NextGen 911 in the US was designed to allow for people to contact 911 agents via text as well as by phone, which for the past 40 plus years has been the only way to access them. But like most forms of technology, NextGen 911 continues to evolve at an incredible rate. In Canada, 911 dispatchers, law enforcement, fire, and EMS are all eagerly anticipating the next stage in NextGen 911 development.
Live on the Scene
The next phase in NextGen 911 is introducing the ability for a person on the scene of an incident to send images, videos, or even stream live video of what’s going on at the scene while they are on the phone with the dispatcher. Along with this, the caller will be able to send valuable information such as accessibility and medical needs.
Elizabeth Nguyen, Regina Police Service communications manager, said, ” 911 communications and emergency communications technology are ever-evolving, and we’re in kind of a revolutionary period right now.” Officers of the RPS say that the ability to see what they are getting into before they arrive on the scene will give them the chance to understand what they are going into and be better prepared.
NextGen 911 Is Not Without Its Problems
To be sure, having access to this type of imagery can prepare officers for what’s to come, and may also provide useful evidence, however this next phase of NextGen 911 does present its fair share of challenges. 911 dispatch centers are already working to capacity, adding video and imagery along with the call is only going to make it worse. Centers will have no choice but to hire more dispatchers and ensure everyone undergoes training in how to deal with the incoming images and video.
It will also mean that all 911 dispatch centers will need to install a host of new equipment to make the switch from an analog-based system to a stationary IP-based one. In Canada, the Canadian Radio-Television Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) has ordered that all 911 call service provider be upgraded to the IP-based technology no later than June 30th of 2020.
Texting for 911
Another significant advance in the NextGen 911 system is the ability for those with hearing or speech impediments, or for that matter anyone else, to contact the nearest 911 dispatch center via text message. This upgrade will make it possible for millions to access 911l, where once it was virtually impossible
With Canada already investing in the NextGen 911 to the fullest extent of all it has to offer, we can only hope that US-based 911 dispatch centers follow their example. The easier we continue to make it for everyone to access 911, the faster they can reach out to the appropriate emergency services personnel.