FirstNet is COMING, but what about the need for NG-9-1-1?

By James Rugg 3 min read

With the recent announcement of AT&T being awarded the prime contract by the First Responders Network Authority (FirstNet) to build the nation’s first National Public Safety Broadband Network (NPSBN), many public safety officials are now turning their attention to their NG-9-1-1 initiatives.

What is NG-9-1-1?

The National Emergency Number Association (NENA) defines NG-9-1-1 as follows:

A system comprised of hardware, software, data, and operational policies and procedures. Next Generation 911 (NG911) networks will replace the existing narrowband, circuit-switched 911 networks which carry only voice and very limited data. Currently, there are difficulties in supporting such things as text messages for emergencies, images, and video (including support for American Sign Language users), and easy access to additional data such as telematics data, building plans, and medical information over a common data network.

The following are two of the most significant requirements for NG9-1-1:

  • Support for data and communications needs for coordinated incident response and management
  • A secure environment for emergency communications

In addition, one of the biggest building blocks needed to implement NG-9-1-1 is the need for Emergency Services IP Networks (ESInets).

What are Emergency Services IP Networks (ESInets)?

ESInets are engineered, managed networks that use broadband, packet-switched technology capable of carrying voice plus large amounts of varying types of data using Internet protocols and standards.

They are intended to be multi-purpose and support extended Public Safety communications services in addition to 9-1-1.

NG9‐1‐1 assumes that ESInets are hierarchical (“network of networks” in a tiered design approach) to support local, regional, state, and national emergency management authorities.

As Directors of Communications within public safety entities look to advance communication capabilities in Public Safety Answering Points (PSAPs), they will need to consider the abovementioned factors. Moreover, highly reliable and resilient IP networks will need to be fully featured and standards-based in order to support the next generation of 9-1-1.

These networks must be built to operate with a smooth transition path between the current E9-1-1 switched networks and all IP-based technologies; and while taking into account the long-term support and product lifecycles required to meet the unique requirements of a Mission-Critical Grade Infrastructure.


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