Emergency Communications: The Future of 911 [June 16, 2009]   [open pdf - 304KB]

This updated CRS Report provides information about modernizing the current 911 emergency system. More specifically, "the balance of this report describes the development of Congressional policy in support of 911, technology and infrastructure, federal programs, the transition to IP-enabled emergency communications, costs, and other elements of change before returning to a discussion of goals for the future. [...] Consumer expectations for accurate and timely response to 911 calls are based on the advanced features available on most communications devices, not on the reality of a faltering legacy system. The analog system cannot carry text messages, for example. Calls are delayed or dropped when analog and digital systems do not mesh. Information on the location of the call is lost because the digital details cannot be transmitted by the underlying telecommunications infrastructure or understood by the computers at Public Safety Answering Points (PSAPs). PSAPs are the call centers that receive and relay 911 calls. As summarized in a National Emergency Number Association (NENA) report, 'Simply put, the 9-1-1 system has not kept up with technology and is badly in need of modernization.' Modernizing the system to provide the quality of service that approaches the expectations of its users will require investments in new technologies. The general consensus is that present and future digital communications would be best supported by Next Generation 911 technology (NG9-1-1). The term NG9-1-1 is widely used to refer to the modernization of all parts of the 911 system, including hardware, software, data, and operational policies and procedures, all supported by multi-purpose emergency service networks."

Report Number:
CRS Report for Congress, RL34755
Public Domain
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