We learned a lot at APCO 2018 this year and had some great discussions with different people who focused on different elements of public safety. One of our interesting discussions that occurred several times was the question as to what comes first in planning for your migration to NG9-1-1. Does an ESInet need to be built first or can you move forward to a new NG9-1-1 ready call handling solution?
While it is true that in order to have a full NG9-1-1 solution and create a regional or statewide solution, it is important to connect to an ESInet. There are interim steps that a PSAP can take independently to prepare for such a plan and control their own path. This is especially important when a PSAP needs to replace an aging legacy system and their timeline does not line up with that of the region or the State.
There are many benefits to upgrading even before you can connect to ESInet. If a PSAP is proactive about making the NG9-1-1 migration, they will then have the time to train their staff about NG9-1-1 features and operations. PSAPs can also make the investment required to migrate over time rather than all at once.
NG9-1-1 call handling solutions have many new features and functions that can be turned on and added to your PSAP before there is an ESInet. Some of these new features and functions include multimedia communications, real-time access to caller location, interoperability with county, regional, and state systems, and more. You can also start receiving SMS text notifications, subscribe to receive more accurate location data, and supplemental call and caller data. There are several companies that are providing these services to PSAPs without the need of an ESInet and can provide an interim solution that delivers the enhanced functionality while investing in the right technology.
As you separate the call handling solution from the ESInet, it is very important that when you procure a new call handling solution, you invest in a product that complies with the NENA i3 standard and will interface seamlessly to the ESInet when available.
The main goal is to migrate to a full NG9-1-1 solution that is interconnected via an ESInet, but migration to NG9-1-1 does not have to be a big bang. It can be a structured and managed phased approach and your call handling solution in one of these phases. As a public safety agency, you can make your own plans and invest in the right technology and phase your migration while the state or region is preparing for and migrating to an ESInet.