Snapshot: Public Safety Agencies Pilot AI to Aid in First Response

Snapshot: Public Safety Agencies Pilot Artificial Intelligence to Aid in First Response

10/16/2018 09:05 AM EDT

Imagine a first responder answering the call to a natural disaster, a house fire, or an active shooter incident where there may be multiple injuries and unknown casualties. The information the responder needs to fulfill the mission is immeasurable. When you also consider the volume of data they receive from other responders, dispatch, command centers, victims, and onlookers while receiving and relaying information to medical personnel, it becomes clear that responders have to synthesize a large amount of life-saving information in a short amount of time. This can lead to information overload.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate (S&T)’s Next Generation First Responder Apex program (NGFR) partnered with the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) to address this capability gap and develop the Assistant for Understanding Data through Reasoning, Extraction, and Synthesis (AUDREY). AUDREY is a state-of-the-art human-like reasoning system designed to assist first responders in synthesizing high-level data while at the scene of an emergency. DHS S&T began the AUDREY software pilot at the Multi Agency Communications Center (MACC) in Grant County, Washington, in the fall of 2017 and will pilot AUDREY at the Hastings-Quinte Paramedic Services in Ontario, Canada in early 2019.

Similar to the voice-activated device on a smartphone or the voice-controlled intelligent personal assistant available to the public, AUDREY is personalized to the individual responder and has the capability to recognize first responder specialized language. However, unlike the artificial general intelligence (AGI) systems available to the general public, AUDREY uses bio-inspired neural symbolic processing for cognitive reasoning. In other words, AUDREY leverages human intelligence and collects data to achieve better machine intelligence and provides insight that first responders may not have in the crucial moments of an emergency.

“AUDREY learns, analyzes, reasons, predicts, collaborates, and provides data fusion to provide direction for first responders on the scene,” said Dr. Edward Chow, manager of the Civil Programs Office at NASA JPL. “In other words, AUDREY has the potential to serve as a sort of guardian angel for first responders while responding to an emergency.”

As demonstrated in Next Generation First Responder video released last spring, AUDREY provides situational awareness during an incident, connecting first responders across different agencies with vital information right at their fingertips.

“AUDREY provides the kind of information at an incident that may not be readily apparent to even the most seasoned first responder,” said S&T’s NGFR Director John Merrill, DHS S&T AUDREY program manager.

“AUDREY’s purpose is to aid responders in taking all of the pertinent data related to an incident and making quicker decisions. In turn, this not only helps first responders save lives, but also keeps them better protected,” Merrill concluded.

At the MACC in Grant County, Washington, Technical Services Manager Dean Hane anticipates AUDREY will aid in caller and data information gathering as well as serve as a tool in synthesizing caller information from text-to-911.

“The major priority for dispatchers across the nation is to get a call out faster and more accurately to our first responders out in the field,” said Hane. “We believe AUDREY will be a tool we’ll use to gather information and data collection processes and to speed up our response.”

With the onset of text-to-911 services available in many dispatch centers across the country, many in the industry believe the future of 911 dispatch will be phone applications developed for the public to report more detailed information from an incident. Currently, the MACC offers the text-to-911 service and anticipates that evolution.

“Certainly, there will be a variety of unanticipated standards and data that will be collected from that kind of technology that we would need a tool like AUDREY to synthesize,” said Hane. “AUDREY will be that peek into the future – and we’re excited that we’ll be at the onset to crack open that door.”

Hane explained that while many are excited about the prospect of AUDREY’s ability to streamline dispatch, some are apprehensive that AGI may eventually take their jobs. However, Hanes assures, “Dispatchers don’t need to worry about AGI taking their jobs.

“Nothing can ever take the place of human intuition. There are instances where a caller may disguise their distress, in the example of domestic abuse. Trained dispatchers are able to distinguish cues that AI cannot,” Merrill stressed.

“AUDREY was created to learn with first responders and supplement their decisions while out in the field. There is no replacement for human intuition,” said Merrill.

Currently, the MACC is in the midst of gathering data to input into the AUDREY platform for their demonstration in the fall.

For Doug Socha, chief paramedic with the Hastings-Quinte Paramedic services, piloting a system like AUDREY seems like the natural next step in next generation first responder technology.

“Our services have been very progressive in advancing technology and trying to support paramedics in providing the best patient outcome possible. We’re always looking to try to advance tools and give paramedics the ability to do their job in those highly critical situations,” said Socha.

Socha was introduced to AUDREY through the established partnership between DHS S&T and Defence Research and Development Canada (DRDC) during the CAUSE IV interoperability experiment.

“When I first heard about AUDREY’s capabilities to support responders with instant decision-making, I saw an opportunity where this type of AI can benefit paramedics from a health care system point of view,” said Socha. “The ability to have paramedics check on medication or relay information to hospitals that could save them time, can help paramedics focus more on patient care.”

Socha explained that often, paramedics’ ability to treat patients on the spot is limited because they must call and consult physicians before taking the next steps in treatment.

“We lose crucial seconds when we could be saving lives,” said Socha.

Grant County’s Multi Agency Communication Center (MACC) will provide feedback and demo AUDREY’s integration with first responder communications by late fall 2018. The AUDREY pilot with Hastings-Quinte paramedic services will begin in early 2019.

Topics: First Responders, Science and Technology
Keywords: Artificial Intelligence, data, First Responder, News, R&D, Science and Technology

Having trouble viewing this message? View it as a webpage.

You are subscribed to updates from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security
Manage Subscriptions  |  Privacy Policy  |  Help

Connect with DHS:
Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Instagram  |  LinkedIn  |  Flickr  |  YouTube

U.S. Department of Homeland Security

U.S. Department of Homeland Security · · 202-282-8000

Attachments area

Preview YouTube video Next Generation First Responder

Next Generation First Responder


Nominations to Fill Open Seat on P25 CAP Advisory Panel

SAFECOM members,

On October 1, 2018, DHS S&T published a 30 Day Federal Register Notice seeking nominations to fill an open seat on the Project 25 Compliance Assessment Program (P25 CAP) Advisory Panel (AP). The P25 CAP AP members provide the views of active local, state, tribal, territorial and federal government users of portable, handheld, mobile vehicle-mounted radios and infrastructure, including repeaters, consoles and gateways. The P25 CAP AP provides recommendations to S&T for strategic direction of the P25 CAP, addresses user input to improve the P25 CAP compliance process and provides feedback to P25 standards committees. The notice can be found here:

All expressions of interest and nominations should be submitted to Please note that the 30 day notice will close on October 31, 2018.


Public Safety Advocate Update, September 10, 2018

An online publication of FirstNet.

Blog series: 5 early benefits of FirstNet. Check out our fourth blog in a series of five, entitled “Early Benefits of FirstNet: Support is Available to Public Safety 24/7/365.” The blog series highlights the five early benefits of FirstNet for public safety. Read more

Public Safety First Podcast: Episode 5. In our latest podcast episode, guest host Mike Varney, First Responder Network Authority Northeast Director, chats with Deputy Chief Travis Hollis of the Rogers, AZ, Fire Department about why a city in “Tornado Alley” decided to transition to FirstNet.  As an early adopter, Deputy Chief Hollis talks about how FirstNet is changing the way his agency’s responders communicate and the future of public safety communications, including the Internet of Life-Saving Things (IoLST). Listen to the full episode and share the latest episode on Twitter.

Visit for these stories and more:  APWA’s Annual Conference Inspires Recognition of Public Works Professionals; FirstNet helps public works agencies coordinate with public safety partners; and FirstNet supports public safety during community celebrations

All Things FirstNet

For the following stories and much more.  Visit

FirstNet Spectrum Added To Over 2,500 Sites
Last month AT&T announced it added FirstNet-dedicated digital spectrum to more than 2,500 sites across the country. By Christopher Vondracek The total number of public safety…

Louisiana Ambulance Company On Board With FirstNet
“We’re waiting for that test event,” said Joey Branton, Director of Technology for Acadian Ambulance, who serves much of Louisiana, a swath of East Texas,…

Florida, Georgia Agencies adopt FirstNet
Two new agencies in the American Southeast have opted in to using FirstNet devices in the last week.  A sheriff’s department in a Georgia county…

DHS Emergency Services Sector Webinar – Register Today

DHS Emergency Services Sector

presents a webinar on the 

DHS National Protection and Programs Directorate (NPPD)

Office for Bombing Prevention.

In this webinar, the DHS Office of Bombing Prevention (OBP) will give an overview of OBP programs and information sharing efforts that support first responders.

Webinar Date: July 26, 2018, 1-2 pm Eastern

Webinar Registration:

On July 26, the National Information Sharing Consortium will be hosting a webinar with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Emergency Services Sector-Specific Agency (ESS) on the DHS National Programs & Protection Directorate (NPPD) Office of Bombing Prevention (OBP). The webinar will describe the full spectrum of products, services, and offerings from the DHS OBP to include Counter-IED (C-IED) information sharing through the Technical Resource for Incident Prevention (TRIPwire), OBP’s extensive C-IED training and solutions program, as well as OBP’s C-IED Capability Assessment and Planning to include the National Counter-IED Capabilities Analysis Database (NCCAD) and Multi-Jurisdiction IED Security Planning (MJIEDSP) Program.

The DHS ESS webinar is the twelfth webinar in the NISC’s Mission-Focused Job Aids Webinar Series that will review tools, techniques, and standard operating procedures that NISC partners in the homeland security, emergency management, public safety, first responder, and healthcare preparedness communities use to facilitate and manage information sharing. For more information about the webinars series and the NISC, visit the NISC website at To become a member of the NISC, click hereto join, membership is free for all users!


Sean McSpaden |Executive Director | National Information Sharing Consortium

David Williamson | Counter-IED Training and Solutions Section Chief |Office for Bombing Prevention |Department of Homeland Security | National Protection & Programs Directorate

Important Links

The NISC’s Mission

We bring together data owners, custodians, and users from all public safety fields and all sectors to leverage efforts to improve information sharing. We aim to help save lives, better protect property, and build a safer, more secure nation.

Senate Committee Advances DHS Undersecretary Nomination

The nomination of Christopher Krebs to become undersecretary–national protection and programs at the Department of Homeland Security was approved late yesterday by the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.  As senior official in the unit, Mr. Krebs has been performing the duties of the vacant post, which oversees the National Protection and Programs Directorate (NPPD).  He previously was director–cybersecurity policy at Microsoft Corp. and worked at DHS as a policy adviser during the George W. Bush administration. – Courtesy TR Daily

Lawmakers Introduce Non-Emergency Mobile Number Bill

Reps. Susan W. Brooks (R., Ind.) and Anna G. Eshoo (D., Calif.) today introduced the National Non-Emergency Mobile Number Act (HR 5700), which would direct the FCC to take steps to facilitate the creation of a unified wireless short code for critical, but non-emergency, situations on highways.

“This commonsense, bipartisan bill ensures our 911 telecommunicators can focus on responding quickly and efficiently to phone calls reporting time-sensitive and urgent emergency matters,” said Rep. Brooks. “When people are traveling from state to state, the short non-emergency number people call to report an instance deserving of attention but may not classify as an emergency varies across state lines. Designating a code for this specific use promotes a more cohesive and effective public safety response. This bill will make it easier for travelers to contact public safety officials when reporting non-emergency situations and enables our 911 telecommunicators to focus on helping people who are dealing with an emergency.”

“In an interconnected nation, it is essential that we have a streamlined communication system across all states,” said Rep. Eshoo. “The National Non-Emergency Mobile Number Act simplifies travelers’ access to assistance in non-dire times, regardless of what state they’re in and eases unnecessary call traffic to 911. I’m proud to partner with Rep. Brooks on this straightforward legislation that will allow emergency call centers to focus on urgent matters and save the lives of those in danger.”

“Currently, there are at least eighteen different wireless short codes in operation across 29 states throughout the country,” according to a news release on the bill. “Mobile wireless non-emergency numbers primarily used on highways allow individuals, especially the traveling public, to quickly and easily contact public safety officials (typically state highway patrols) in critical times of need that do not exactly rise to the emergency level, such as car malfunctions. These numbers shift unnecessary calls away from 911 systems to help with congestion and allow emergency call centers, or public safety answering points (PSAPs), to focus on more significant matters.” It added that the bill “would help consolidate the multiple numbers existing today, thereby reducing traveler confusion and hastening response times.”

“I applaud Representatives Brooks and Eshoo for introducing the National Non-Emergency Mobile Number Act,” said FCC Commissioner Mike O’Rielly. “This is a commonsense bill that will bring uniformity to wireless short codes used today by states to redirect non-emergency calls on the highway away from 9-1-1 call centers and to state highway patrols. Just as we have one, unified number to call in times of need, it is logical to have one unified short code to call when travelers see car malfunctions or suspected drunk drivers along the highway. This bill is an important first step in eliminating traveler confusion and potentially to saving lives.”- Paul Kirby,

Firm to Pay $61,000 Fine for LED Signs

The FCC’s Enforcement Bureau today released a consent decree resolving an investigation into whether a company violated the FCC’s rules in the marketing of LED signs. “To settle this matter, Liantronics admits that it marketed LED signs without the required equipment authorization, labeling, and user manual disclosures, will implement a compliance plan, and will pay a $61,000 civil penalty,” the bureau said in an order in file no. EB-SED-17-00024694. – Courtesy TR Daily

Fewer than One-Third of Providers Have 911 Circuit Diversity, Monitoring

Fewer than one-third of the 188 communications service providers that offer 911 capabilities and filed certifications with the FCC reported having 100% diverse 911 circuits and diverse network monitoring in 2017, according to a report released today by the Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau. But nearly 90% reported having backup power in all central offices that service public safety answering points (PSAPs).

“Of the 188 covered entities that filed certifications, 48 certified that they have diverse 911 circuits to all PSAPs to which they provide 911 circuits. Twenty covered entities certified that they have implemented alternative measures in lieu of circuit diversity for all of the PSAPs that they serve. Fifteen covered entities certified that they provide diverse 911 circuits to some PSAPs and that they have implemented alternative measures to other PSAPs to which they provide 911 circuits,” the report said. “There were 6,769 unique PSAPs listed in the certifications for 911 circuit diversity. The certifications showed that of these 6,769 PSAPs, 3,855 PSAPs had diverse circuits and 2,914 had implemented alternative measures.”

The report added that of those providers that filed certifications, “51 stated that they have diverse monitoring in all of their 911 service areas, and ten stated that they have certified alternative measures in all 911 service areas. Seven covered entities certified that they provide diverse monitoring in some of their 911 service areas and have implemented alternative measures in all other 911 service areas.”

The report also said that of the carriers that submitted certifications, “165 indicated that they have certified backup power in all central offices that serve PSAPs. Nine certified that they have alternative measures for backup power in all such central offices, and four covered entities certified that they have back-up power in some central offices and have implemented alternative measures in all other central offices.”- Paul Kirby,

Parties Weigh in on Ways to Address Misrouted 911 Calls

Public safety and industry entities have weighed in at the FCC with suggestions on ways to ensure that 911 calls place from cellphones reach the correct public safety answering points (PSAPs), even though some say hard data on the scope of the problem is elusive. Parties offered diverse opinions on whether technologies currently exist to address the problem and if they should be deployed, or whether it would make more sense to focus resources on the deployment of next-generation 911 technology.

The comments were filed in PS docket 18-64 in response to a notice of inquiry adopted in March seeking input into ways to address situations where 911 calls from cellphones are misrouted to the wrong PSAP because the location of the cell tower being used by phone is not in the same PSAP jurisdiction as the caller (TR Daily, March 22).

The NOI seeks input on ways call-routing could be improved, and on ways the FCC could facilitate and encourage such improvements. It notes that recent technological improvements could enable routing based on the caller’s actual location.

The item also seeks comments on recommendations regarding location-based routing made by the FCC’s Communications Security, Reliability, and Interoperability Council (CSRIC) in 2016 and asks about the costs and benefits of adopting location-based routing.

In its comments, the Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials-International said that the lack of interoperability among PSAPs can exacerbate the impact of misrouted 911 calls.

“There are still instances where PSAPs have to manually call each other to convey the information about an emergency. This holds true both for misroutes and for other incidents that would benefit from seamless voice and data sharing between PSAPs, such as calls for mutual aid,” APCO said.

“Unfortunately, early-adopter deployments of NG9-1-1 components such as ESInets have shown that the introduction of IP-based technology alone is not solving the interoperability problem,” the filing said.  “Policymakers, industry partners, and 9-1-1 authorities must recognize and work to resolve this problem.”

APCO also said that it “would welcome additional data but anticipates that precisely quantifying the scope of the problem will be difficult. PSAPs may have different policies and capabilities for transferring as well as tracking misrouted calls. Additionally, the dynamic nature of wireless networks can mean that even two 9-1-1 calls made from the same location could route to different PSAPs because one call might route based off of the nearest tower while the other call might connect through a different tower or cell sector that has been set up to route to a different PSAP based on pre-established boundaries. The frequency of misroutes likely varies greatly across PSAPs.”

“The Commission seeks comment on the CSRIC Report’s recommendations about several location-based routing solutions. APCO generally supports the Report’s recommendations. In particular, APCO agrees with the recommendations that the Commission should take steps to ensure that any location estimates considered for routing 9-1-1 calls are accurate, and support the independent testing and analysis of new location technologies that promise significantly increased accuracy and speed. PSAPs are all too often approached by companies promising solutions, without feasible methods to verify the claims or hold the providers accountable,” APCO said.

APCO noted that “the Commission asks whether the NEAD [National Emergency Address Database] will be capable of being leveraged to obtain a caller’s location for the purpose of routing a 9-1-1 call. APCO would urge caution on prematurely considering the use of the NEAD for routing purposes. While the NEAD holds great promise for achieving a dispatchable location solution for wireless 9-1-1 calls, particularly inside buildings, it remains in development. At this point, efforts concerning the NEAD should therefore remain focused on its intended purpose.”

“Finally, the Commission asks what role, if any, it should play in the creation or implementation of standards or practices for location-based routing. Standards are best handled by industry standards bodies. As a general matter, the introduction of new technology and architectural approaches will make it increasingly difficult for 9-1-1 authorities and service providers to be clear on their respective responsibilities for allocating costs,” APCO said. “Accordingly, the Commission can provide much-needed support by continuing to offer clarification and ensuring that PSAPs do not bear costs that the Commission’s rules would otherwise allocate to service providers.”

“Until the IP-native routing features of NG9-1-1 arrive, NENA supports the development and implementation of proven interim processes and technologies for location-based routing. However, NENA respectfully requests caution by the Commission that interim solutions neither cause harm to existing routing mechanisms or delay the implementation of NG9-1-1 native location-based routing,” said the National Emergency Number Association.

“The Notice requests comment on the viability and effectiveness of provisioned or registered civic addresses. Location based routing using civic address can be successful, assuming addresses are accurate. Registered or provisioned addresses have proven to be problematic if provided by customers, because the large percentage of these that are nomadic VoIP are not kept updated by their users,” NENA said. “Automatic location definition without customer action would be highly preferable to support effective 9-1-1 service. Further, wireless carriers do not currently support processes that can help 9-1-1 validate user addresses, or provide them for use by the NG9-1-1 systems for routing control.”

“The Notice also seeks information on ‘how quickly 911 calls can potentially be routed when using device-based hybrid location solutions.’ NENA notes that current trends — especially in the marketplace for third-party solutions — gravitate toward warm-start GPS processes. Assuming the data provided by these processes is properly handled and utilized, initial routing control could be accomplished within 2–3 seconds of call start for calls where the supplemental location data is determined to be dependable and adequate. However, the proprietary nature of these location services, the unknown nature of the databases that underpin them, and their management and maintenance causes questions about how well those services can be safely applied. The concepts noted in the NOI — including the NEAD — are all capable of improving call routing and timing, but not if they are applied only within the traditional routing processing timeframe of CMRS wireless 9-1-1 within the carrier networks. Many of the newer methods for location can provide data well within 5 seconds, but if it is not utilized in a timely way, little progress will be enabled.”

The Texas 911 entities, which include the Texas 9-1-1 Alliance, the Texas Commission on State Emergency Communications, and the Municipal Emergency Communication Districts Association, provided some data on the frequency of 911 calls that are misrouted, saying that “recent data for a reasonably large sample of approximately 13,000 cell sectors in Texas shows that the percentage and number of misroutes varies considerably between sectors and between Public Safety Answering Point (‘PSAP’) serving areas. For example, that data appears to show approximately 70% of the cell sectors indicated no misroutes, while approximately 10% of the sectors have greater than 50% misroutes, with certain enclave areas or cities surrounded by another city often being materially impacted by misroutes. Because the data varies considerably between sectors and between PSAP serving areas, utilizing only a general aggregate average for many sectors can completely obscure a considerable number of misroutes, and obscure the potential benefits of improvements in individual sectors.

“In the absence of sufficient public disclosure of information and informed discussions between various 9-1-1 stakeholders (e.g., wireless service providers, handset manufacturers, third-party vendors, 9-1-1 authorities, etc.), the nature of the competitive market and the sheer number of stakeholders can present some challenges to making informed decisions and strategic transition planning regarding device-based handset initiated location technology solutions,” the entities added. “Given the current frequency of misroutes, in the absence of documentation of material costs to wireless service providers being submitted into the record in this proceeding, at the present time it appears that Commission action would withstand ‘the test of feasibility and functionality relative to costs.’ The manner in which device-based handset initiated location technology solutions and NG9-1-1 transition may sync up together, including interoperability and timing considerations, and how much cost responsibility is placed on wireless service providers as compared to the NG9-1-1 systems, are appropriate issues to clarify in this proceeding.”

The filing continued, “Delaying the delivery of 9-1-1 calls more than fractionally beyond 6 seconds to achieve LBR [location-based routing] should generally be avoided. This is especially the case when other alternatives appear to be available to achieve improvements towards LBR. Finally, with regard to mobile VoIP, continuing to provide only a registered and provisioned civic address from a smartphone or tablet for mobile VoIP 9-1-1 calls is quite concerning. Accordingly, the Texas 9-1-1 Entities urge the Commission, at a minimum and as recommended in the NENA Non-Mobile Technical Information Document, to consider the issue of a location sanity check when a customer with mobile VoIP changes locations and has not reregistered a caller civic location.”

“There are a number of measures which can and should be taken to remedy Phase I Misroutes of wireless calls,” said the Boulder (Colo.) Regional Emergency Telephone Service Authority. “The first two are for wireless providers to consider jurisdictional boundaries in siting and cell sectorization decisions, and for providers to evaluate available data to determine which existing cell sites produce a high percentage of Phase I Misroutes. For sites identified to have a high percentage of misroutes, remedies are available and should be considered in consultation with PSAPs from (i) flagging for dispatchers calls from cell sites or sectors with high percentages of Phase I Misroutes, and low percentages of misroutes, (ii) modifying orientation of cell sectors, to implementing Phase II Routing or ‘Phase III Routing:’ routing calls based on a location technology which is more granular than Phase I Routing and can provide a TTFF [time-to-first-fix] of five-seconds or less.”

The filing continued, “The 9-1-1 system and services must accommodate a variety of location technologies which are suitable to different environments, or may be developed in the future. A 9-1-1 location technology should be secure, reliable and provide data in a format consistent with other location technologies. BRETSA raises the prospect of terrestrial GPS signals embedded in high power broadcast signals capable of penetrating buildings, or special purpose beacons. These terrestrial GPS signals would allow WiFi, Bluetooth or BLE access points or beacons to determine their coordinates and signal timing requirements, and in turn provide GPS signals to devices located in indoor locations. This would require Commission requirements or authorizations of the terrestrial GPS transmitters, as well as of devices which would utilize these signals to become GPS transmitters themselves.”

“Given the potential synergy between the various efforts the FCC has already enabled and the vast technologies at hand the FCC should simply replace the cell site based requirement with a device based routing requirement on a short time-line for implementation,” said Robert Oenning, former enhanced 911 administrator for Washington state. “The question is not if device location based routing can be done but rather how those in the industry who have already demonstrated an ability to collaborate on improving 911 services can be enabled to make it happen.   The action the FCC takes to move forward location based routing should be tempered to assure that the industry does not again get trapped again into retaining 911 methodologies well past the point where it is practicable to move toward improved systems.”

“As the wireless industry continues to deploy technologies that enhance location information about wireless 9-1-1 calls, the Commission is right to ask whether new technologies can also reduce the number of 9-1-1 calls delivered to PSAPs in neighboring jurisdictions,” CTIA said. “The Commission should use the record developed here to carefully weigh the costs and benefits of different policy approaches to improvements in wireless 9-1-1 call routing. For example, the Commission should assess the tradeoffs associated with different 9-1-1 call routing mechanisms, such as the potential for a general delay to routing all 9-1-1 calls. The Commission also should consider whether location-based routing solutions would be better suited for, and more easily implemented in, the next generation 9-1-1 (NG911) environment. Finally, the Commission should consider alternative methods that can prevent misroutes and/or help to mitigate the impact of misrouted 9-1-1 calls, such as encouraging additional coordination among PSAPs and by PSAPs with wireless providers.”

“Such alternative techniques can be implemented far more efficiently and effectively than wholesale, standalone changes to current routing mechanisms,” CTIA added. “Therefore, as part of this proceeding, the Commission should examine and draw attention to successful techniques that can reduce misrouted 9-1-1 calls, as well as those that can mitigate the impact of calls that are misrouted.”

T-Mobile US, Inc., said it “supports improving 911 call routing, utilizing emerging location technologies, and the transition to NG911 systems. The technological improvements capable of producing high-accuracy/low-latency locations that are becoming available for use in 911 solutions have been aggressively sought-after and are welcomed by all stakeholders. But today, the single most important contribution that public safety and the Commission can make in this regard is to encourage PSAPs to expeditiously make the transition to NG911, so that public safety and consumers can benefit from these technological advancements.”

T-Mobile added “that focusing limited resources in an attempt to add location-based 911 call routing to legacy 911 systems would offer a poor return for a very significant level of effort. T-Mobile instead proposes that the concerted effort to improve 911 call routing be directly associated with the transition to NG911 systems. T-Mobile is already taking steps to help encourage this transition and subsequent testing and refinement of such improved call routing methods. In this effort, T-Mobile believes all parties would benefit from a better understanding of the real-world trade-offs between minimizing the delay of 911 call placement, and the ability to more precisely route the call to the desired PSAP. Which of these parameters is the highest priority? How long is too long to delay a 911 call to improve the precision of call routing? With better insight into these types of system design trade-offs, and a concerted effort from all relevant stakeholders, there is a strong potential for improvement.”

“Based on trial experience, Verizon agrees that location-based routing is technically feasible and can mitigate (although not eliminate) the number of instances in which 911 calls are routed to PSAPs outside the caller’s jurisdiction,” Verizon Communications, Inc., said. “The Commission is thus right to seek input on the measures that wireless, Next Generation 911 (‘NG911’) providers, and PSAPs will need to undertake to ensure that consumers benefit from location-based routing of 911 calls.”

“Stakeholders will need to carefully allocate the roles and responsibilities of wireless service providers and state/local governments in deploying and maintaining LBR capabilities to ensure that LBR is deployed efficiently and effectively,” Verizon added. “Most important for consumers’ public safety needs, LBR should be implemented in manner that does not undermine the reliability of wireless 911 call routing. That, as a practical matter, will require the continued availability of cell sector-based routing for the foreseeable future. Finally, in the interim period, the Commission should support the use of existing best practices to improve and maintain the reliability of cell sector-based routing.”

The Voice on the Net Coalition said the CSRIC report “does not address the specific challenges faced by interconnected VoIP providers (and their third party 911 vendors) who may not have the same access to location information as CMRS providers. Notwithstanding the challenges, it’s likely that location-based technologies will provide more accurate and timely routing information for mobile VoIP 911 calls than the required registered location. By moving to a routing paradigm based on acquisition of a real-time location calculation, the FCC and industry standards bodies have the opportunity to significantly improve emergency calling services by routing mobile VoIP calls to a more appropriate PSAP. To the extent that location information can be used in a manner that rapidly and efficiently routes a 911 call to the most appropriate PSAP, VON believes there is great promise in leveraging these available technologies. There is much work to be done to effectuate a new emergency call routing paradigm, but the foundation is evident in the location capabilities available in the marketplace today.”

VON also asked “that the FCC take a broader view than simply the US market. While we recognize that the FCC’s authority does not extend beyond the US, the FCC can be a leader by encouraging the use of available technologies through consistent technical standards developed across the globe.”

“The location accuracy problems inherent with the routing of wireless 9-1-1 calls can be addressed by migrating to device-based hybrid location solutions, which combine data from various sensors on the user’s mobile device and provide the best information about the user’s actual location based on context and environment. Numerous test results confirm the viability of these device-based hybrid location solutions, which can provide more accurate location information on a more timely basis as compared to the legacy 9-1-1 routing architecture,” Motorola Solutions, Inc., said.

“The Commission should use this proceeding to explore the creation of incentives for deploying location based routing technologies. Such incentives should include sufficient and sustained levels of funding for Next Generation 9-1-1 (‘NG9-1-1’) deployments, of which device-based hybrid location solutions should be an integral part,” Motorola added. “Specifically, the Commission should explore the creation of incentives for: (1) ongoing testing and pilot activity validating improvement/benefits derived from location based routing technology; (2) PSAPs to use location based routing technology; and (3) the migration to NG9-1-1 and the use of location based routing technology at the state and local levels.”

“As the Commission recognizes, the path forward to achieve successful 9LBR [911 LBR] requires striking a balance between the industry’s concerns over disruption to existing processes and that of providing more accurate information more quickly to aid in essential lifesaving services,” Comtech Telecommunications Corp. said. “Indispensable elements along this path include, identifying and measuring the problem, consistent use of technical terms and operational processes, application of appropriate (existing or new) industry standards, specifically addressing the ‘delay of call’ issue, safeguarding the sources and destinations of location data, and promoting consistent and systematic testing of call and location data. Also, new entrants need to understand and accept that public safety operates differently than other business arenas. Public safety isn’t a game or a greenfield for the latest consumer product fad, it’s a highly regulated industry devoted to the public good. Serious vendors are encouraged, respected, and protected; less dedicated vendors may not be.”

Comtech continued, “While technological advancement brings new ways of solving difficult problems, much of today’s well-meaning progress is being promoted in a vendor-specific, proof-of-concept approach that competes with the time-tested and more inclusive public safety coordinated, and standardized approach. While Comtech shares in the desire for innovation, some of the current side effects experienced in the fray to overturn the ‘status quo’ of what is today’s emergency location processes include[:] lack of common goals, the inability to verify results, unanswered questions around whether there is statistical significance, and unknowns as to whether these experiments are replicable.

“Wireless 9-1-1 location based routing is not a panacea for all of 9-1-1’s ills, and the quest for 9LBR cannot impede the goal of maintaining reliable wireless 9-1-1 calling. It is imperative that for 9-1-1, we achieve consistent, reliable methods and solutions, avoiding at all costs, experiments that potentially jeopardize ‘live’ 9-1-1 calls without carrier and FCC notification,” Comtech concluded.

West Safety Services, Inc., said it “has experienced encouraging test results for handset-initiated location technologies that utilize device-based hybrid location information. Unlike network-initiated technologies, calls to 9-1-1 over these handset-initiated technologies do not have to traverse complex carrier networks or wait to reach the carrier’s routing element before initiating the process for location determination. West Safety believes these handset-initiated location technologies offer promise for significantly reducing the PSAP transfer rate. West Safety cautions the Commission, however, that carriers should maintain control over any implementations of device-based hybrid location solutions. Permitting third-party applications to deliver locations directly to PSAPs without interconnecting to the carrier’s routing element should be avoided. Carriers are in the exclusive position to ensure location uniformity, security, reliability and validation under centralized Commission oversight and clear jurisdiction.”

NextNav LLC said that the FCC “should ensure that any location-based routing solution that is employed for E911 calls incorporates adequate backup protection in scenarios where a technology might be used by a wireless carrier for location compliance, but fails to timely achieve an accurate fix in all instances. For example, in those cases in which a carrier employs A-GPS, other location technologies should be available to support the routing of calls originating from indoor locations where A-GPS may not produce a location fix. In addition, if a DBH [device-based hybrid] approach is used, consideration must be given to whether the resulting location information is sufficiently reliable to support call routing, particularly in communities and neighborhoods where broadband penetration is low (such as in low income areas), where Wi-Fi devices may be subject to frequent relocation (such as college dorms or apartment complexes), or in cases in which individuals may have turned off the location functions on their wireless handsets due to privacy concerns.”

NextNav also said that its location technology could be deployed to quickly ensure that 911 calls are accurately routed to the correct PSAP.

LaaSer Critical Communications said it “has created patented technology that pinpoints a 911 caller’s location using any mobile device, efficiently routes them to the appropriate Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP), and provides the emergency operator and responders with precise location information.” It said “that the answer to the question ‘what is the best way to avoid delays’ caused by ‘misroutes’ is inclusion of DBH location within the existing wireless carrier routing systems. Such a deployment leverages the best of what DBH has to offer, ensures that routing improvements are only ever additive with existing systems providing a consistent and reliable base level of performance, allows for ubiquitous PSAP availability, and is available in current-state environments, NG911 environments, and transitional environments.”

Precision Broadband LLC described its prototype fixed broadband 911 location and routing system and said that “[b]y utilizing fixed broadband for 911, state governments would be justified, and legally empowered, to assess 911 fees on home broadband service (as is done today on landline and mobile phone service). When applied to the 106 million US broadband households, an additional $1 billion annually could be collected for 911 services. These fees, along with revenues from new entrants in the 911 market, could be used to implement the solutions being developed by Precision Broadband and other market participants as well as expediting the deployment of NG911 technologies.”

Onvoy LLC (d/b/a Inteliquent) said it “appreciates and supports the Commission’s efforts to solve the very real problem of wireless 9-1-1 call misroutes due to the outdated cell-tower-based call routing system. Inteliquent’s experience counsels that device-based solutions are the way forward to delivering fast and accurate location information to the correct PSAP at the outset. Inteliquent is already working with its partners on developing such a solution, and looks forward to real-world testing of the solution later this year. Any steps taken by the Commission should facilitate and encourage device-based location routing for 9-1-1 calls, and avoid solutions that rely on centralized databases that are costly to update and maintain at the level necessary for use in emergency services.”

Mission Critical Partners LLC encouraged the FCC “to promote the uniform adoption of location-based routing technologies, especially with universal transition to Next Generation 911 (NG911). Particularly, the Commission should encourage the implementation of Advanced Mobile Location (AML) or the vendor-specific variations, e.g., Emergency Location Service (ELS), a proven life-saving technology. MCP believes the Commission can support the implementation of location-based routing by removing liability barriers that could be raised by the Commercial Mobile Radio Service (CMRS) providers and NG911 solution providers for using third-party location.”

Charity Feb of Camas, Wash., whose 911 call about her husband, who had a fatal heart attack in 2012, was routed in Portland, Ore., thanked the FCC for launching its proceeding. – Paul Kirby,