The city of New York is modernizing its 911 services. Yesterday, the city announced that it will be launching a text-to-911 service slated to be available by the first quarter of 2018. In addition, the city is working on a NextGen 911 upgrade that will give dispatchers the ability to handle audio, video, social media and text requests.
Planning for the NextGen 911 upgrades started in 2014 when New York City conducted an assessment of existing 911 modernization projects, many of which were suffering long delays and ballooning budgets. The Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications (DoITT) subsequently took over project management for many of these initiatives, getting them back on time and on-budget. To date, DoITT has completed the construction and outfitting of Public Safety Answering Center 2 in the Bronx, and is currently conducting a “tech refresh” of Public Safety Answering Center 1 in Brooklyn.
In addition to those upgrades, NextGen 911 standards call for cities to implement internet-based systems that can handle a variety of communication and data. Currently, many cities still operate landline based phone systems with limited technology support for dispatchers and first responders. The National Emergency Number Association (NENA) is working with cities, counties, and states to ensure that upgrades happen uniformly and citizens aren’t disrupted in their use of 911 to report emergencies. The service enhancements included in NextGen 911 include support for GPS and GIS data, support for legacy systems, the capability to do data gathering and reporting throughout the response process and the ability to handle calls that come in from cell phones that may be registered in different area codes than where the emergency call originates.
The city has issued an RFP for partners on the NextGen project, with proposals due by August 8, 2017. Existing vendors in the space include the usual set of IT providers like LexisNexis, Motorola and Verizon. Others, including General Dynamics have also released NextGen 911 offerings adapted for first responders from existing defense and military solutions.
“We have the nation’s largest, busiest, and most complex 911 system, which is why we need to be on the leading edge of emergency communications technology—and that’s exactly where NextGeneration 911 will take us,” said Anne Roest, Commissioner of the Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications.