9-1-1 is a lifeline to those in need, so it's essential that all emergency response and 9-1-1 communication services are as reliable and efficient as possible. On December 22nd, 2022, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) released a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) to improve the accuracy of wireless 9-1-1 calls and texts for NG9-1-1 capable Public Safety Answering Points (PSAPs).
The recently approved document lists proposals and requirements to help modernize 9-1-1 wireless services and increase call accuracy when time matters most. The release of the FCC’s NPRM is extremely exciting news for public safety professionals and civilians as it proposes a crucial step forward for 9-1-1.
In this blog post from our trusted NG9-1-1 providers and experts at NGA, we’ll take a closer look at the FCC’s NPRM proposal for improving wireless 9-1-1 calls and texts. Our team will also discuss what this means for the public safety industry.
Table of Contents:
What Does the FCC's NPRM Mean?
What is an NPRM?
Understanding The FCC NPRM Proposal
The NPRM Implications
Improving Location Accuracy for Emergency Services: Why It’s Essential
How Will The FCC NPRM Rules Help Improve Public Safety?
What Does The FCC NPRM Mean For the General Public?
People Also Ask:
What is FCC NPRM?
Following the review of public comments, the FCC might issue a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM). This document invites all interested parties to weigh in and suggest changes or modifications before the final rules come into effect.
The Commission’s latest Notice of Proposed Rulemaking outlines changes to existing regulations and seeks feedback from the public on these proposed modifications.
What is included in a notice of proposed rulemaking?
With the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM), agencies can confidently address and resolve any issues or pursue their desired objectives. This official document succinctly outlines their plan to do so.
The Federal Register mandates that all suggested regulations be publicized so the public can become aware of them and have a chance to present their feedback.
The FCC's NPRM seeks to improve the accuracy of location information associated with wireless 9-1-1 calls and texts. This is especially important in rural areas, where cell towers are far apart, and pinpointing a caller's exact location can take time and effort.
The rule will require wireless carriers to develop technology that provides more accurate location information for emergency callers, such as live streaming video or photos taken by cell phone cameras during emergencies.
It will also provide guidelines for how wireless carriers should handle wireless 9-1-1 calls and texts from multiple devices connected to a single account.
An NPRM is a document that outlines proposed changes or modifications to an existing rule or regulation. In this case, the FCC has proposed changes to its current rules regarding wireless 9-1-1 calls and texts.
It includes updates to location accuracy requirements for wireless 9-1-1 callers and provisions for dispatchers to receive photos and videos from callers during emergency situations. The proposal also includes language requiring carriers to transmit text-to-9-1-1 messages within 10 seconds of receipt.
The FCC's proposal is divided into two parts:
Part 1 of the notice requires wireless carriers to prioritize 9-1-1 calls over other types of voice traffic when their networks are congested. This will help ensure that people in need of emergency assistance can get through to a PSAP quickly and reliably. Additionally, this requirement would apply to VoIP services and cellular networks.
Part 2 of the proposal requires wireless carriers to provide NG9-1-1-capable PSAPs with timely information about 9-1-1 callers' locations when they text in an emergency. This is especially important because texting has become increasingly popular among younger generations, yet many PSAPS still need to locate texters accurately in a crisis. The NPRM proposes that all location information provided by wireless carriers must meet specific accuracy standards set forth by the FCC.
The FCC NPRM proposal has several implications for public safety industry professionals. First and foremost, wireless carriers must upgrade their networks and technology to comply with these new requirements. This could be costly, but it also means greater reliability and accuracy when assisting in emergencies.
It also means that PSAPS must upgrade their own systems to NG9-1-1, or Next Generation 9-1-1, to take advantage of this new technology.
When someone in need calls or texts 9-1-1 from their smartphone or smart device, it’s critical that emergency responders can locate them quickly and precisely. Unfortunately, PSAPs and other 9-1-1 services agencies still don’t have the technology to accurately pinpoint a caller’s exact location, which could be the difference between lives saved and tragedy in an emergency. The newly proposed FCC NPRM rules would require wireless providers to deliver more accurate location information when someone calls or texts 9-1-1, including indoor locations.
Under the NPRM, wireless providers must comply with updated guidelines on submitting caller/texter location information to Public Safety Answering Points (PSAPs).
The implementation of these new technologies has the potential to reduce response times for first responders during emergencies significantly. By providing more accurate location information, responders can quickly locate those who need assistance without wasting valuable time and resources trying to figure out their location.
Additionally, access to an individual’s physical address could further speed up response times by allowing responders to understand their surroundings before arriving on the scene. Ultimately, this means faster response times which can mean improved public safety outcomes in emergencies.
With the FCC’s proposed rules, individuals can benefit by being able to contact 9-1-1 faster than ever before. The ability to submit text messages rather than placing a voice call may be instrumental in situations where speaking on the phone could put someone in danger—such as domestic violence situations—or if they are unable to speak due to disability or language barriers.
Emergency telecommunications technology, like NG9-1-1, makes it possible for emergency personnel to locate people more quickly who may have difficulty describing their exact location due to unfamiliarity with the area or because they cannot talk on the phone due to medical conditions like stroke symptoms or seizures.
NG9-1-1 is a critical service that provides emergency responders with the information they need to help save lives. While the infrastructure offers faster, more accessible 9-1-1 services, the FCC recognizes that more work must be done to make emergency services even more reliable and efficient.
With its new NPRM, the FCC is proposing a number of changes that would revolutionize 9-1-1 wireless services and emergency response nationwide.
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