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The Importance of Next-Gen 911 Technology for Emergency Dispatchers

There has been a tremendous amount of change around public safety over the last few years, especially regarding 911. Keeping up with Next-Generation 911 technology (NG911) and the wealth of information can certainly be overwhelming. To make matters worse, emergency callers are more mobile than ever before.

Dispatchers have a duty to deliver emergency services to those in need efficiently and effectively. However, many emergency call centers are facing challenges in getting today’s highly mobile society the help they need. Namely, it has become increasingly difficult to pinpoint who is calling and where they are located. This difficulty has caused major lags in emergency response times and dispatch centers, which are frequently understaffed, have become overworked and overstressed.

Read on to learn the top challenges dispatchers are facing, why these challenges exist, and what solutions work to close the gaps in emergency technologies today.

What is the History of 911 …and Why Doesn’t It Work Today?

The old 911 system was predicated upon an emergency caller’s phone being tied to a static location, which could then be easily accessed through a database. So, when a person dialed 911 the emergency dispatcher had access to vital information based off the caller’s phone number, such as name and exact location. However, emergency operators today are receiving, at the very least, 80% of their calls from mobile devices and this number is likely much higher.

Today, people are calling for emergency services from anywhere and everywhere with phones that are no longer associated with a known location. With an estimated 240 million calls made to 911 services in the US each year, this means that 192 million calls coming into dispatch centers are made from devices which traditional 911 systems were not built to locate.

As a result, emergency dispatchers are faced with distressed mobile callers that either cannot speak or cannot identify their own location e.g. they are travelling for work in a different state or are in an unfamiliar part of town. Since the incoming information attached to mobile devices is often automatically based off triangulation, the location associated with the caller may encompass an area of about ¾ square mile. For the dispatcher, it then becomes nearly impossible to effectively and efficiently direct help where it needs to go, especially when dealing with a dense urban area.

Dispatch centers and emergency operators need to be able to reach today’s highly mobile society when they need it, where they need it. Because not only are emergency operators responsible for keeping our communities safe, but also keeping our responders safe as well. It is of utmost importance that responders are provided with easily-accessible, critical information so they can do their jobs more effectively.

Why the 911 System Needs Attention: Three Main Factors

Addressing the challenges presented by an increasingly mobile society will help dispatch centers understand what solutions are required for them to better serve their communities, employees, and responders. However, we also need to determine what factors are contributing to the difficulties in getting emergency callers the help they need.

The three main factors that have led to delays in response times are:

  • Multiple databases are managed and updated by different organizations.
  • Critical details may be provided at different times with information that may be missing.
  • When information cannot be verified, it leads to extra steps in the procedures to release a call. 

In the US, these factors are often due to the reality of non-standardized data across multiple carriers. This data streams in and requires dispatch centers to use different systems and technologies to sift through all the disparate data points to piece together the necessary information required for one single emergency. However, dispatch centers should not be the ones responsible for figuring out the gaps in technology.

Bringing systems together and providing a solution where information can be quickly established from the time of the incident is vitally important. Technology exists today that accounts for the challenges experienced by today’s emergency operators. Through one platform, dispatchers can look up a phone number and have a multitude of valuable information about the caller right in front of them. In some cases, this can be a lifesaving tool.

Closing the Gap: How Everbridge & Rapid SOS Can Help

Next-Gen 911 is an attempt to bring the 911 system into the mobile era. NG911 solutions now exist, such as Everbridge 911 Connect, a RapidSOS ready solution. Everbridge 911 Connect has been developed to fit the needs of modern dispatch centers fielding calls that come from all devices, whether mobile, landline, or VoIP. Dispatch centers can greatly benefit from solutions such as these, which eliminate the need to sift through disparate data streams — they can also stand to save time, labor, and stress of their operators.

NG911 solutions have multifold benefits such as providing dispatchers with incredibly valuable information such as location, name, address, and associated contacts to accelerate emergency response and improve its efficiency. Additionally, they may increase the number of successful phone number matches dispatchers receive when a 911 call comes in and reduce time to closeout operations procedures when there is silent or hang-up calls.

Learn more about how dispatch centers can benefit from NG911 solutions like Everbridge 911 Connect.

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