The New York Times had an editorial stating that the "911 system is dangerously out of date", written by the chairman of the FCC.
"Currently, the centers handle about 240 million calls a year, an increasing number of them from cellphones. But many local 911 call centers can't receive a text, photo or video from a person in need -- capabilities that are considered commonplace for any American with a smartphone. Worse, while our nation makes the transition to broadband networks, too many of our 911 call centers rely on decades-old telephone technology -- technology that is no longer being supported by commercial vendors and prone to failure. The market forces driving the broadband revolution will soon have the nation's 911 system resting on a foundation of sand."
"The nation's 911 call centers need to upgrade to "Next Generation 911," or NG911. NG911 links 911 call centers to the latest Internet Protocol-based networks, uses mapping databases and software to route calls and pinpoint the real-time location of 911 callers, and supports voice, text, data and video communication."
for full commentary please see:
- * *
In my opinion, this essay raises a lot of questions. First, where will the money come from to pay for an all-new system?
Second, is the system has _dangerously_ obsolete as described? People have been reporting emergencies by voice over the telephone for 100 years. Some 911 systems now accept text messages, and it shouldn't require a major overhaul to do so.
Third, IMHO, one problem with 911 systems has been excessive centralization. For example, dispatchers used to be fairly close to the communities they served and thus were familiar with them. But 911 technology encouraged central dispatching, such as for an entire county or even group of counties, and the dispatchers are no longer familiar with local geography.
Some police dispatching systems do include maps or other information to responders. However, as a police chief told me, there is often a lag between when streets and buildings are modified and the changes show up in a database. Giving an officer bad information is worse than no information.
Does anyone here have any thoughts on this essay? Is the existing 911 system as dangerous as the writer suggests?[public replies, please]