“This was the first IP-based, out-of-lab call,” said Abu Swafford, Internet specialist at the 911 Center.
Tennessee’s Next Generation 911 network is connected in Brentwood and other Middle Tennessee 911 districts.
“Our received call was the beginning of the future in 911 communications and NG911,” Wilson explained.
The first call test went totally IP based.
“It came from a cellphone all the way through the system as an Internet Protocol call, and it was received in Bradley County. It was IP all the way,” Wilson said.
ModuUComm, the overseer of the local project and many other 911 centers console systems, and NetTN are administrating and testing the product, which will add a number of capabilities in the future to 911 communications.
“They will be taking what was learned from the first ‘out-of-lab’ call and make modifications. At this point in the testing mode, we have checked wireless calls only as the first phase continues,” Wilson said.
NG911 will allow 911 centers to receive texts, photos from scenes of crashes or incidents which will aid first response, better communication with those callers who may be hearing impaired and many other capabilities. Officials are excited about this new versatility.
“If this first phase goes well, we will then be incorporating wired service calls in the future,” Wilson said.
A few years ago, Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP) presented issues when calls were routed to 911.
Wilson explained the VoIP could send calls to trunks outside the local 911 due to the fact cellphones use towers. When the caller dialed 911, the phones would utilize available nearby towers for “hooking up,” making it difficult to determine a true location of the caller in the event of an emergency. Updated technology has addressed the issue.
A single cable is used to operate the NexGen system, unlike the hundreds of trunking wires which feed dispatchers’ terminals now.
Equipment was installed recently and testing begun. The new system will help alleviate the hard-wired systems which are in place at present.
The initial connection in Brentwood begins a process that will connect 911 centers across the state to one of the nation’s first statewide, Internet protocol-enabled 911 networks, according to state officials.
“This is digital 911,” Tennessee Emergency Communications board chair Randy Porter said recently. “It’s a major steppingstone toward a state-of-the-art network that will improve public safety.”
“NG911 will replace the analog network and increase the reliability of the 911 system. The statewide deployment will provide all Tennessee residents with a more responsive emergency communications system that will offer improved function in the case of disaster,” he explained.