An enhanced 9-1-1 system (E9-1-1) is one that is designed to automatically route any 9-1-1 call to the proper Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP). The PSAP that receives the call is responsible for dispatching emergency services to the caller. Along with the call, 9-1-1 call takers also receive the calling party's phone number and information about the caller's location.
Next Generation 9-1-1 (NG9-1-1) is an initiative aimed at updating the current 9-1-1 infrastructure to improve public safety communications in an increasingly mobile society. It is envisioned as a system of managed, IP-based networks which will enhance the current E9-1-1 features while adding new capabilities. This means in addition to being able to call 9-1-1 from any communication device, the public would be able to transmit text, images, video, and data to a Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP).
The sections below illustrate some of the steps the District has taken towards NG9-1-1.
As of of the first steps towards NG9-1-1, the District designed and created a multi-faceted IP network, which connects the District PSAPs together using both fiber and a wireless networks.
This network is carefully monitored and upgraded over time. Once a call is brought into the network, it allows IP transport of the call and associated information. Currently, all 9-1-1 calls from the AT&T selective router are routed to the appropriate PSAP over this IP network. While the overall current system is a mix of analog and digital, the District is steadily working towards a purely digital and IP network.
As part of a group effort through the Texas 9-1-1 Alliance, the District is working with a company known as 911 Datamaster to create a Location Validation Function (LVF). This LVF is essentially a database which will allow authorized service providers to validate a subscriber's location in real time. Any validated service provider will be able to access the system via an open, but secure interface. This database will eventually replace the Master Street Address Guide (MSAG).
The end result of the LVF project will be the first time that mapping data will be the sole source for 9-1-1 location information, as opposed to tabular data. While MSAG and postal data are initially being used to create the GIS layers, the resulting data will be the authoritative source for address validation.
The legacy 9-1-1 system has no way of natively receiving or processing an SMS text message. For the last several years, the District has been using an aggregation service to receive text messages. In this method, text messages from the various wireless carriers are sent to a Text Control Center (TCC), then delivered to the PSAP via a secure web browser connection.
As of late 2017, the District started work on an integrated text to 9-1-1 solution. This method delivers text messages from the TCC directly into the specialized 9-1-1 equipment. The text message behaves more like a 9-1-1 call and gives the District more control over how it is delivered.