Next Generation 9 - 1 - 1 Brings Lifesaving Advantages
By Chris Cord, E911 Director
The 9 - 1 - 1 system celebrated its 53rd anniversary on February 16th. In 1968 the first 9 - 1 - 1 call was placed in Haleyville, Alabama, between two Alabama politicians. Since that time, little has changed with 9 - 1 - 1 technology. In fact, Orange County Emergency Communications ’ recent transfer of 9 - 1 - 1 calls to another county is reminiscent of the 1983 movie War Games with the ‘ automated system ’ consisting of a phone tree requiring the typing of numbers and the # sign and an early text to speech system. The current 9 - 1 - 1 system is tethered to
voice - centric communications and relies on an analog network that places limitations on the reliable delivery of 9 - 1 - 1 service. Apps like Uber can locate callers with greater ease than traditional 9 - 1 - 1, which relies upon triangulation between towers for cell phone calls. Next Generation 9 - 1 - 1 (NG9 - 1 - 1) is an internet protocol - based 9 - 1 - 1 network. Instead of copper - based phone lines running to a selective router in a central office, 9 - 1 - 1 centers are connected via fiber to an Emergency Services Internet Protocol Network (ESInet). The ESInet is a network - of - networks much like the Internet. This network has greater redundancy and can transmit text, pictures, and video in addition to voice. The recent bombing of the AT&T building in Nashville highlighted the vulnerability of our decades - old system. A critical advantage of the new NG 9 - 1 - 1 network is that should one part of the network go down, the ESInet reroutes transmissions for continued operations. The NG9 - 1 - 1 system ’ s additional data capabilities allow responders to locate callers more quickly and send and receive text messages, pictures, and videos efficiently, a requirement in today ’ s ever - increasing mobile world. Orange County Emergency Communications ’ recent upgrade consisted of new call handling servers, an upgrade of VESTA software, and workstations for our communications officers. With this new equipment, Orange County Emergency Communications is ready for our scheduled connection to ESInet in June of 2021. Should you ever find yourself in Haleyville, stop in City Hall and see the red phone that started it all!
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