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Can 911 Keep Up with Technology and Society?

911, the emergency number that has saved thousands of lives during emergencies over a period of five decades seems to losing out to the fast changing communication advancements. The ubiquitous three digit emergency numbers in the US seems to be grappling with the latest VoIP or Voice over Internet Technology. Though the E911 is being readied for use, the agencies are still struggling with the hordes of calls coming from different channels. This might be a little dangerous as people who are desperate to get to an agency will find it really difficult if the agency is not able to track their locations.

It is not easy to track the numbers from the mobile devices as compared to the landline numbers. The present geo-location technology used by most agencies is not in sync with the latest advancement in VoIP. Thus, determining the location of the caller is difficult for an agency. Another problem that the current system faces is that it cannot accept texted messages. It simply cuts down users who are more comfortable texting. However, of late there have been initiatives to include texting to emergency numbers. Technology overhaul is needed on a large scale to roll out the texting service to all the locations in the US.

The problem of hacking is something that services have to be aware of because there are numerous instances of the number being misused. The agencies are keeping their options open as far as the complete switch to VoIP is considered because they know that the emergency calls are to be treated differently. The calls are made over the Internet, so the callers have to provide their current phone number to be located without any hassle. Compared to the landlines, VoIP offers numerous additional features during emergencies and disasters.

The FCC or Federal Communications Commission has issued several guidelines for using E911 services. The guidelines will ensure that the VoIP users are able to provide their locations and call back numbers to the personnel attending their emergency call when they dial 911. The VoIP providers on the other hand need to get the customer’s permanent address while they enroll them for the services. The system will then store the information and use it when calls are received from the number.

So what exactly happens when a VoIP users calls 911?

The VoIP Position Center or the VPC receives the ANI or the calling number when a caller places a call using his VoIP number. The ANI is then used to track the caller’s location from the database. Now, the system uses its automatic routing rules to redirect the call to the designated Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP). The PSAP then provides the location and phone number of the caller to the emergency personnel.

Emergency services like the 911 are finding it a bit difficult to adjust to the changing ground scenarios. Hopefully things will fall in line quickly. VoIP has several advantages for the callers as well as the emergency personnel as they will not have to scramble for addresses and numbers of the people in distress. The automated system will ensure the routing of the calls to the emergency personnel when the caller makes a call. This saves a lot of time, which is vital during an emergency.
Despite all the technical issues that the 911 is facing, we firmly believe that the government agencies will be back with the updated service within a few months only. Extension of VoIP services to all the residents of US and their use in calling the 911 service will be made robust in the coming days.
About The Author
Michelle Patterson is excited with the new technologies that are threatening to change the way we stay in touch and communicate, particular in business. She works with companies that are introducing these technologies to make understanding them easy for regular people. She is an expertize in VoIP too.

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