Monday, November 22, 2010

FCC Outlines Next-Generation 9-1-1

FCC Chairman Genachowski outlined the steps that the FCC will take to update the nation's 9-1-1 emergency calling system with the addition of text, photo, and video capabilities. Already, 70% of 9-1-1 calls come from mobile phones and most of these users are frequent users of SMS and picture messaging. However, most 9-1-1 call centers are not capable of receiving text, photo, video or other incoming data. Some of the benefits the FCC seeks in a next generation 9-1-1 system include:

Text for Help: Many Americans, particularly those with disabilities, rely on texting as their
primary means of communication. In some emergency situations -- especially in circumstances
where a call could further jeopardize someone's life and safety -- texting is the only way to reach
out for help. Next-Generation 9-1-1 would allow call centers to receive texts and put them to use.

Real-Time Rapid Response: Mobile video and photos provide first responders with on-the ground
information that helps them assess and address the emergency in real-time. These
technologies also help report crime as it is happening. Next-Generation 9-1-1 would expand the
multi-media capabilities of 9-1-1 call centers.

Automatic Alerting: Next-Generation 9-1-1 would enable emergency calls to be placed by
devices, rather than human beings. Examples of such devices include environmental sensors
capable of detecting chemicals, highway cameras, security cameras, alarms, personal medical
devices, telematics, and consumer electronics in automobiles.