Next Generation Emergency Services must now be resilient across many medias

Resilience can be defined as consistent performance over time. Resilience for communication and data means achieving as close to 100% uptime as possible, regardless of whether hardware, software, network, human error, or natural disasters impact your systems. It is a requirement for doing business in today’s “on-demand” world especially in industry verticals where critical services exist.

Nowhere is the need for resilience more acute than with the provision of emergency services. Access for callers dialing 112, 999, 911, etc. needs to happen 100% of the time,  which means that there is no room for call blocking, and during a major event that may lead to a flood of calls these need to roll over from one PSAP (Public Safety Answering Point) to another if necessary.

APCO International, the world’s oldest and largest organization of public safety communications professionals writes:

“In a next-generation environment, PSAPs (Public Safety Answering Point) can transition premises-based call handling to distributed systems using ESInet connectivity to establish a robust and unified system among numerous PSAPs. This configuration enables a higher level of reliability by placing core systems at redundant hosted locations to protect operational continuity from local outages to large-scale disasters.” (APCO 43, p. 62).

But the world has changed. In many countries traditional copper-based voice communications are being replaced with fibre, wifi and the way we communicate has moved from the traditional wired phone beyond mobile to data-driven applications and even social media channels. Therefore, new networks and infrastructure are required and PSAPs must adapt to these new media channels and streams of information. This new infrastructure we refer to as an ESInet (Emergency Services IP Network).

Resilient ESInet design and implementation are absolutely critical to meet these needs along with the ability to address and accommodate future network requirements as consumer technology and behaviors change.

However, network resilience demands an understanding of a city or region’s unique requirements. The Next Generation Core Services (NGCS) operating on that ESInet must have state-wide awareness of the downstream entities it is servicing as they are usually realized by a network of networks. Attempting to deliver calls to an entity that cannot receive or service them may result in dropped or unanswered calls. When this occurs, Emergency Service communication handling has become unreliable.

More emphasis must therefore be placed on fully adopting NENA i3 functional interface standards for North America or at every functional element within the NG9-1-1(or 112 in Europe) ecosystem. Using proactive notifications of service, element, and security states allows the upstream NGCS ESInet to activate policies for alternate routes to ensure emergency calls for service are always delivered, always answered.  Together with best practice, ESInet design, and NGCS standard interfaces, next-generation emergency call resilience can be fully realized.

As cities and regions move towards upgrading and expanding services to the next generation Emergency Services network, they need to build a solution robust enough to manage the long-term expansion of the communication ecosystem is paramount. The risks from 21st-century threats, such as the impact of climate change, ensuring the continuity of critical services in an emergency, and the ability to recover more quickly from service outages, will further challenge the resilience of the city’s aging infrastructure for years to come.

Transitioning from the traditional analog voice delivery system, through a digital transformation, to one with next-generation capabilities will be driven by the deployment of an ESInet network. This next-generation IP network will serve as the enabling technology to ensure resilience and continuity of service delivery with the industry’s highest level of system performance.

Nowhere is the need for resilience more acute than with the emergency services. Join us for an innovation workshop where we will discuss Next Generation Emergencies service provision and collaboration, and help you get a better view of transitioning while maintaining existing levels of service.

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About Phillip R. Rotheram

Head of North America Sales, Public Safety
Phil Rotheram is a technology evangelist and currently leads the sales efforts within North America for public safety within Atos. He has been an active participant in the industry for more than 25 years and has worked on multiple standards with NENA and APCO. Phil has advised many States, Cities, and Counties in their Digitalization of Public Safety, including Puerto Rico, Cayman Islands, and more recently St. Francois County, Missouri, and the California Office of Emergency Services (CalOES). The CalOES project is the largest NG9-1-1 Digitization project ever, supporting a population of almost 40 million residents and 30 million 9-1-1 calls a year. His passions include artificial intelligence, machine learning, advanced wireless networks, and all things public safety.  

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