Virtual PBX Featured Article

Business, Government Work to Improve Emergency Services Communications

November 14, 2018

By Paula Bernier - Executive Editor, TMC

People in the U.S. make about 240 million calls to emergency services every year. In many areas around 80 percent of those calls come from mobile phones.

That probably doesn’t come as a surprise. As we all know, many U.S. consumers have unplugged their landline phone services over the past several years, and they now rely exclusively on their cellular accounts and devices to communicate. Also, often emergency situations happen when people are away from home. So, in those situations, people often use their cellular phones to call for help.

Of course, reliance on cellular phones and services is part of a larger, worldwide trend. Nearly 63 percent of people in the world had mobile phone subscriptions in 2016. And the number of mobile phone users is expected to surpass 5 billion next year. That a good share of the planet considering there are about 7.7 billion people in the world today.

The broad use of cellular devices – and the migration away from legacy, TDM-based networks and to newer, IP-based networks – has prompted people, governments, and some businesses to rethink how emergency services and communications work.

For example, there’s the Next Generation 911 effort in the U.S. to update the 911 system that allows people to reach public safety and first responders. This is an effort to address the fact that communications has changed significantly since the first call was made neraly 50 years ago.

“Since that first 911 call, communication forms have become increasingly digital – texts, photos, videos, and VoIP – and many ‘phone’ systems rely on technology that have become obsolete and unserviceable,”  notes the “Next Generation 911 Cost Estimate: A Report to Congress.” The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration presented the report to the U.S. Congress last just last month.

The lifecycle cost for capital and operational expenses realted to NG911, the report indicates, will range from $13.5 billion and $16 billion. The updates are expected to take a decade. And the costs are should be shared between localities, state, and federal agencies, it says.

This is just one example of an effort to modernize and improve emergency services-related communications.

Edited by Maurice Nagle



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