This article is part three of a six-part series on Next Generation 911
Part one | Part two | Part three | Part four | Part five | Part six
To determine what Next Generation 911 (NG 9-1-1) means for each public safety answering point (PSAP) is a bit complicated.
Currently, each PSAP in every community in every state is at a different level of readiness for NG 9-1-1. However, according to standards put into place regarding NG 9-1-1 by the National Emergency Number Association (NENA), every dispatcher and call taker is going to be expected to communicate with those in need of 9-1-1 emergency services in more ways than just by voice.
This change is similar to what it was like when technology moved away from rotary phones to push buttons phones to phones with no buttons at all. This is a change that reflects how communication has changed and how that impacts all parts of our lives.
Since the sending of text messages is something many if not most people do now, there is a growing conversation among people wondering if they can send a text to 9-1-1. These people also wonder why they can't send a photo message or a video message or a live stream of a crime happening to 9-1-1 now.
NG 9-1-1 makes it possible for everyone to send these types of messages to 9-1-1, and PSAPs will be able to receive these messages, it's just a matter of when.
As of October 2016, each PSAP in the country is working independently to become ready for NG 9-1-1.
PSAPs that are slightly ahead of the game are ready to accept text calls from the community, but this only accounts for approximately 15% of PSAPs nationwide.
Read part four of the series »
This article is part two of a six-part series on Next Generation 911
Part one | Part two | Part three | Part four | Part five | Part six
In the year 2020, public safety answering points (PSAPs) everywhere will finally get an answer to a burning question: When will Next Generation 911 (NG 9-1-1) services be ready?
2020 is the year when the National Emergency Number Association (NENA) is expected to determine a definitive date for each PSAP in the country to know what to do to be ready for NG 9-1-1 services.
The reason this initiative is such a lengthy undertaking is because NG 9-1-1 requires PSAPs to connect to new networks and install new digital 9-1-1 systems. NENA is also setting guidelines or standards so that PSAPs throughout the country will all follow similar protocols (however, each PSAP will have the ability to determine the manner in which they handle NG 9-1-1 messages).
While all standards and protocols are not yet in place, many PSAPs throughout the country are readying themselves in some fashion, especially in regards to text-to-911.
Text-to-911 is one of the first aspects of NG 9-1-1 that PSAPs are preparing to handle. It involves PSAPs implementing the capability of handling emergency text messages from the public. Later, PSAPs will be able to handle multi-media messages and live video streams from the public.
As of October 2016, the majority of states do report some level of readiness for NG 9-1-1, mostly in terms of handling text-to-911. However, that does not mean that all communities within these states have text-to-911 capabilities. In fact, fewer than 15% of PSAPs across the United States currently are able to accept text calls.
As time goes on, it is expected that more communities will be able to offer text-to-911 services and will then focus on the next phase of NG 9-1-1.
Read part three of this series »
This is part 1 of a 6-part series on Next Generation 911.
Part one | Part two | Part three | Part four | Part five | Part six
The manner by which the world communicates via phone has changed.
Recognizing this change, the National Emergency Number Association (NENA) developed Next Generation 911 (NG 9-1-1).
NG 9-1-1 is an initiative aimed at updating 9-1-1 emergency services to accommodate a growing wireless society and provide individuals with additional ways to reach out for emergency services. It allows for the public to communicate with 9-1-1 emergency services the same way most people communicate with each other today using text and multi-media messages on mobile phones.
In 2000, NENA first began to address the shift in how individuals communicate via phone and the need for the public to be able to talk to 9-1-1 emergency services in different ways. By 2003, NENA started to create standards for what NG 9-1-1 really meant.
The goal with NENA's initiative was to provide guidelines for public safety answering points (PSAPs), which would define requirements for PSAPs to follow. However, as of 2016, these requirements have not been fully defined.
Many PSAPs are preparing for NG 9-1-1 requirements by updating technology to enable the acceptance of voice, video, text and data sent over IP networks from various communication devices.
Communicating with 9-1-1 services using NG 9-1-1 technology will work the same way communication via smartphones does now for personal usage. However, instead of sending messages between friends, family, coworkers and the like, messages will be exchanged between the general public and emergency text call takers.
The goal of this technology is to make sure individuals can communicate with 9-1-1 services in a variety of ways. It is the goal of NENA to make sure public safety agencies have guidelines and standards to follow when adaptation of this technology becomes mandatory.
Read part two of this series »
There are a few ways to dispatch emergency services when a call for service comes in to a call center.
Without computer aided dispatch (CAD) software, dispatchers send transmissions via radio to first responders. These first responders use pen and paper to record the information or commit the details to memory. To get to the scene, they might use their own mobile phone’s routing features, or rely on their own knowledge of the area.
Then there are dispatchers who utilize CAD software and send a response, but are unaware of the unit’s estimated time of arrival (ETA). Once the unit is dispatched to a call for service, dispatchers calculate the ETA based on the unit’s location, speed and route.
What dispatchers and law enforcement officers have learned is that a much more efficient way to get to the scene is through proximity dispatching. With this method, dispatchers see where police, fire and EMS units are on a digital map in CAD software in real-time along with their continuously adjusting ETAs.
The continuously updated ETAs that proximity dispatching relies on are provided through the use of automatic vehicle location (AVL) functionality. This provides the most accurate information possible, so that dispatchers and first responders can see where all units are by looking at their digital maps either in the CAD mapping system or mobile data terminals in patrol cars, fire engines, or other emergency vehicles. Using this information, dispatchers determine which unit should be dispatched to ensure the quickest response.
AVL works by having each emergency vehicle equipped with global positioning system (GPS) functionality. By pre-programming GPS data into an agency’s mobile server, the mobile software located in police, fire and EMS vehicles communicates seamlessly back and forth to dispatch.
This same signal is sent to other units within the agency, all of which are able to view this information using the maps on their mobile devices.
AVL technology continuously sends latitude and longitude coordinates back to the CAD system so that dispatchers always know the location of a unit.
From devastating fires to terrorist attacks to fugitives on the run, the content from The Call shows the dedication of public safety personnel throughout the United States.
In the last six months, our most popular articles include:
These stories feature public safety officials from Snohomish County, Washington, Kankakee County, Illinois, and Greenbelt, Maryland. While each location is vastly different from the next, the common thread of serving the public is what is highlighted in each piece.
We are looking forward to sharing more public safety content in 2017!
Heinous crimes often times result in changes to the law. In 2010, one of those crimes happened in Kankakee County, Illinois.
A call came in to 9-1-1 regarding five bodies in a trailer. The dispatcher who took the call sent two deputies to the scene. The deputies rode together and traveled at 102 mph down rural roads to the alleged trailer. But they never made it.
The vehicle the deputies were traveling in went off the road when its tire blew out and rolled five times. Deputy David Stukenborg's spine was shattered in the accident and rendered him paralyzed from the chest down. The other officer suffered non-life threatening injuries.
According to Trent Bukowski, IT manager for the Kankakee County Sheriff's Office, the woman who made the call did so to anger her ex-boyfriend. She knew there were no bodies in the trailer and that no crime had been committed, but wanted her ex-boyfriend to get into trouble.
When the accident involving the deputies was discovered along with the fact that the call was bogus, authorities reacted quickly to discover who made the call.
Unfortunately, the call was placed by a disposable cell phone and was not trackable by traditional methods. However, there was one location where that number was previously tracked: The corrections system used by the Kankakee County Sheriff's Office.
Bukowski said the number from the disposable cell phone was entered into the corrections system when the woman who made the call visited her ex-boyfriend in the county jail. This visit took place months before when the two individuals were still a couple.
"Since our records and corrections systems share data automatically, it makes it easier for us in multiple ways," Bukowski said. "If we hadn't entered that number into the system when this woman visited, we might not have ever found out who made that call."
After the deputy was paralyzed responding to the prank call, the Illinois General Assembly put a new law into effect Jan. 1, 2011. The new law states that a person found guilty of making a false 9-1-1 call will be charged with a Class 4 felony. This crime is punishable by one to three years in prison and carries a $25,000 fine.
This is a stark contrast to the previous law, which classified the same crime as a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by a fine of up to $2,500 and one year in jail. The woman who made the prank call that paralyzed the officer was fined and served 364 days in the county jail.
In the spring of 2016, officers from the Greenbelt Police Department responded to a call citing shots fired in an apartment complex.
According to Sergeant Tim White, the initial information only included the fact that there was a man with a gun and he had fired shots from his balcony. When the address of the shooting was provided, officers were able to quickly identify more information about the situation by accessing premise history information in their records management system via their mobile data terminals.
White said this premise history information helped officers know they were responding to a situation involving a man with mental health issues.
"We were able to tell immediately what situations we'd had at the location previously, who the individual was, what he looked like, and who his closest relatives were," White said. "Our system helps us piece together a lot of this information, which ultimately helps us to resolve situations."
By identifying the shooter, they were able to isolate the individual apartment where the shooter was located within the complex and evacuate other residents quickly and safely.
Sergeant Tim White Discusses Shooting
White explained that if information sharing regarding the premises and the occupant had not been available in their public safety software, the situation could have been much worse.
"Without our public safety software, all of the information we knew going into this situation would have come after the fact," White said. "We would have to piece everything together, and in a dynamic scenario such as this, that can take a long time."
Discovering what makes someone become a mass murderer is something the science community has yet to identify. Many of these individuals share similar characteristics, but what makes someone actually commit these acts is hard to define.
Some of those characteristics include a feeling of rejection or an abusive past. Others include setting fires while young or hurting animals. Then there are some that always exhibited a lack of empathy or self-centeredness. But not everyone who experiences these traits or experiences becomes a killer.
Triggering events can sometimes be tied to those who enact a mass shooting. A workplace shooting can occur after an individual has been fired; a shooting in the household could be the result of a breakup.
Mass shootings are generally carried out by one individual. Incidences that involve two or more shooters leave even more questions about the reasons behind the shooting to be answered.
In the attack on the Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino in late 2015, nobody really knows what caused two individuals to kill 14 others.
What authorities do know is that the two shooters were a married couple. Syed Rizwan Farook and his wife Tashfeen Malik had left their baby in the care of a grandparent on the day of the attack. Farook was a U.S. citizen and Malik was a permanent resident. They met online initially, and eventually met face to face in Saudi Arabia when Farook came out for a visit.
Farook was a graduate of California State University and worked for the Inland Regional Center.
Together, the couple owned a Lexus, had recently attended a baby shower that coworkers had thrown for them, and seemed like an everyday family.
It is thought that Farook became self-radicalized and professed allegiance to the terrorist organization ISIS. It's unclear if the two shared ideological beliefs independently from each other, or if their ideologies grew once they got together.
While it's difficult to know what drove Farook and Malik to kill 14 individuals, it's important to know how they were identified and stopped.
According to Chief Jarrod Burguan of the San Bernardino Police Department, during the investigation that began as soon as law enforcement arrived on the scene, a witness to the shooting suggested that officers consider Farook as a suspect.
This tip was made based on the fact that Farook had been attending the training, but left at some point during and was no longer around. Farook's information was entered into the public safety records management software system utilized by the San Bernardino PD and officers were able to determine his address.
Another tip came in saying that the shooters had gotten away in a black SUV. When this information was made available to the public, a community member called 9-1-1 to report a suspicious SUV. That caller had gone so far as to memorize the license plate number of the SUV.
Investigators with the San Bernardino PD were able to use their public safety software yet again to look up this plate. From there, they determined that the SUV was a rental vehicle and that Farook had rented it.
When Farook and Malik were located not long afterwards, they were killed by police during a shootout.
This tragic incident serves as further evidence that although clues are not always prevalent before an attack, solving crimes and protecting the public is possible with a combination of data, technology and human instinct.
To combat mass shootings and gun violence, law enforcement officers and public safety personnel throughout the country have the opportunity to participate in various training procedures each year.
These trainings focus on terrorism, active shooters, mass shootings and other related topics so that both civilian employees and sworn officers are able to perform safely and effectively during any given situation.
This type of training was especially beneficial for those working for the San Bernardino Police Department when they dealt with a terrorist attack December 2, 2015.
According to Chief Jarrod Burguan, many of his civilian employees and sworn officers had been trained in dealing with an active shooter. This training came from not only planned courses, but from the day to day realities of working in public safety.
"With the crime rate in our city and numerous shootings per week, our officers were well equipped to deal with the events of the terrorist attack," police dispatch supervisor Annie Teall said. "What happened on the day of the attack was a large-scale version of what first responders deal with on a daily basis."
In spite of the training that comes with experience, Teall said that she, along with several others in the department, took part in a tactical dispatcher class to enhance their skillset. This training helped those working in dispatch to become more familiar with field operations during hostage negotiations and SWAT callouts.
"With the tactical dispatcher training, it was easier to anticipate what the field units were going to try to accomplish while on site the day of the terrorist attack," Teall said.
According to the San Bernardino Police Chief Jarrod Burguan, this on-the-job and additional training helped all those involved in protecting the public during the terrorist attack to perform to the best of their abilities.
"Protecting the public is what we do," Burguan said. "Training is imperative to keeping both the public and officers safe no matter what the circumstances are."
The United States averages one mass shooting per day.
A mass shooting is defined as an event that results in at least four people being injured or killed from gun violence, excluding the shooter. *While some gun-violence tracking agencies argue about the definition of a mass shooting (some do not include incidences where individuals are wounded and not killed), this blog includes any shooting where four or more individuals were injured or killed.
These shootings happen in areas all over the country, from densely populated cities to average-sized communities in middle America. They happen in churches, schools, office buildings, in the home, and in any number of places where people gather.
The shooters and victims include individuals of all backgrounds, socioeconomic classes, religions, races and political ideologies.
Even with the random chaos in which these shootings occur, some interesting statistics have emerged. According to Mass Shooting Tracker, all of the shootings that resulted in four or more dead from 2009 to mid-2015 showed the following:
What is interesting about the statistics involving mass shootings is that these incidents have not actually increased that dramatically since the '70s and '80s.
The perceived increase in prevalence stems from the intense 24-hour media coverage they receive and the widespread dissemination of news through the Internet.
Regardless of whether these shootings are becoming more frequent, those working in public safety are trained to handle situations involving an active shooter. This training highlights the lengths public safety personnel go to in order to protect and serve their communities.
This dedication to serving the public can be seen with both civilian staff members and sworn officers in agencies all throughout the country.
Automation Streamlines Processes
Multi-Jurisdictional Data Sharing
Using New World Public Safety Software in One of the Fastest Growing Cities in Arizona
See all videos »