reserve/Intermittent Police Officer by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, and spent twelve years working as an EMT-Basic, including four years as a field EMT and dispatcher for the City of Boston EMS.  He was additionally a member of a Federal medical disaster relief team for ten years, with experience responding to the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, and the pre-deployment of resources for Hurricane Ike.  Greg currently has a passion for educating public safety professionals about matters which impact their lives every day, and welcomes feedback and suggestions in the spirit of ensuring that best practices make it out there for all to benefit from.

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