911_network_management

Bringing Modern Technology to Today’s PSAP Requires a New Approach for 911 Network Management

Public safety agencies are implementing Internet Protocol (IP)-based, broadband systems, called next generation 911 (NG911), that will enable communications simply not possible with legacy narrowband 911 systems. While the impacts of this transition will improve the way in which emergency response is delivered, public 911 network management becomes considerably more complicated after an NG911 system has been implemented.

Change 1: Management of, and accountability for, a NG911 system will be owned by the 911 authority instead of the telco.

Change 2: The PSAP bears responsibility for maintaining the accuracy of its GIS data and its compliance with NENA’s NG911 standards.

Change 3: NG911 environments are far more susceptible to cyber attacks from inside and outside the PSAP.

This whitepaper from Mission Critical Partners discusses the steps 911 authorities and their PSAPs need to take to watch over their systems in a next-generation environment, and how much more effort and expertise is required to keep NG911 networks and systems stable, performing as designed, and secure.

Download the whitepaper.

May 1st, 2018

Posted In: Lifecycle Management Services

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PSAP_regionalization

MCP Helps the Imperial Valley Communication Authority Pursue PSAP Regionalization

“With MCP’s help, we’ve identified the issues and challenges that stand between us and a successful regionalization effort. Now that we know it could work for us, we need to determine how we make it a reality and execute on that plan.”

Mark Schmidt
Emergency Communications Project Coordinator
Imperial County Communication Authority, Imperial County, California

Challenge:

Imperial Valley, California, is served by four public safety answering points (PSAPs) that provide call-taking and dispatching services for the Imperial Valley. The Imperial Valley Communications Authority (IVECA), in conjunction with the San Diego County Regional Communications System , provides public safety voice and data communications to more than 200 local, state and federal agencies in San Diego and Imperial counties.

The County’s PSAPs were already sharing technology resources, but wanted to figure out if sharing services also made sense in terms of staffing and maintenance costs.

How MCP Helped:

MCP teamed with IVECA to conduct a feasibility study that laid the groundwork for MCP’s recommendations and an initial plan for moving forward with regionalizing the County’s PSAPs, and produced a report for IVECA that outlined:

  • current condition benchmarks
  • an assessment of existing technology
  • projected call volumes and workloads in a regionalized PSAP
  • projected staffing levels needed to meet call volumes and workloads
  • potential PSAP consolidation models, as well as new organizational and governance structures

Results:

MCP delivered the report to the IVECA executive board in April 2017 that identified the issues and challenges that stand between the IVECA and a successful regionalization effort, helping demonstrate to the organization a methodical approach for moving forward with PSAP regionalization in order to accomplish operational and staffing efficiencies, and ultimately, reduce costs.

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April 23rd, 2018

Posted In: Consulting, Facility & Operations Planning

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San_Francisco_PSAP

Client Success Story: 911 Call-Handling System Procurement and Implementation Support

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The Challenge:

The city of San Franscisco Department of Emergency Management (DEM) sought a robust, modern call-handling system that would support its 42 call-taking positions. A second requirement was a path to a National Emergency Number Association (NENA) i3-compliant system and meeting public safety standards for performance and reliability. They looked for a partner that could provide guidance defining requirements, as well as during the procurement and implementation process.

The Solution:

The San Francisco DEM partnered with Mission Critical Partners to provide technology procurement guidance and implementation support. MCP helped San Francisco build a strong foundation of requirements before issuing a request for proposal (RFP) by extensively engaging a large team of stakeholders to define what was most desirable from a new system.

“MCP’s guidance during the procurement stage was invaluable. Their familiarity working with 911 call-handling system vendors and their knowledge of the newest technology and vendors available played an essential role helping us feel more comfortable with the requirements-gathering and RFP process,” said Jun Chen, PMO manager, city and county of San Francisco.

MCP helped the agency build a strong RFP that included use cases, detailed specifications and stakeholder input, and led them through the RFP process. Once the new call-handling system was selected, the team completed a vigorous testing process as well as implementation support in the form of support and oversight during the cut-over process. In the meantime, the agency’s leadership was empowered to stay focused on maintaining their daily operations while MCP ensured a seamless procurement and implementation process.

The Results:

The San Francisco DEM cut-over to the new call-handling system in November 2016, and since them, has witnessed improved 911 call-answering times. While this cannot be directly attributed to the new system, it’s a contributing factor. MCP played a key role in helping them define a sound strategy and a strategic vision for deploying a call-handling solution that builds a strong foundation for transitioning to Next Generation 911.

 

April 13th, 2018

Posted In: Consulting, Network 9-1-1, Next Generation 911 Networks

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The Evolution of the Emergency Communications System

The evolution of emergency communications systems and response efforts in public safety answering points continues, but needs to accelerate to take advantage of emerging opportunities. In this whitepaper, we examine the critical factors affecting future evolution, and the key actions needed to accomplish it.

Introduction

The public safety sector and emergency communications has reached an inflection point. Technology has evolved dramatically, and the needs and expectations of the public served by PSAPs have evolved as well. Data has overtaken voice in terms of importance. As a result, PSAPs need systems that are capable of leveraging the enormous amount of data is that already available, yet inaccessible today. Legacy call-handling equipment equipment that has existed for the last 50 years needs to be replaced with new equipment capable of processing calls and data originating from digital, Internet-Protocol (IP)-based devices.

This whitepaper explores the factors driving the need for PSAP evolution, and provides insights into how to accomplish it. Some of the driving factors of the emergency communications system’s evolution includes:

  • Roughly 70 percent of 911 calls are placed from digital, IP devices
  • Next Generation 911 (NG911), along with the nationwide public safety broadband network (NPSBN) being implemented by FirstNet will bring situational awareness and operational efficiency to new levels, especially if they are integrated
  • More than 10 billion sensors are in place today and are generating data today. These sensors generate a tremendous amount of data that would have a seismic impact on emergency response
  • Social media represents a tremendously effective, yet virtually untapped resource resource

To learn more about what’s required to evolve the emergency communications system, PSAPs and telecommunicators will need to look and behave very differently than they do today.

Learn more by downloading this whitepaper.

 

April 9th, 2018

Posted In: Consulting, Facility & Operations Planning, Network 9-1-1, Next Generation 911 Networks

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psap_911center

The Technical Evolution of the PSAP and 911 Center in an NG911 and FirstNet Environment

After the nationwide public safety broadband network is implemented, under the auspices of the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet)—and Next Generation 911 (NG911) systems are implemented, the manner in which public safety answering points (PSAPs) and 911 centers respond to events will be dramatically different than today.

New data systems and thousands of sensors will provide new and different capabilities for emergency response, including things like real-time video streams, state-of-the-art surveillance systems, geofencing, video communication with first responders and social media alerts and monitoring. These data inputs will raise situational awareness in the PSAP to levels unimaginable.

Much work needs to be done by our nation’s 911 centers if they want to harness the full potential of these networks.

This whitepaper discusses the technical impacts PSAPs will need to overcome including:

  1. Interface development
  2. Data analytics systems
  3. On-site or cloud-based data storage
  4. Cyber security

Download the whitepaper to learn more (registration required.)

January 3rd, 2018

Posted In: Next Generation 911 Networks

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Mission Critical Partners Helps South Carolina Counties Resolve Wireless Location Integrity Challenges

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BACKGROUND

Wireless location is one of the biggest priorities for any public safety answering point (PSAP). The inability to accurately locate an emergency caller makes it intrinsically more difficult for telecommunicators to determine the appropriate response to an incident. Location issues exist with 911 calls to PSAPs because of the ever-increasing number of wireless emergency calls, the addition of new cell sites to networks, and changing demographic and jurisdictional boundaries.

THE CHALLENGE

Several counties in South Carolina suspected that PSAPs in the state were experiencing wireless location accuracy issues. The relatively high percentage of 911 calls that were being misrouted to the wrong PSAP was the big red flag.

The South Carolina counties selected Mission Critical Partners to complete wireless integrity testing and determine the root cause of the issue.

THE SOLUTION

MCP subject matters experts conducted wireless integrity testing in fifty locations that were identified across each county.  Tourist areas were targeted because callers in these locations typically will not know where they are, which makes wireless 911 calls from them more difficult to process. Locations where wireless 911 call activity tends to be higher were also targeted.

Four cellular phones, one from each of the major carriers, were used during testing, and a statistically valid testing model that is replicable was applied to determine accuracy. The testing took two weeks to complete and revealed several interesting facts.

THE RESULTS

The wireless integrity testing conducted by MCP provided the counties with empirical data it can use to validate the aforementioned anomalies, which is the first step toward working collaboratively with the wireless carriers serving the state to resolve wireless integrity issues, especially in advance of FCC accuracy rules tightening in April 2017.

January 3rd, 2018

Posted In: Next Generation 911 Networks

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Today’s 911 Technology Requires Modernization

Next Gen 911 is a standards-based, all-Internet Protocol (IP) emergency communications infrastructure enabling voice and multimedia 911 communications, and the sharing of this information with field responders and emergency managers. Today, access to 911 is limited for most to a voice call; in contract, NG911 will enable the ability to transmit photos, videos, and other existing and future forms of broadband-enabled data, in addition to voice, to 911 professionals. Implementation of NG911 will:

  • increase compatibility with emerging communications technologies
  • enhance the flexibility, reliability and survivability of 911 systems during major disasters
  • improve emergency response for the public and first responders
  • and reduce the overall cost of operating the 911 system.

Failing to act in a timely manner to initiate the NG911 transition will not prolong deployment, but increase costs, risk incompatibility with emerging communications trends, increase security risks for the 911 system, and create missed opportunities for improved emergency response.

A coordinated Next Gen 911 approach is best

This whitepaper outlines what state and local 911 leaders should make their first priority when it comes to Next Gen 911 implementation, and discusses the key aspects of any Next Gen 911 Strategic Plan in order to guide a successful, coordinated transition to Next Gen 911.

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January 2nd, 2018

Posted In: Next Generation 911 Networks

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Bringing the theory of ‘diffusion of innovations’ to Next Gen 911

Going forward, out with the old and in with the new should be the goal—but to do that, the sector will need some help

The 911 sector has struggled historically with shedding legacy networks and systems, and is following suite in the transition to Next Gen 911. This report discusses how a “planned retirement” is one way that the industry can buck that trend.

It looks at a well-known theory by Everett M. Rogers, described as the ‘diffusion of innovations’ to the public safety sector. The theory discusses how innovation, such as Next Generation 911 (NG911), plays out within a given social group, like public safety communications, and breaks the group down into give distinct categories. These categories include:

  • Innovators – or those who have already implemented NG911 systems or have deployed ESInets
  • Early adopters – or those who have implemented 911 call handling systems that are compliant with NENA’s i3 standards
  • Early majority – or those who are beginning to migrate to NG911
  • Late majority – or those who are less likely to migrate to NG911 until it’s been proven successful or when a federal mandate forces their hand
  • Laggards – the last group that will implement NG911

This whitepaper also discussed “the chasm,” or the key to accelerating NG911 adoption, and what will be required in order for a domino effect that will result in rapid acceleration in NG911 adoption.

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Learn more about Mission Critical Partners’ Next Generation 911 services

January 2nd, 2018

Posted In: Next Generation 911 Networks

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land_mobile_radio

To replace or not to replace? Will FirstNet replace the LMR systems that have traditionally provided mission-critical voice service?

Many public safety communications officials are wondering if they should replace their land mobile radio (LMR) system now that FirstNet has become a reality. This whitepaper makes the case for why agencies shouldn’t abandon their plans to replace their LMR system.

Now that the public safety sector is contemplating the implementation of an IP-based network known as the Nationwide Public Safety Broadband Network (NPSBN). Although this network was intended from the beginning to ramp up the public safety’s data capabilities in the field, a question was raised whether the NPSBN someday will replace the land mobile radio (LMR) systems that traditionally have provided mission-critical voice service.

The NPSBN eventually could one day satisfy all of public safety’s voice and data needs—the big question is when. Many public safety agencies have legacy LMR systems that are approaching end of life today, raising the question if they should burn up already limited financial resources on an LMR system that could obsolete in a few years. MCP recommends that public safety agencies not abandon the replacement of the LMR system for several reasons:

  • Talkaround still will be an issue.
  • System hardening still will be an issue.
  • Coverage and capacity concerns will note go away, and public safety agencies need to have complete visibility into their LMR systems regarding capacity requirements and how they are achieved.
  • User fees are expected to be much higher than today’s LMR systems.
  • Download this whitepaper on land mobile radio replacement to learn more

Download this whitepaper to reach more about if, and why, agencies should abandon a LMR replacement project in the foreseeable future.

Download the whitepaper.

 

December 19th, 2017

Posted In: Consulting, Radio, Wireless & Broadband

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New PEMA headquarters is a crown jewel among EOC facilities

“This facility is a crown jewel among EOCs that dramatically improves PEMA’s operational and administrative capabilities, both day to day and during emergencies.”

Richard D. Flinn, Jr.,
Director, PEMA

Overview and agency challenge

An EOC facility located in Harrisburg, PA the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency (PEMA) is a cabinet-level agency that is tasked with coordinating prevention, preparedness, response and recovery activities related to natural and manmade emergencies in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Lack of space and age prevented them from serving the needs of a statewide EOC and limited their ability to introduce new technology and replace aging systems.

How MCP helped

With a team of architectural partners and Mission Critical Partners, PEMA built a new state-of-the-art,  132,448-square-foot facility and a 22,985 ancillary building that opened in July 2016. MCP provided a number of services to support EOC facility design including completing a hazards assessment, planning, designing and project managing the implementation of the Internet-Protocol (IP) based, broadband-enabled network infrastructure as well as various communications systems.

The results

The new facility is considered a crown-jewel among mission critical EOC facilities, including:

  • Dramatically enhanced operational and administrative capabilities.
  • Fully-redundant and resilient power, water, HVAC, telecommunications and broadband.
  • Being designed to mitigate and lessen the impact of risk.
  • Multi-generational mission critical technology designed to meet emergency communications needs now and into the future.
  • Significant network savings of between 30 and 40 percent resulting from MCP’s procurement support.

Most impressively, it was delivered under budget and is situated to meet the Commonwealth’s needs for years to come.

Download the client success story.

 

 

December 5th, 2017

Posted In: Facility Design and Programming

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