There’s a Dinosaur in your system… oh that’s just a Selective Router!

Posted on Feb 19, 2019

Are you ready to stop talking about NG9-1-1 and get back to the business of what you do best – serving and protecting the residents and visitors of your community? We’ve got your back.

One challenge in understanding Next Generation 9-1-1 is that we often talk about it in terms of solutions, or products, rather than levels of maturity. Many know the basic building blocks are the Next Generation Core Service (NGCS) and the Emergency Services IP network (ESInet), but it seems to go a little off the rails after that. And well, to put it plainly, not everything on the market will get you to Next Generation 9-1-1.

Getting to true Next Generation 9-1-1 means putting a NENA i3 compliant solution in place of your legacy infrastructure. When the conversion to new technology is complete, the Selective Routers and ALI systems are decommissioned, and all 9-1-1 calls are routed by NGCS to arrive at the PSAP via the ESInet.

The Problem with Selective Routers

Selective Routers are meant to work with a legacy system. It goes a little like this: a 9-1-1 call hits the local exchange carrier, and then it goes to the Selective Router which decides where to send it based on the ALI database. This works ok for landlines. However, with wireless or a Voice-over-IP 9-1-1 call, the above process repeats (dipping into that same ALI database and that same copper wire network created in the 1970s) and then it goes to the emergency services gateway converting the call back to the legacy technology that the Selective Router can understand. Even if the call originates as IP…and even if your current provider uses an IP network to deliver calls. That “monkey in the middle,” boat anchor, or whatever you’d like to call it, is holding you back.

The takeaway here: no matter how advanced your current technology, if you are using a Selective Router, you are stepping your capabilities back in time. Not to mention the more steps you introduce from the caller to the PSAP, the more potential you have for something to go wrong either during the call (drops, outages, misrouting) or with the technology as it ages (replacement, upgrades, End-of-life). There are many reasons for replacing old technology; two of the biggest are potential for failure and security. Old technology is vulnerable for many reasons:

  • It’s not compatible with the modern way we communicate today
  • Aging technology has holes that are easy to exploit
  • There are potentially many single points of failure in utilizing a Selective Router
  • Legacy tech is not designed to be part of a patchwork of new technology Using old technology leads to security issues, slows you down, contributes to outages, and makes it nearly impossible to scale up. Besides, vintage only counts for cars and sports memorabilia.

If Selective Routers are the Problem, what is the Solution?

Next Generation 9-1-1 is more than the buzzworthy features of streaming, text, and greater data transfer. The most important part of Next Generation 9-1-1 is that it supplies the technology that will replace the old analog systems, provide compatibility with the wireless world in which we live, and ensure that every call is routed correctly, swiftly, using the location of the caller (not the cell tower), and with the information that our call takers and dispatchers need to get help on the way in a matter of seconds instead of minutes.

NG9-1-1 is designed to increase efficiency while decreasing the cost associated with operating dual systems or using supplemental data. Replacing your E9-1-1 with NG9-1-1 provides a more resilient network and provides the scalability and interoperability that you need to do your job.

As a specific example, with the work we are doing in Los Angeles County, California, those PSAPs will no longer be hamstrung by the legacy network. Replacing outdated technology will result in total reliability, accurate call routing, and elimination of service outages for the most populous county in the United States. Our system has a proven capacity to process call volumes ten times the volume of the entire state of California in a moment’s notice. For us, that’s the best part. Emergencies don’t give notice, and we are proud to offer a solution that comes through without fail for people on both sides of the 9-1-1 call.

How Does NG9-1-1 Work?

With Next Generation 9-1-1, calls enter the network natively. You will drop the Selective Router, the ALI database, the emergency services gateway (and their recurring costs), and move to an all-IP interconnection. You will not need supplemental data from a third-party database or some other back door system to get location information. Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) with Presence Information Data Format Location-Object (PIDF-LO) will provide that. Now with SIP, PIDF-LO will carry location natively and directly to the call taker so they can see it immediately without going to a third-party database.

This sounds Great! But I have some Roadblocks to NG9-1-1

We understand that funding can be a challenge. However, a patchwork of technology is prone to error, vulnerable to outages, requires extra equipment, and is expensive to maintain! In the long run, better systems help you reduce costs, increase productivity, and prepare you for what’s next. Let’s chat about the challenges you face, or questions you have – because friends don’t let friends struggle with technology decisions! That duct tape won’t hold forever. It’s time to stop patching and make the move to technology for today and tomorrow.