Representatives from AT&T, ModUcom and Tennessee Emergency Communications were at the Bradley County 911 Wednesday progressing through another phase of testing of NexGen 911, which will allow a totally Internet Protocol digital system to be used.
Recently, the first IP-based, out-of-lab call was made over the new system which has been in the testing mode for several months. The call, which was received at Bradley County 911 from a cellphone, was the first call in the state of Tennessee to go out using the new technology.
Tennessee’s Next Generation 911 network is connected in Brentwood and other Middle Tennessee 911 districts.
The new system will eliminate miles of hardwire and replace it with a single cable.
Video, photos and text messaging from 911 users will be enabled in the future.
“This could allow law enforcement, firemen, EMS or other first response personnel to assess a scene before arriving,” said Joe Wilson, director of Bradley County 911 earlier this year when the testing began.
Abu Swafford, Internet specialist at the 911 center, said Wednesday’s testing yielded new information and AT&T will be working to resolve some issues.
ModUcom, the overseer of the local project and many other 911 centers console systems, and NetTN are administrating and testing the product, which will add a number of capabilities in the future to 911 communications.
ModUcom Senior Architect Phillip Riechl manned his station Wednesday as testing continued. AT&T specialist Brian Blaylock and Chad Brothers with the state’s Telecommunications Systems were also on hand with Swafford as testing was performed.
NG911 will allow better communication with those callers who may be hearing impaired or have many other capabilities.
A few years ago, Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP) presented issues when calls were routed to 911.
Wilson explained the VoIP could send calls to trunks outside the local 911 since cellphones use towers. When the caller dialed 911, the phones would utilize available nearby towers for “hooking up,” making it difficult to determine a true location of the caller in the event of an emergency. Updated technology has addressed the issue.
A single cable is used to operate the NexGen system, unlike the hundreds of trunking wires which feed dispatchers’ terminals now.
The new system will help alleviate the hard-wired systems, which are in place at present.
The initial connection in Brentwood begins a process that will connect 911 centers across the state to one of the nation’s first statewide, Internet protocol-enabled 911 networks, according to state officials.
Wilson said Tennessee has been on the cutting edge of technology and the system will be used as a model for other 911 systems across the country.