Next Generation 9-1-1 Finally Beginning to Take Off


More than a decade ago, the National Emergency Number Association (NENA) recognized the need for changes to the nation’s 911 systems.

The old systems had their jobs for decades, but in a world of wireless calling and voice over Internet protocol (VoIP), the country needed more accommodating technology. Enter the concept of next-generation 911 (NG911), a system that would run on a secure Internet protocol-based network and allow texting, data transfer and more.

Since then, a generation of youngsters has grown up texting pals not only with words, but with pictures and videos as well. In fact, a 2011 Pew Internet survey found that 73 percent of cellphone users text, and nearly one-third of them would rather text than talk. In addition, many people with hearing and speech disabilities have abandoned TTY in favor of text messaging. Despite this phenomenon, just a small number of the nation’s 911 call centers run on secure emergency services IP-based networks, and just a handful of the centers have piloted technologies that allow the public to text 911.

So what’s taking so long?

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