KY: (Opinion) Our 9-1-1 system desperately needs federal money for upgrades [telecom]

Since its inception, 9-1-1 has been a victim of its own success. Ninety-nine percent of the time, it just works, and people ignore it. Government leaders have an “if it’s not broke, why fix it” mentality.

Unfortunately, this approach is short-sighted and puts lives at risk. Simply put, 9-1-1 will increasingly fail to meet the needs of Kentuckians and Americans unless it is upgraded to Next Generation 9-1-1 technology (NG911) — and this can only be achieved through an infusion of federal funding.

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Bill Horne
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I am always leery of "VoIP" networks, and this author's opinion notwithstanding, I don't think they are a good idea for carrying /any/ kind of emergency communications.

There are at least two things wrong with the idea of using IP-based connections to carry 911 traffic:

  1. The basic, fundamental, underlying premise of the Internet's design is that any particular packet can wait until a route is available, and the packets that transport a 911 Voice-over-Internet-Protocal (VoIP) connection *MUST* be given priority over other traffic - but there is no mechanism in place to do that. VoIP is fine for my home phone (if my ISP ever stops blocking it), but it's *NOT* a reliable way to provide the "always on" connections needed for a PSAP to talk to those in need of help.
  2. Deep down in the glib come-on for the IP network which is supposed to provide the virtual circuits that 911 must have, there is a tiny little tell-all that gives the project's *REAL* purpose away. The NSInet details say that all traffic will be carried over "private" or "virtually private" paths. We all know what Virtual Private Networks are - but what they are *NOT* is a virtual circuit, and the fact that they're going to be used for the "new 911" tells me that this allegedly "advanced" system will be composed of a few concentrated cubicle farms in each state (if even that), trying to use technology to relieve the ever-more-hungry politicians of any obligation to hire and pay the multi-lingual, multi-cultural specialists that currect E911 PSAPs are supposed to have on duty at all times. Of course, if multi-lingual labor can't be found, there will always be the temptation to "offshore" the centers overseas ...

You heard it here first.

Bill Horne

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