Next-Generation 911. NG911. Next-Gen 911. All buzzwords that have been floating around the public safety sector for years.  

You may have been asked, “Are you Next-Gen 911 ready?” or “How is your PSAP’s adoption of NG911 going?” and you’re unsure how to answer those questions.  

In this blog post, we’ll help you better understand what Next Generation 911 is, how adopting it can impact your PSAP’s performance, and why it’s critical to get moving on the transition. 


What is Next Generation 911?

Because most 911 systems were originally built using analog technologies, PSAPs from all over North America need to be upgraded to a digital or IP-based system to keep up with the evolving demands of the public. The communication technologies that citizens use have also evolved, including greater adoption of cell phones, text and picture messaging, video chat, social media, and Voice of the Internet Protocol (VoIP) devices. Citizens expect to be able to communicate with emergency services over these new channels, causing a need for readjustment from the traditional analog-based model. 

In comes the Next Generation 911 concept. The future success of 911 in serving the public’s needs will only be possible when PSAPs have transitioned to an Internet-Protocol (IP)-based system. 

Doing so will enhance emergency number services by creating a faster, more resilient system that allows digital information like voice, photos, videos, and text messages to flow seamlessly from the public, through the 911 network, and eventually, directly to first responders. 


How can adopting NG911 affect my PSAP’s performance?

The key features of Next Generation 911 have numerous benefits that we will cover in this section. But, it’s important to remember that a critical factor of transitioning to NG911 is having the right solution and partner to guide you through it.  

One significant result of transitioning to NG911 is the increase in efficiency of your PSAP. Gone are the days of manual processes like logging and reconstruction. Technologies and processes are seamlessly integrated, making your job easier and the operations of your PSAP run much smoother. 

There are several key features to touch on that can impact the performance of your PSAP; 

1. VoIP Recording 

Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) recording is another key component of Next-Gen 911. VoIP devices are not your typical plugged-in phones or 911 consoles. Instead, they’re any phone or radio that makes and receives calls using the Internet.  

By recording VoIP communications along with phone, text, and more, PSAPs have the ability to pull interactions and data from several different sources to reconstruct an incident and understand the full story. 

2. Text-to-911 

Text-to-911 is the ability to send a text message to reach 911 emergency dispatchers from your mobile phone or device.  

The Brazos County Council of Governments (BVCOG) embraced text-to-911 recording and multimedia incident management with NICE Inform, which helped them achieve several goals they set for meeting the public’s needs. They wanted to assist those who were hard of hearing and had speech impairments by making emergency services more accessible to them. Another factor that text-to-911 helped BVCOG address was providing stealth connections for people involved in drug deals, domestic violence, abductions, home invasions, and gun related crime so a timely intervention would be possible and achievable. 

Text messaging is a primary and quick method of communication, which is why so many PSAPs are finding a text-to-911 solution to be very helpful. All text communications are recorded in the NICE Inform platform, and complete legal documentation is provided along with it.  

NG911 Concepts that go hand in hand with NG911 Mandates 

3. CAD Integration 

Computer-aided dispatch systems, otherwise known as CAD, are utilized by individuals like dispatchers and 9-1-1 operators in PSAPs to prioritize and record incident calls, identify the status and location of responders in the field, and effectively dispatch responder personnel. 

In your 911 platform, a CAD Integration allows you to search for and instantly retrieve entire incidents. Searching for calls, radio, or test recordings related to an incident can easily be searched for using a CAD incident number. With NICE Inform, CAD data and analytics are embedded in virtually every module to save you time and help you surface critical operational performance and quality insights. Record requests can be fulfilled quicker with being able to access everything in one place, and your quality assurance call selection and scheduling can even be automated. 

4. Third Party Import 

There are several other forms of communication that are typically recorded in a PSAP, which include videos, pictures, and documents. Third party import is the ability to take these documents and recordings from their recording platform and import them into your main system. This contributes to more holistic and detailed incident reconstruction because one interface is used for all the different communication types. 

How do I stay up to date with the changing NG911 mandates?

A difficult part of the NG911 concept is being aware of the changing mandates that are put out by nationwide public safety agencies such as the CRTC in Canada and APCO or NENA in the United States. Currently, the ability to record text-to-911 and VoIP conversations will be enforced in every PSAP within the next year and a half, but this has changed in the past.  

Wilmac is aware of these changing mandates and works to bring greater knowledge to PSAPs. Next-Gen 911 will eventually be adopted by all PSAPs due to the mandates, but, for now, we will work to help you understand your options and be ready to transition when the time comes. 


Why do I need to be NG911 ready?

The public’s needs are constantly changing, and the evolution of communication methods will not slow down. To effectively serve and protect the community, PSAPs must be able to quickly act on dangerous incidents, efficiently capture the appropriate information to understand exactly what happened, and minimize the time spent to reconstruct those incidents.  

You need to be NG911 ready because the public demands it. 

Next-Gen 911 helps PSAPs create a faster, more resilient system with enhanced emergency number services. It seamlessly integrates all modes of communication to create a wholesome timeline. It improves your ability to manage call overload, natural disasters, transferring of 911 calls, and proper jurisdictional responses. People do not have to rely on phone communications to connect with a 911 operator. The list of benefits goes on… 

With the constantly improving capabilities of NICE Inform and the skillset and guidance of the Public Safety team at Wilmac, your PSAP can answer “Are you Next-Gen 911 ready?” with a resounding “Yes!” Over 30 years of experience in public safety and being a Premier partner of NICE have given us the ability and know-how to evaluate your PSAP’s current state, stay aligned with external mandates, identify the critical needs that must be met, install an industry-leading solution, and guide you through your transition. 

To speak with one of our experts about your adoption of Next Generation 911, contact Wilmac today. 

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