E911 analytic software a precursor to NG911?

Published: February 21, 2013

Communications ServicesForecasts and SpendingJustice/Public Safety & Homeland SecurityNG911

Many states and localities are moving, though oftentimes slowly, toward next generation 911 (NG911). The Commonwealth of Massachusetts issued a request for information (RFI) in mid-2012 to gain information on proceeding with its statewide system. This month, the Massachusetts State 911 Department issued a statement of work to obtain a somewhat new 911 system – one that will lay the initial groundwork for the future NG911 solicitation.

The statement of work provides prospective vendors, already authorized under state contract ITS43SolProv, with information on the Wireless 911 Direct Project. The initiative is a follow up to a 2010 pilot project for a wireless routing proof of concept. That pilot/proof of concept led to this wireless initiative, which will provide the Massachusetts 911 Department and local public safety answering points (PSAPs) with the tools and analytic capabilities to analyze 911 call data from the E911 system. The information obtained through this analysis will allow the state to view historical 911 call records for all cellular sectors throughout the commonwealth. The data can provide information on the system’s functionality and the ability to determine, by cellular sector and other parameters, the operational impact of the direct routing of 911 wireless calls to local PSAPs. Another component of this system is the ability to visualize the data on maps from its existing MassGIS Web mapping service.

While other states may have similar functionality embedded into their E911 and NG911 systems, this solicitation to contract a specific vendor for these services is one of the first of its kind. It makes sense to have this capability prior to the implementation of an NG911 system. This data, which will be completely searchable, can provide insight into the accuracy of each cellular sector and tower, as well as whether calls are being correctly routed. The information will be vital when eventually accepting text messages, pictures and other data over an ESInet/NG911 system.

Analyst’s Take:

Deltek has written extensively about NG911 in the past, citing that it would become one of the top procurement initiatives across the country in 2012 and beyond. As standards are increasingly established, agencies will begin to feel more comfortable with the technology’s longevity and not worry about whether it will be obsolete in a few years.

Many agency heads may look to Massachusetts and feel that a technology to track and analyze cellular data might be an ideal first step toward NG911. This type of system will likely increase the overall costs, but having detailed information on the current operation of cellular towers and other infrastructure may save money in the long-term costs of NG911. Agencies should discuss this type of system with existing E911 providers or seek information through an RFI on how vendors could help with transition and implementation efforts.

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