NC IT Roadmap - Next Generation 911

“911 centers are the heartbeat of making a community safer. It is imperative that we keep operations running smoothly and we can’t do that without the help of our PSAPs, their managers and the public.”

- J. Eric Boyette, Secretary of NCDIT, State CIO, and NC 911 Board Chair

People rely on immediate access to 911 services in the case of an emergency. Communications technologies have changed, and we now rely heavily on texts, instant messages, and VoIP services, but our existing 911 service is not capable of managing these types of communications. Next Generation 911 (NG911) is the transition from this legacy e911 system to an Internet Protocol (IP)-based system for routing digital information (i.e. cell phone calls, text messages) to the appropriate 911 call taking center, or Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP). The NC 911 Board has contracted with AT&T for the implementation of a statewide Emergency Services IP Network (ESInet), and a Hosted Call Processing system. This is part of a transition into a fully functional NG911 eco-system compliant with the National Emergency Numbers Association (NENA) i3 Standards and Best Practices. 

We are implementing Next Generation 911 (NG911) first and foremost to ensure that people are able to access 911 services regardless of their location or the communication technology they use, but also to build in interoperability, security, economies of scale, competition, and innovation among PSAPs that will vastly improve the efficiency and effectiveness of emergency response. Improvements in call location technology and in GIS (Geographic Information services) will enable the routing of calls based on the caller’s location, rather than the cellular service tower that received the call. The NG911 service provides the ability to:

  • Route 911 calls based on the caller’s location, as opposed to the wireless tower that received the 911 call.
  • Deliver text-to-911 in a reliable way with the same priority as a 911 call.
  • Deliver video-to-911.
  • Provide for 911 call load sharing among PSAPs during emergencies, so that when a storm overloads one PSAP, a neighboring PSAP can automatically receive overflow calls.
  • Provide accurate, reliable, and timely location information for 911 telecommunicators and field responders, especially for wireless and other nomadic 911 callers.

Implementing the NG911 Network: On November 13, 2018, Durham 911 was the first NG911 PSAP in the country to go into production with AT&T ESINet and Hosted Call Handling services. As of February 1, 2019, there were 31 PSAPs in various stages of NG911 implementation. All 31 should be in production by the third calendar quarter of 2019. We expect at least 10-15 additional PSAPs to go into production before the end of the calendar year. AT&T is coordinating resources to accommodate the level of productivity necessary to achieve 100% migration to the NG911 solution by December 31, 2021.

Implementing a Network Management Assistance Center: The NC 911 Board adopted a concept of operations detailing the need for a Network Management Assistance Center (NMAC) at the beginning of the NG911 project. The NMAC will provide Network Operations Center (NOC) functions to ensure a smooth and consistent communications flow for network support between the NG911 PSAP community and AT&T. The NMAC will operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week and will be staffed and equipped with the necessary monitoring tools to provide comprehensive service management oversight.

Developing a GIS Geospatial Service: The NC 911 Board has contracted with GeoComm to aggregate and validate required GIS data from all 115 NC PSAPs to a statewide NENA compliant geodatabase within the state’s NG911 system. The GIS data will be used to enable the Emergency Call Routing Function (ECRF) to determine the 911 call center where a call should be routed, and the Location Validation Function (LVF) to identify the correct location of a civic address (house number and street name).

GIS data is the backbone for validating and routing calls in a NG911 system. In a NG911 system, GIS data for addressing information and service area boundaries associated with the Emergency Service Zones needs to be accurate, kept up-to-date, and seamless across the state. It is the Board’s expectation that GeoComm will identify and report any gaps, errors and discrepancies in GIS data to the PSAP for reconciliation. Remediation of identified errors and discrepancies will become the responsibility of local entities.

Looking to the future we will:

  • Continue to analyze PSAPs and migrate to the AT&T ESINet and Hosted Call Handling Services, targeting a complete migration by December 31, 2021.
  • Implement the Network Management Assistance Center (NMAC) for use by PSAPs.
  • Implement GIS geospatial service for use by entities providing GIS data, to be used to support call routing.
  • Implement outreach and public education programs to keep the public, NG911 stakeholders, and industry partners informed about the Board’s NG911 efforts.