NG9-1-1 and Homeland Security – Intelligent Policing Using Emergency Services IP Networks (ESInet)
While a city can never be fully prepared to battle a terrorist event, it can significantly change the outcome and mitigate the potential for damage and loss of life. Recent events have brought forth the continuing subject of terror to the homeland, yet to date I have not seen one mention of a solution that is staring us all in the face.
Homeland Security and Public Safety – The Modern Day Police Force
Our nation continues to be faced with threats, ones which are traditional for public safety agencies to handle, others that are complex that tax our current policing models. While interagency cooperation and interoperability with state and federal entities is standard operating procedure for most cities, we continue to see these threats hit us, most recently in New York City with the Halloween Day terror attack and the attempted bombing of the NY Transit facility as well as the bombings in Boston. In each of these attacks, public safety has come together with state and federal agencies in a highly collaborative manner, sharing information to ensure the situation is resolved peacefully. In short, we are used to working together to combat threats to our homeland and, while most of the public has a perception that the Department of Homeland Security is a policing agency, the reality is our nation’s public safety agencies ARE the homeland security force. The challenge we all face is not “How do we work together?” but rather “How do we start using technology so that public safety agencies can preempt acts of terror?”
Citizen Engagement – How NG9-1-1 Fills the Void
Federal, state and local agencies need a communications system that can handle all forms of content, particularly video. This was a lesson Boston learned firsthand as it managed the response to the Marathon bombings. They knew there were videos and images of the bombers, data that was needed desperately, but they had no way to easily access it. If they had been able to access all cameras in Copley that day and had a means for the public to deliver their footage to public safety officials, they would have had a much different and faster conclusion to the case. Due to the fact that officials did not have any single, secure means to collect all of the information, they lost precious time. The basics that we all take for granted were simply not there, and one reason is because the communications networks that serve the public are not capable of processing anything other than voice calls. This is a problem that most all major cities are faced with today, as old 911 infrastructure is well beyond its lifespan and the way people communicate today not only revolves around data, but LOTS of it, congesting (and even crashing) these networks.
There is a solution, known as Next Generation 9-1-1 (NG9-1-1), and in short it provides the public and public safety with networks (Emergency Services IP Networks, or ESInets) which receive ANY type of communications (voice, text, IM, video), making the jobs of our first responders safer and the tools they have (data) more precise. NG9-1-1 is an overarching paradigm shift for our nation, the public and first responders, as it gives us the ability to communicate the way we all do every day: with data and beyond the limits of the current telephone system infrastructure serving 911. Through NG9-1-1, not only do citizens become empowered, but our public safety professionals will have a whole new set of tools to protect the public and secure the homeland. In my next blog, I’ll take a closer look at ESInets and the power of converged communications.