9-1-1 service to get new life

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When it comes to calling for help in an emergency, calling 9-1-1 has always been “Option A.” Service is expected to be not only quick, but efficient and safe. Most get it. However, if you are unable to speak due to injury or unconsciousness or are hard of hearing or deaf, help may be harder to get.

This is the case because much of the technology powering the 9-1-1 service is outdated. But Congress is looking to change that.

Back in December, the House Subcommittee on Communications and Technology adopted an amendment to H.R. 2629, also known as the Next Generation 9-1-1 Advancement Act, and seeks to provide $250 million in funding over the next five years to improve technology, services and training related to N.G. 9-1-1.

“Outdated technology costs lives,” said Ron Cramer, president of Columbus-based Digital Data Technologies, Inc., whose company is a leading NG9-1-1-solutions provider.

“I applaud Congress for taking up this important issue and for working to ensure life-saving technology is affordable and available to all.”

Next Generation 9-1-1 (or NG9-1-1) refers to the planned enhancement of 9-1-1 services nationwide to allow public safety answering points to receive text messages, pictures, video and even data-only “calls” from smoke alarms, telematics or personal medical devices.

Essentially, this means that even if you can’t speak directly to the person on the other end of the line, help will still come.

NG9-1-1 also requires a single, unambiguous, site-specific address to be matched to every 9-1-1 call – including those coming from apartment complexes, office buildings and mobile home parks.

Under current 9-1-1 practices, address ranges or a single address point for a multi-unit structure is all that is typically used, yet that can significantly slow response time. Assigning a specific address to each unit in a building will significantly increase response time to locate callers, or devices that generate 9-1-1 calls, in multi-unit structures.

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