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OPERATOR: Good day ladies and gentlemen and welcome to the National 911 Program, "State of 911" Webinar.
At this time all participants are in a listen only mode. Later we will conduct a question
and answer session and instructions will follow at that time. If anyone should require
operator assistance, please press star then the zero key on your touchtone phone. As a reminder, this
conference call is being recorded. I would now like to introduce your host for today's conference,
Colby Rachfal, you may begin. COLBY RACHFAL: Hello and welcome to the fifth installment of the "State of 911"
Webinar series being presented by the National 911 Program. My name is Colby Rachfal
and I am support for the program. This webinar series was designed to offer 911
stakeholders information about ongoing federal and state 911 and NG911 projects and
provide real experiences and best practices from early adopters about the NG911
transition process currently underway across the country. Like I mentioned before, this is the fifth
installment of our bimonthly series. Each webinar consists of a presentation from a federal level
and a state level 911 stakeholder with each being followed by a 10 minute question
and answer session. At the end of the event, if there is time left over we will open the floor again to all
questions. Following the event, a recording of the presentation along with the slides
will be posted to the National 911 Program's website at www.911.gov. You can also go there to
find information on past and future events as well as to learn more about the National 911 Program.
We will begin today's event with the presentation from National 911 Program
Coordinator, Laurie Flaherty and Alexandria Virginia Police Department Deputy Chief Eddie Reyes.
Ms. Flaherty and Deputy Chief Reyes will be discussing next generation 911 for law enforcement.
Following the Q&A with Ms. Flaherty and Deputy Chief Reyes, Ms. Christy Williams, Chief 911 Program Officer
at the North Central Texas Council of Governments, will be presenting on the recent text-to-911 pilot and best
practices for NG911 implementation. Now I'd like to hand it off to Ms. Laurie Flaherty,
Coordinator for the National 911 Program. LAURIE FLAHERTY: Thank you Colby and welcome everyone
and thank you for joining us today. It is my sincere pleasure to share
this virtual podium with Deputy Chief Eddie Reyes from the Alexandria Virginia
Police Department. Just a little about him, he has been with the Alexandria Police Department
since 1990 and has risen through the ranks to become commander of the city's emergency
communications center. He has a lot of other responsibilities with the Alexandria PD
including technology, data, training and security and in his spare time he is also
a very active member of the International Association of Chiefs of Police. He has just recently
given a presentation on NG911 at IACP's LEIM Conference in Scottsdale, Arizona. The LEIM being the law
enforcement and information management section of IACP. He is also IACP's representative to the
Transportation Safety Advancement Group that I will be talking about in just a couple of minutes.
The goal of this webinar series is to provide you with valuable information
you can use. We connect the dots between people who are making NG911 happen and those
of you who want to make it happen in your communities. For those of you who
aren't familiar with the National 911 Program, it was created by Congress as
a point of coordination for 911 activities among all 911 stakeholders
and also to provide information that can be used to improve the 911 system.
We do that by developing a variety of resources and tools that can be used by folks like you
to plan and implement NG911. Things like this webinar series or other tools that we have either produced
or collected, things like guidelines for state legislative language, model state 911 plans,
grant information and benchmarking data. We are regularly adding new and valuable information to
our website at 911.gov. Today we're going to talk about what we have done recently to help engage first
responders in supporting NG911, specifically what we are doing to actively engage
leaders in law enforcement. Today, Deputy Chief Reyes and I will cover three main topics.
How law enforcement can be more actively involved in the transition to NG911, what efforts are
underway to reach out to law enforcement and finally, we will share the details of our outreach support which
addresses the benefits that NG911 will have for both law enforcement and the public they serve.
The What's Next Forum - we're going to start by talking about how this got started three years ago.
There is a group called the Transportation Safety Advancement Group. They are a group
of academics, researchers, industry folks and representatives from public safety and their
mission is to promote transportation safety and efficiency through optimized connectivity
among travelers, vehicles, infrastructure and public safety providers. We use that
group to conduct what we call the What's Next Form and we invited representatives
from the four disciplines you see on this slide - law enforcement, fire, emergency medical services
and transportation operations and we told them how 911 is changing to
NG911, to a network that can transmit digital data in a variety of forms directly
from callers to emergency responders. And we asked them a question, we asked them, what do you want from this
system? What data will help you do your job safer, more effectively or efficiently
and how do you want to access that data? The four groups produced a collective report that answers
those questions. This effort was funded by the Research and Innovative Technology
Administration which is also within the U.S. Department of Transportation and it was co-managed by
RITA and the National 911 Program. If you're interested in either the TSAG or their final report I
suggest you Google TSAG and there you will access information about the group as well
as that final report. Deputy Chief Reyes was the IACP rep to the TSAG and together we
worked to bring the voice of law enforcement into the NG911 discussion.
You can see from this list there were a number of first responder groups
that were involved in the What's Next Forum. It was developed to make NG911 more
valuable to all first responders by getting their input on how 911 can help them achieve their
own missions. This was one of the first times these first responders came together
to discuss their role in shaping the future of 911. As you can see from the list there are a lot
of groups that are standing up to identify NG911 as an important issue that needs to be addressed.
This created a commitment among members of these emergency responder groups as well as the stakeholder
organizations they represent to engage in a collaborative process that makes sure
that we get the right information to the right people at the right time.
Why is this so important? This slide shows in a graphic way what's going on in the United States
with regards to the implementation of NG911. It came from the National Emergency
Number Association. It is a map of the results of a survey that NENA conducted of the states to
track how much progress they are making toward NG911. As you can see from the color coding on
this map, this progress is going on as we speak. Six states have state level
implementation going on, 23 states are doing some kind of preparation work at the state level and with very few
exceptions, every state is doing something either in the planning or implementing
realm. This is not something that is happening in the future, it's something happening as we speak.
Each state is going to be doing it differently. For example, the state of Vermont is doing it at
the state level. Christy Williams who is presenting today will be talking about how Texas is doing it at a
regional level, but regardless of how it's being implemented, NG911 will require a
lot of coordination among all the first responders including police and sheriff, it will include fire,
EMS, transportation, public utilities, service providers in the public and private
sector. And law enforcement is one of the right groups to take part in that conversation.
After the TSAG report was completed the National 911 Program continued to work with people like Deputy
Chief Reyes to support efforts to bring more information and awareness
about NG911 specifically to law enforcement.
We chose law enforcement as the first stakeholder group for a couple of reasons.
Clearly,law enforcement is one of the largest end-users of the 911 system
but law enforcement also manages more than half of the PSAPs nationwide.
So if they don't buy into it, it isn't going to happen.
According to a recent FCC report of PSAPs, nearly 65% of all PSAPs are managed by law enforcement
and that gives them a significant opportunity to be involved and be supportive of the changes
going on and updating of the current 911 system to a digital Internet Protocol-based network.
But while 911 function is often housed within law enforcement and law enforcement may be
involved in managing the 911 system, their familiarity with NG911 is sometimes limited.
The capabilities of NG911 and how it will change information flow from the public to
emergency responders is expected to help law enforcement a great deal. But law enforcement
leaders may not currently be aware of that. We undertook a conscious effort to engage
them in this discussion. 911 has always been a hub between the caller and emergency responders.
Initially the evolution of 911 was driven by the public side, by the caller side and by the
evolution of communication devices being used by the public to reach 911. Now it is being also driven
from the opposite side with the formation of the public safety broadband network it's being pushed
from the emergency responder side as well in order to keep up with both
sides of the hub. Law enforcement is actively involved in that process and the work
being done by entities like the FirstNet Board and the state and local
governments will eventually be a part of building an emergency communication system
that interfaces with 911 to bring new forms of digital information directly from
911 callers to responders in the field. So it's more important than ever that as FirstNet is being
established in the states that entities like law enforcement understand and
support the integration of the 911 network and the emergency responder network so at
the end of the day what we end up with is a seamless transfer of useful information
directly from the caller to 911 and onto emergency responders. If you want that photo
of the bank robber to get to the patrol car in real time we have to build
one seamless system. Using the TSAG's work as a basis, what we have done is further
outreach and coordination with both the International Association of Chiefs of Police
and the National Sheriffs Association and Deputy Chief Reyes is one of the folks who worked
with the National 911 Program to develop an outreach campaign to engage law enforcement in NG911 issues
and hopefully increase the amount of coordination between law enforcement and 911.
Both IACP and NSA have been very supportive in their efforts to educate
and engage leaders in law enforcement. They are They're doing things like adopting
formal resolutions within their organizations. They are designating committees to do work
on an ongoing basis and they are reaching out to their membership to make sure
they are aware of the transition process as an important issue for law enforcement
to consider. It's important for law enforcement to know that NG911 is an issue with
resulting benefits that reach far beyond the PSAP, but there are benefits for law enforcement
in the implementation of NG911. It's important for them to know that now is the time for
discussion, for proactive discussion about how law enforcement will receive, use and store data that is made
available by NG911. It's important for law enforcement to understand that the greatest
benefits of NG911 will be realized only through interdisciplinary coordination and
sharing of information. The collaboration that can go on is directly
related to the success of the potential that could be reached by NG911. Clearly
NG911 is not just a technical issue but it is also an operational and cultural
issue and those are all issues we put together in this campaign. We are moving on several
different fronts. We're communicating key points through a number of ways. A 16 page
insert publication about NG911 that was written by law enforcement for law enforcement.
A couple of articles, actually multiple articles in Sheriff or Police Chief magazines, conference presentations
and the inclusion of NG911 on key committee agendas with regular up dates from members
of those committees within IACP and NSA. Why should you care about these resources? We hope you will see these
tools as something you can use to engage law enforcement leaders in our community in the discussion about
NG911. They have been vetted for your use and developed by law enforcement for law enforcement and have
the support of IACP and NSA and have been used successfully by law enforcement and 911. They are here for your
availability and use. Through our efforts so far, we have reached more than 100,000 law enforcement leaders
including Sheriffs and Poice Chiefs across the United States.
Just to give you one example in the state of Michigan, they have used the publication as one of their tools
in bringing people together to figure out the system plan for NG911 in the state of Michigan
They're considering formation of a governance structure that will allow and require the state
911 office and broadband interoperability office to work together to make sure they end up with a
seamless system. They presented their model at the NSA conference just held in Charlotte in
June and they have used the publication to highlight in a completely non-technical
way the benefits that NG911 would have for law-enforcement and the public they serve.
I invite you to think about how your agency might use the publication as Deputy Chief Eddie Reyes
gives us the details of its content. Eddie, the floor is yours.
OPERATOR: Pardon me, this is the operator, I am not showing Eddie dialed in.
LAURIE FLAHERTY: Okay,let me pitch him for then. I apologize, he's either having technical difficulties or
has become unavoidably detained. Let me tell you a little bit in detail about the publication we produced
with the assistance of IACP and NSA reps. It is a 16 page publication that was designed as I
said and written with the law enforcement audience in mind. It was inserted into
the May issues of both Sheriffs Magazine and Police Chief Magazine and each of those have
a readership total of at least 50,000 folks. We were able to reach a lot of people with
this publication. What's in it? It was divided into several general categories of information. It is
all non-technical in nature and focusing on the benefits of NG911 both
for law enforcement and the public they serve. You can see on this slide the questions
and answers this publication provides. What it is that NG911 is and why they should care about it.
Five ways NG911 will improve the law enforcement agency and the big-money question, the
dos and don'ts of NG911 and a list of resources in terms of people and organizations
that they should know. EDDIE REYES: Laurie, can you hear me?
LAURIE FLAHERTY: Yes. EDDIE REYES: I don't know what happened with the bridge connection Laurie, I've been on
the entire time and heard your entire presentation, it was some kind of technical difficulty.
LAURIE FLAHERTY: Why don't you pick up where I left off. We are currently on the slide with the 2005 and 2013.
EDDIE REYES: Thank you. Before I get started, welcome to everybody. I want to say thank you, not only to you,
but the entire staff over at the National 911 Program for making
webinars such as this happen. This information we are putting out, especially to the law enforcement sector,
is so important. I was honored when the IACP selected me to be the member on the Transportation
Safety Advancement Group and for me it has been a long tradition of serving in the
911 environment that I think makes it such an honor for me to serve on this thing along
with Sergeant Dan Dytchkowskyj from Erie County New York Sheriff's office.
Dan and I have been representing the law
enforcement sector on the Transportation Safety Advancement Group and I believe our outreach
efforts to law enforcement are going to pay dividends. As you indicated in
one of your earlier slides, law enforcement controls and manages a lot of the PSAPs across
the country but unfortunately given our culture and our tradition of not being very accepting of new
patterns, trends, we are usually the last ones to come to grips with new
technology. I think Dan and I have been serving fairly well on TSAG in reaching out
to law enforcement communities exactly like you said, blowing the horn of NG911 and now I'm getting
ready to take you through some of the hardships and some technical issues a PSAP and
especially a law enforcement-managed PSAP can potentially encounter when they start to deploy this type of
technology. I thought this picture was very fitting because as technology continues
to change the world that we live in, a simple news photo from five years ago to just earlier
this year brings this into focus. Visuals like this help everyone understand how much
of an impact technology has had and how quickly this is happening. The top photo
is the announcement of Pope Benedict in 2005. As you can see from the photo not very many
people had handheld devices at that point. If you fast-forward two years later to just this year when
the announcement of Pope Francis was announced, then you see the tremendous difference.
The reason I like this photo is this is no different than any corner of any American
major city. When you have a major incident that happens at a major intersection in any
one of America's cities, this is what happens. Everybody pulls out their cell phones
and everybody's dialing 911 at the same time and everybody's trying to capture the incident and this is
what we are dealing with today. What you see here in this picture capitalizes the
importance of why NG911 is here. We need to embrace it because the public that we
serve is capturing lots of data, very valuable data, and somehow we need to start receiving that.
I think this slide is fitting because as we know we need to change in the way we accept and
provide emergency response communication because the public has changed the way they communicate.
It is in the publics interest, and they will begin demanding this change soon
I can tell you from almost any meeting I go to, they are always asking
why can't I text to your PSAP or send a photo and they just don't understand all the hardships
involved on the backend to make something like that happen. This chart shows
a couple of facts I found interesting. 50% of today's market of cell phones are
now smart phones. They're voice, data, video, calendars, cameras, they are everything. So much so
a lot of people don't have land lines anymore. They are that reliable, that robust and
that is a real challenge for us at the PSAPs, that we don't have landline technology
because when we were getting a 911 call from a caller
and the line went dead, we immediately knew that person was at 123 Main Street, Apartment 102.
Now when that wireless call goes bad, for whatever reason - battery, against their will,
or whatever the reason is, it is very difficult sometimes to isolate that person as
to their exact location. As you can see smart phone use has grown 38% just in the
last year. From 2011 to 2012, smart phone usage grew 38%. That is a significant leap
in the growth of smartphones. Today, two out of three, when you talk to the industry and the vendors,
they will tell you that two out of three new phone purchases are in the form of cell phones.
This slide is also very telling because this is the public we are serving. When I need to
call my son or my daughter to come and have dinner, if I yell at them or if I call them on their cell
phone they won't answer but if I send a text and say that dinner is ready, they will quickly run
down and they will come and eat. This is just the public we are serving today.
The 13-17 year olds are texting all the time about everything. Those are also the people
that are calling 911 sometimes. As you can see, the numbers drop off based on age. That charge,
I believe in the future, is going to start to level off and you're going to see the older generation.
My mother and some grandmothers included, are already starting to text and pick up on that pattern and trend
sooner rather than later, a text into 911 is going to become the new norm in reality in
the law-enforcement environment and we need to start to be ready to embrace that.
This as we see it is going to be an enhancement for officer safety. As Laurie talked
about earlier about the national broadband network and the public safety network
trust coming on, what we envision here will happen in the future is when locations
such as a bank get robbed, that information will be sent in to the PSAP via some
landline Internet connection and that information will then be sent back out to the law enforcement
vehicle and assist the person responding, the law enforcement personnel responding.
Here as you can see the simulation in the middle picture is the officer driving to the scene of the bank
robbery and getting a very good description of what the person looks like. I can't tell you how valuable this
will be. This simulates a landline connection, but this is the type of information a wireless device would
also be able to capture and send back to the first responders.
This as I see it is the most powerful slide for law enforcement and that is
the availability of instantaneous information. This slide will tell you is a victim
is being robbed of her purse. She is quickly capturing a picture of the suspect as he is running
away in sending that to the PSAP and the PSAP is able to send that to the responding
officers. I can't tell you how many times as a first responder I have probably drove past a suspect in
route to the victim not knowing what the person looks like other than a vague description, white male,
blue jeans, white t-shirt, and I passed 15 of those on the way there.
Now I will have a articulable photograph on my mobile data terminal as I'm responding to the scene and
making apprehensions in case closures is much more successful for the law enforcement environment.
I don't know about you all, but in our region, there have been many examples where people
have been held against their will. In one extreme case the victim was placed in the
trunk of her vehicle, held against her will, driven around the Capital Beltway and she actually had a phone
and was calling by voice but unfortunately she couldn't tell us where she
was at because she couldn't see, but that is a daily occurrence, people need to call the police need to call
first responders but unfortunately they can't because they are either hiding under
a bed or their abuser is nearby and the best way to get help is by silently sending
in a text. This simulates a situation in which a female is being attacked by
a male suspect, is taking some cover and texting in because if she spoke she
would give away her location in this way response can come even though there is no
voice being transmitted. This is going to be a significant enhancement
and a significant safety for the public once this capability arrives at our PSAPs because this is a
pretty common occurrence. I know we are here talking about the law enforcement environment today,
but I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge the huge benefit this would bring to the medical and
the fire and EMS communities as well. Having served in our PSAP here for a number of years, I can
tell you some PSAPs probably still rely on TTY from the community that we serve
in the medical field, when they could not talk. Well now, every single cell phone becomes a TTY machine
and that is the value of this type of technology. Instead of having expensive
proprietary-based technology at home and when you move that have to have it reinstalled
and so on and so forth, basically every single cell phone becomes a TTY device so any time a
person has a medical emergency they cannot summon by voice, they can very quickly summon for
medical assistance by text, photo or video. This is going to be a huge advancement and enhancement to the
medical community as well. I think for us in the law enforcement community having better
situational awareness is going to be the global picture. As we know, everyone today
has a cell phone and in our case here, if you poll some of my people here at work,
most of them have two or three devices on them. They have a department issue, a personal cell
phone and a tablet. Situational awareness is going to become much more realistic
now because people out there in the community just have multiple devices on them at all times. They are
ready to send this information. This happens regularly. This is simulating a 911 call in which a person
is witnessing a drunk driver, in this case, rather than calling it in, they actually take a photograph of the
suspect vehicle, they send it back to the PSAP and then the PSAP is able to send it to the
patrol car. Obviously the officer in this particular photo didn't really need a picture of the car because
the car has already been involved in a crash as a result of simulated drunk driving.
In the event the car had not crashed, at least now the officer
would have been able to get an eye view of exactly what the vehicle
looked like. Again, the possibilities with this technology are endless.
These are just a few examples. Redundancy and interoperability, one of the things we focus on is how do we
get the same information to multiple first responders without duplicating
our efforts. In this situation, the scenario being described here is a scenario where you have a weather-
related emergency, a natural event in which you need to get information
out to multiple platforms. In the event your primary platform fails, you
would have redundancy as another capability here and I can tell you during events
like this it is usually when your 911 circuits get clogged up and people calling
in usually start to get busy signals. In this situation here, if that were the case you could
transition some of the call volume load from voice to text and still continue to get the
response out and in that platform when you have a text-based format, rather than
have to dispatch it to the four-five disciplines you see up there, you quickly copy and
paste into one format and you send it out and you're quickly able to send it out the same
information to multiple responders working in the same situation. As I see it, it will be able to help you with
redundancy and interoperability when you're working a major incident with
multiple disciplines. I wanted to share some of our statistics here just to validate
some of the things I have said already. This is our call data for last year.
This shows you how last year we took in approximately 367,000 total calls for service,
that was both emergency and non-emergency calls. Of those, 91,000 were actual 911 calls and that was
also both landline and wireless. As you can see, the third line is what I wanted you to focus
on and that was of the 91,000 911 calls, 67,000 of those were 911 so you can see clearly in our
jurisdiction the transition from landline to wireless is very evident by the number of 911
calls we receive and a lot of those callers I can assure you had captured
photographs and video and probably could have sent us additional supporting information via
text had we had the capability. Of those, the fourth line is another very telling line for
us because of the total 367,000 calls for service that we received last
year, 51,000 of those actually turned into a call for service. What is alarming about that
number is you can tell we're only dispatching about 51,000 times per year from the total
volume of 367,000 and for someone that's not in the PSAP environment, they would ask, that
is got to be wrong, that's such a huge difference, that validates the point of a single incident can
generate sometimes up to 20 calls from 20 different observers of the
the same incident and that is why you have so many calls from
the same incident and why the total number is so big and we are only actually dispatching
on about 51,000 calls. What are the barriers? These are some of the barriers as I've been
working in some of the groups, not only locally here in Alexandria but in the region here
in the National Capitol Region and on some of the national forums.
The barriers I have been able to identify are the
commercial providers not really being up to speed yet. They are still working out
their standards and their technology and their hardware to bring NG911 into fruition. A lot of them
will say we're ready to go, we're ready to deploy but when you're talking to them it is virtual where,
it is not ready to go in they're talking really first-quarter 15, first-quarter 16 type of scenario. The
commercial providers are still trying to catch up with this technology. At the PSAP level we are
struggling to deploy our emergency services IP network because it will take a robust
network to handle this type of volume so at the PSAP level we're trying to implement
our hardware and software as well. I cannot say enough about staffing. There's a lot of numbers that have been
thrown out there between some different groups, anywhere from 20-30%, an increase in
staffing because once this type of capability and technology is deployed, your
call volume is going to increase. Most PSAPs, even without this tecnology are understaffed so this is going
continue to be a barrier of why some organizations and municipalities will say we don't
want to do NG911 simply because of the staffing issue. Last but not least,
another barrier, this is a small one that came up in one of our groups,
something as simple as learning text language. If you have ever texted
with a young person, they usually talk in acronyms and abbreviations
and letters. Can you imagine getting a text for help from a 17-year-old
in the manner they are used to talking. It's just going to be like learning a foreign
language. It is little things like that we all have to take into
consideration as we move forward with this type of technology.
If you're looking into doing this and you are a law enforcement agency,
these are some of the things we have been telling Chiefs and Sheriffs across the
country, as Sergeant Dan Dytchkowskyj from Erie County and I travel, and talk to Chiefs and Sheriffs
and department heads we tell them that
if you're going to be looking at this, and we very much encourage them to
start embracing this technology, but if you're going to do this, start doing it as a region.
If you're in the middle of the most remote county in Texas, more likely you're
surrounded by additional jurisdictions and municipalities that you have to do work with on a regular basis, it
would do you absolutely no good to try to deploy this on your own. Meet and discuss the technology
as a group. Deploy as a region and do a phased approach. Focus on text-to-911
first and then photo and video and then focus on getting that technology out to the vehicles.
I think one of the failures for some of the deployments have been some people wanted
to do too much too fast. Here I can tell you our approach has been very much a phased
approach. We're going to start focusing on text to PSAPs first and get that stabilized
and working and move onto the next phase but we're not going to try to do things to all people at
the same time. The other thing, all the carriers are not ready to deploy this type of technology.
One of the civil liability issues I have identified has been if you deploy
with just a few of the carriers that are ready to deploy, the perception in the community
will be all smart phones will have this capability so when someone is trying to get
help and they think their carrier is NG911 compliant and it's not, I can foresee some
civil liability, coming out of that. So, in a synchronized coordinated manner working in the
region, also working with the carriers to make sure they are all ready to deploy before you embark on this
technology. The general consensus amongst PSAP managers is a web browser approach is the
best approach because it provides the best functionality the for the floor and the NG911 environment.
There are different formats and standards out there. I can just tell you standards is going
to be a big issue so just make sure as you're talking in the region that you consider all the
different approaches and standards and the web browser approach. Our region happens to
have the best amount of traction. What can we as law enforcement do? For those of you
that are listening from the law enforcement environment, help us embrace the change. I speak
very much from the heart when I tell you that cops hate change but this is one
change we need to embrace, we need to become agents of change. If you are a decision-maker,
in your municpality, in your region, just start to embrace this, it's
coming whether or not you want it. The best thing you can do is to start to move forward.
Start to promote it within your municipalities, start within your own organization.
One of the things I try to do internally, any time I get the opportunity I talk
about NG911 at staff meetings. Some people are still in disbelief it is coming
so I try to promote it internally as much as I can and within the city. Share information and resources.
For those of you working with us on this issue, please continue to share the publications that
have been mentioned and identified. Don't reinvent the wheel. Point people in that
direction of some of the publications. Most elected officials don't have more than five to 10
minutes to give you on this type of topic. If you put a publication like that in their hands they're
are more likely to understand it later on than if you discuss it with them. As I said, continue to participate
in regional efforts to plan and deploy this technology, because only in a regional approach
will you be successful. LAURIE FLAHERTY: Thank you so much. I appreciate everything you have done
both on this project and your participation on the webinar. What can the participants do? We hope you
can use the information and the tools developed to engage leaders in law
enforcement in your own community and the discussion on NG911. If you want to
download a digital copy of the publication or access other resources, visit 911.gov.
Just as a preview, we will have a very short video available later on this summer that
in a non-technical way will explain the benefits of NG911, so look for
that. I think in the interest of time we're going to hold questions. We are running
a bit over but we do have the ability to run over the hour. We're going to turn it
directly over to Christy Williams right now. Christy is the Chief 911 Program Officer for the North Central
Texas Council of Governments and Christy will be sharing the experiences of her region in terms of
implementing NG911. So Christy, the floor is yours.
CHRISTY WILLIAMS: Thank you Laurie. I am with the North Central Texas Council of Government.
This shows you a little bit about our 911 region. We are a regional system, we cover
14 counties surrounding the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex. We have 44 public safety answering points,
or PSAPs, and the most unique thing about our region is it is large.
Our region is larger than the geography of nine individual states. It is 12,800
square miles. Our population is 6.8 million but our 911
program only covers 1.6 million of those. Some of our 44 PSAPs are Metropolitan and
some of them are extremely rural two-position PSAPs. This is a map of our region, and if we drove to each of
our 44 PSAPs and just waved, didn't stop, we would travel almost 700 miles and
it would take us almost 17 hours if there was no traffic in the Metroplex on that day.
It is a big region and the people within the region are very different.
As we move toward the next generation 911 solution, we have to make sure to meet the
needs of the diversified public. Our program provides all that is 911 to our
citizens and our PSAPs, however we do not cover things such as CAD and radio and we do
not employ the 911 telecommunicators. We're just taking care of the 911 system.
Our staff, we are blessed to have a fabulous staff in our 911 program. Since we started our next generation
implementation we have done a lot of staff changes and today we are broken
up in a technical team and an operational team with just a couple of us working on
the administrative side, and that's been a very effective change to our staff.
Being a regional system, when I started here, and I did start with COG in 1991
before we had implemented 911 services. I got in on the ground floor and was in
charge of public education and training back then and I can remember thinking
what a burden it was to be regional system because my counterparts throughout
the state and throughout the country had one PSAP to deal with and they could do things one way it
just seemed so much easier. Fast forwarding 20 plus years, I just feel so happy I am part of a 911
regional system because as the Deputy Chief mentioned, islands are not the way of
NG911, NG911 is designed to show benefits through a regional system. I am pleased
to be part of a regional system. I know I have great purchasing power and my staff doesn't
have to wear 18 different hats. I can have them specialized and they can become subject
matter experts in their area of expertise and I have a lot more resources and
knowledge base than other people have the ability to have on staff.
I know we are in a really good place. This is the reason we are able to be early
adopters in providing the most up-to-date system for our citizens. When we started our planning for NG back
in 2007, you can't just become an early adopter because it is a cool thing to
do and it's difficult to sell your administrators and your elected officials on the
widgets in the pie in the sky. You really have to talk about why you need a new system today.
The limitations we had in 2007 was that we didn't have connectivity with those 44
PSAPs so we did have cases where PSAPs were in the same city and if they needed
to transfer a call to the other PSAP or Sheriff and Police Department,
there would be issues because of lata boundaries or tandem boundaries and so they
might not be able to get all of the 911 information transferred with the call.
We needed the connectivity and transferability. We also identified, although we do
have the TTYs and the training, that we have a lack of equal access for the deaf and hard
of hearing community. We noticed in times of disaster our contingency options were
very limited. Our office is very strong into the TERT community - Telecommunications Emergency Response
Taskforce. We have a staff member that's one of the co-chairs, nationally and a state coordinator, but
we realize that was us sending people into the emergency,
into the disaster area and while it is the best we can do right now in the
grand scheme of things, we want to do better. I think probably our biggest driver
and our biggest limitation in 2007 and perhaps still today is that we are not meeting the public
expectations. You saw the pictures earlier that showed how our public has changed.
The public has changed, the private industry has changed, technology has changed,
911 has not changed and so their expectations are not being met today. This is a timeline of the different
things that we have gone through starting with master planning. Planning is the
most important part of getting ready for next generation 911 and we started
those exercises and got a plan and migration path back in 2007. We started releasing RFPs
We started with an IP MPLS network and IP equipment and implemented those systems in 2008. Something horrible
happened in that first six months we had the new IP system, we had more outages and several systemwide
outages then we had in the preceding 17 or 18 years our system had been running at that time.
That was significant. Instead of forging forward, we spent the next two years designing improvements for the
integrity of our system so we would not have outages. We worked with the vendors, we worked with
our technical team, we worked with consultants. We did everything in our power to make things
better because we knew we couldn't take another step until we fixed the problems
we were seeing. That is just the leading edge part where things get tough and you have to work through things.
Our system has a great deal of integrity today. In 2011, we released our RFP for Next Gen ESInet
and the core services that go with that. We implemented that over the following
two years and now have full implementation of our ESInets, we have a new MPLS system network.
In January, we moved on to our first implementation of text-to-911 with Verizon wireless
in one county and I will talk a little bit more about that. We also have been working on a backup
network, and in our case a wireless network. Our configuration, because we have 44 PSAPs although
the vendors told us we could handle everyone with one host and remote system, we didn't
feel comfortable with that because of the potential of systemwide outages, so to
mitigate our vulnerabilities, we ended up with a system where we have four mirrored
systems which means we have eight hosts. One of our lessons leanred, we started out with those hosts in four
of our PSAPs and and we again had multiple outages with things that were beyond our control.
They were local issues, so part of our making the system better was moving our host systems to data
centers. We do have two data centers geographically diverse - four hosts in one, four mirrored hosts in the
other one so that we have not only redundancy but diversity as well.
All 44 of our PSAPs remote off of those hosts out of the data centers and we have
a lab and we also have a training PSAP that we divided into two PSAPs so that we can test and do transfers.
Everything is connected, everything is dynamic. If there is an outage today,
our PSAPs shouldn't even see it because the mirrored host would immediately take over. We do have a
great deal of survivability in case a remote loses any connectivity that they can still operate.
It may be a little harder for the PSAPs and the telecommunicators with the loss of some services,
but it does not impact the general public or the callers.
We have a MPLS system network that connects our 44 PSAPs and they are utilizing
currently SS7 trunks and IP once they get into the cloud, but our last mile today still runs on T1s
and DS3s at our higher call volume sites. The host and remote was a scary change for me because of
the vulnerability of outages, but our PSAPs really appreciated the connectivity.
They appreciated the space, the real estate that is taken up with all of our equipment, and not just
911 equipment but other technology in the PSAP is great. And so to save them
some room and take stuff out of the back room was very helpful to them and of course the biggest
benefit to us was the cost savings of moving that way. In 2008 when we implemented we decided with
our master planning that we would build a foundation by building an IP
network and having IP equipment. The network is going to be the backbone for
everything that we do. It will allow us to add features and functionalities,
applications, different things in the future, everything will be built on this
network so we felt it was important to do these two things first. In addition it
did solve those immediate needs that I told to my administrators
and my elected officials of the connectivity and our transfer capabilities.
We also looked at the applications that might be added in the future. We are
currently looking at integration of CAD services, both through a CAD that would be based on a
ESInet people could have license in individual PSAPs but we're also smart enough
to know that nobody wants us to tell them what CAD vendor or CAD product they should use
so we're also looking at integration software that would allow us to do
integration with the existing CADs so that information could be shared over the
network. We also have a voice logger on our network and this was a direct result of one
of our oops-es, when we went to a host a remote atmosphere, several of our PSAPs
because of the way we did our trunking through the host instead of the remote,
several of our PSAPs lost the ability to have trunk-based recording versus position based recording.
If you are in the public safety world, at a trunk base, you get a lot of things
like the background noises before you are connected, if you put them on hold,
they get some information that you can't get with the position base
so our solution to that was to put an IP voice logger on the ESInet so
they would have the ability to regain those features that they lost
temporarily. We are also looking into adding radio to the IP network as well.
One of the best things we did back in 2008 was we moved away from a vendor
for maintenance and moved to self maintenance models where we built, I told you we had that
technical team, we built that team, we combined the expertise, we had some CPE specialists,
had some network specialists, some GIS specialists, they make up our technical team. We contracted with our
vendor to do the initial installation to be our tier one maintenance for the first year.
We built into the contract that they would work with our technical staff and train our technical staff
during that time and that no warranties would be voided with our staff working on it. And by year two
they were totally comfortable with the system and actually that happened in year one
and we switched it and our own team takes care of tier one maintenance.
But we do maintain a contract with the vendor for our tier two tech maintenance
just because of the size and amount of PSAPs that we have in our region
in case there is a large natural disaster we want to make sure we have backup. These guys also have ticketing
software so everything can be done with the PSAP online. They can send an
e-mail, they can send a text and call traditionally to turn in trouble and everything
is tracked from beginning to end. But it is not just the maintenance of the
system, but monitoring as well. You are going to have to know the health of your system
on an ongoing basis. Everything we do we try to be an early adopter but we
always have safety nets. While we did want to take over some of the monitoring,
we also wanted the safety net so we have a contract with a vendor for remote
monitoring. I should caution you, that only means they're going to notify you, not that they're going
to fix the problem. In addition, we have some free and cost efficient software
that our technical team runs and we have learned on average that through
our own monitoring, we have been able to find out things, usually an hour to two
hours before our monitoring company notifies us. So having a combination of both is
a very good and safe environment so you should consider both options. One of the big areas for NG911
is GIS. What I tell everybody is GIS used to be a nice to have. We had the map ALI in our PSAP, so in that rare
occasion when there was somebody being abducted and in the trunk of a car,
we would have the ability to hopefully find them through that GIS information
but those situations didn't happen regularly and a lot of times I went into
the PSAPs and noticed they didn't even glance at the maps which was frustrating
after working so hard to get it there but then a supervisor sat
me down and explained that most of the time they know their geography,
the public knows some of the things and they were able to work things out.
In the cases they were not able to find someone it was a very helpful tool.
With Next Gen we move away from a nice to have two must-have
because now in a Next Gen world our call routing is based on GIS information. Therefore, accuracy is vital.
NENA has a standard as well as many of the vendors when they are putting in your
core services for a ESInet in the minimum requirement of accuracy is 98%. And the way this
98% is documented is to do a MSAG to GIS compare. We had GIS for years and we were pretty
proud of our GIS but the first time we ran that MSAG to GIS compare, it was not the high
number that I thought it was. There is a lot of accuracy that will need to be worked on in your GIS system.
Fortunately, GIS is something everybody can start working on today, no matter where you are in
the planning process. It is really important that you start working on accuracy,
working on geo-databases and EGDMS, ways to have an enterprise system so that people can update the
technology. GIS is an area where everyone can start working on today.
Collaboration and connectivity, I mentioned in our area we wanted connectivity immediately
but it goes further than just our regional system. We all need to start collaborating
with our neighbors and with people who are not our neighbors but maybe have something in
common with us. We need to start building relationships with, building
better relationships with our first responders. Teaching them what our limitations are today and what we
can offer in the future. One of the key components is what do you want, we need to be finding out
what kind of information they want. Homeland Security, emergency management, transportation and there is a
great deal of third-party vendors with new opportunities for 911 and additional data.
Collaboration is key. In our area we have several different types of 911 administration and
we are working with our neighboring districts and some of our municipalities so that as we each implement
our ESInet, after that is all done we will all interconnect
so that we will work to that network of networks that Laurie referred to earlier.
Once we had our ESInet, the next new thing was text-to-911. This was a struggle for me to come to
a decision to implement. I said I started out in public education and training and text-to-911
can be a total nightmare to your public educators and your trainers.
I had quite a bit of resistance, but being an early adopter and
having a lot of interest in our area, we held a risk analysis
with our PSAPs and supervisors throughout our region and we
identified all of their fears, uncertainties and doubts.
We met with deaf organizations, had a meeting where we worked with the deaf and hard of hearing and what
the messaging would be and what services they wanted and how we needed to train.
We had a day long meeting with the national wireless carriers to make sure
they could explain the different solutions and the timelines so that we
could begin planning. In our deaf meeting, one of the
deaf representatives, when we were talking about timing,
we spoke about waiting until all the carriers had come into our region,
and they just urged us please don't wait. Anything is better than nothing.
Please start your implementation to help our public today. We had three individuals in the
small meetings that told us very scary stories they had experienced with 911 in life or
death scenarios where the ability to text might have made a huge
difference. We did make the decision to move forward with an early adoption of this
interim solution with the only carrier offering in our area today, and that was Verizon wireless.
It is not just the deaf and hard of hearing, I have two teenagers and they showed me Twitter
and different social media conversations where the kids were talking and they
assumed you could text 911. We did a research study
in our region and found 31% of the population we surveyed which was age 19-49,
they thought we had text already. All the domestic violence and public mass violence
we are seeing in the schools and in public places when it's not safe to speak.
to anyone on 911. With those drivers in mind, we decided to go ahead and
implement but we were not going to implement until we knew
the technical side was taken care of, but we needed to make sure that the operational
side was taken care of. We had groups that met and we developed
sample SOPs, best practices of SOPs, training materials for our call takers.
We took in two new audiences that we haven't historicaly hit hard with
public education, the first one was responder education and we developed specific training
for them that we could meet at roll call or at special meetings with our fire departments and
give them the education on this new system. We also started working largely with our high schools.
Which typically they know everything and haven't really needed our education with 911
in the past, but they are great audience. By the graph you saw earlier,
they are big users of texting so we have gone into some high schools and
done focus groups. One of the most unique things that we found
in our focus groups is over 50% of teenagers said they don't use abbreviation and text
slang anymore simply because of the AutoCorrect on their smart phone. It
auto corrects their slang and it's harder for them to delete and re-do then to
just type out the word so that was a little bit reassuring. Every model thing we have
done with training, public education, SOPs, we have run it through the NENA Next Gen public education committee
so they are developing very generic information that can be a template so that people don't
have to re-create the wheel and also so we'll have standards in training and education.
You can find that through the NENA website. That brings me to some of the limitations
to the interim solutions. We're not going to be able to pinpoint your location. Today
we can only do SMS, not MMS and no photos or videos. The callers can't send messages to multiple recipients.
You can't use the different applications on the phones today. Texting can take longer
then calling just because typing in any manner usually takes longer than speaking. The biggest
limitation is everyone won't have the service. It is limited to the geography.
In our case, the county by county implementation, as well as the wireless carrier.
We understand public education is key. We have some messages we use in all of
our public education materials. Calling is still the best way to contact or text only
when it's not safe to speak or you can't speak. Location and what you need is going to need to be your first
text to 911. Text in full words or plain language. Don't text and drive, that's a huge one.
If you want to get into the high schools, those SROs are huge on don't text and drive.
That must be part of your educational message. Our slogan is 911, call if
you can, text if you can't. That is a very high level of data what we have done with our
text trial. I'm going to close out with some general lessons learned. No matter what
anybody tells you, you can't buy enough diversity or redundancy. When you start on
NG911 project make sure you include IT staff. Have mitigation strategies and after
action reports when you have outages if you have taken maintenance over in you're dealing with a whole new
system, you will need to write out all the policies and procedures. I told you about the option
of data centers and how fabulous we think that is, cuts down on our liability and outages.
I talked about the trunk versus position reporting and text-to-911
is really going to be a challenge for public education but we
believe the asset to the citizens outweigh that. We do ask people who implement text-to-911
work with national standards on the educational messages so we have consistency.
Our top ten, number one it is a new world and we have to step out of our comfort zone. It is
not fun to change but change is sometimes better and you have to be open to change.
You are responsible for the actions of your team even if you have consultants on board.
Take responsibility for the actions of your entire team. Write requirements,
so that you have not the best solution, there is no best solution, it is which solution is best for you.
And you can't find that out if you don't write requirements. Don't believe everything you hear.
If it's not documented in your contract, consider it vapor. Make sure you have
are very well defined SLA in your contract. We found some of the most common points of failure
on our network was our last mile local connectivity and the IP network itself were
maintenance is done regularly, like in the private industry in the middle of the night.
What's the big deal if we do maintenance at 3am? Well for a 911 center, that's a big deal.
Number six is carefully consider the vulnerabilities with the host and remote system
and mitigate those vulnerabilities in advance through your plan. Locate your host equipment
and data centers. Make sure your accuracy GIS is good or great. The biggest challenge of text is
public education and training. And lesson learned number ten is take your time and don't rush and do it right.
Visit others and talk to others and look at your resources and plan. Planning is certainly the key component.
The last slide has my contact information. I know we don't have time for many
questions today so if you have questions of me, I share anything we have so if you're
interested in seeing anything, hearing anything or getting documents,
if you will e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org, I will get that
information to you. Thank you very much. COLBY RACHFAL: I think we have time for about two
questions, if you have a question, press star one. OPERATOR: Ladies and gentlemen,
if you do have a question, please press star then one on your touchtone telephone.
We will pause a moment to see if there are any questions.
Our first question comes from David Connor, your line is now open.
DAVID CONNOR: A web browser was mentioned earlier and I wanted to know, or at least at this point,
are all Next Gen services available across the web browser or were there some limitations where you
have to have an IP-based interface? CHRISTY WILLIAMS: This is Christy, we chose the
next generation solution through our ESInet mainly because it was at no cost to us.
We already had the licensing. But it is my understanding that if you choose a browser-based
solution that is your interim solution to get to the ESInet, or i3 solution, the web browser does not
in most instances required the IP connection or all of the ESInet connections. DAVID CONNOR: Thank you.
OPERATOR: Thank you and at this time I'm not showing any further questions from the phone lines.
COLBY RACHFAL: Thank you so much. Thank you Ms. Williams and thank you again Ms. Flaherty and Deputy
Chief Reyes and thank you all for attending today's presentation.
We look forward to your participation in future "State of 911" webinars.
The next installment will be Wednesday, September 4th at noon Eastern with presentations from David Tucker
from the Vermont E911 Board and the DHS Office of Emergency Communications. Registration for this event will
open up in about a month from now. Again, for more information on the National 911 Program
or review a recording of this or past events, please visit our website at www.911.gov. Thank you.
OPERATOR: Ladies and gentleman, thank you for participating in today's conference, this does conclude
today's program, you may now disconnect. Everyone have a wonderful day.