For the past ten years, nearly everyone involved in the communications industry has heard the buzz about the next wave in emergency response, referred to colloquially as ‘Next Gen 911’, but beyond a catchy name and weighty reputation, what exactly does this service upgrade entail?
Well, the best way to think about it is as a brand new, significantly larger, information infrastructure. Whereas the current system allows for communication with emergency response experts via telephone only, Next Gen 911 is an adaptation of the same model, but designed to accommodate modern communication devices. Emergency operators will soon be able to process text messages, videos, pictures, and even data files which have been sent from the general public.
This not only allows for greater access to emergency response, it also allows the operators themselves to develop a clearer understanding of each emergency situation. This will help them properly allocate both resources and personnel, as well as allowing operators to provide more accurate instructions to the person who contacted them. Simply put, it is a system that will make the process of saving lives more efficient and more effective by allowing for the greatest possible communication between those on the ground and those who are able to help.
Originally developed and proposed in 2000, the new system officially achieved proof of concept in 2008, and has been closing in on full implementation for several months now. With it being such a large scale and obviously important operation, the logistics of bringing Next Gen 911 to reality across North America have demanded a lengthy and inclusive testing phase, but now that it has reached the point of implementation, the excitement around this life-saving technology is beginning to build quickly.
With beneficial applications that are still revealing themselves to this day (including better access to emergency response for the hearing impaired and the ability communicate to oncoming traffic that an accident has occurred ahead), Next Gen 911 infrastructure has proven itself to be the next step in emergency response technology, capable of cutting costs, reducing inefficiencies, and most importantly, saving lives.