By Mike King, Esri Emergency Call Taking and Dispatch Industry Manager
Recently, the Federal Communications Commission reported that during the days following Hurricane Irma, 29 of Florida's emergency 911 centers were unable to provide adequate service. This breakdown has sparked a response by Senators Bill Nelson of Florida and Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, who have sponsored legislation designed to enhance and upgrade, through expedited funding, Next Generation 911 systems across the nation.
Throughout the United States, emergency dispatch centers are grappling with outdated analog systems that are not capable of handling today's mobile technology, such as text messaging, video, and sensor data. Migrating existing systems to newer, digital solutions will provide better location information and improve the transfer of critical information to Public Safety Answering Points (PSAPs) and first responders.
Esri applauds this effort to improve our declining 911 infrastructure. While the cost of improvement may be high, the price of failing to upgrade antiquated systems may be astronomical. The public has embraced mobile technology and expects our PSAPs to be capable of receiving critical information from any device—something that this legislation will help make a reality.
Esri stands at the forefront of this Next Generation 911 effort by providing a world-class geographic information system (GIS) to build and maintain accurate address databases, which are the foundation for timely response. Esri also provides real-time analysis of 911 data and offers easy-to-use mobile tools for sharing critical information to and from the field. Our large pool of partners includes most of the computer-aided dispatch companies that 911 centers rely on, and our tools and templates provide first responders with the critical information they need to do their jobs efficiently and effectively.
Existing Esri customers can immediately take advantage of our growing library of free tools and templates for PSAPs, law enforcement, fire agencies, emergency management, and emergency medical services (EMS) by visiting the Esri Public Safety page. Everyone can take advantage of our webinar series, where the latest advancements in GIS for public safety are shared.