Next Generation 9-1-1 (NG9-1-1) is a forward step in the evolution of the 9-1-1 system developed over 40 years ago. It migrates 9-1-1 from analog technology intended for wireline phones, to an all IP-based architecture capable of communicating with any network connected device. Of importance to local governments and GIS professionals that maintain GIS data for 9-1-1 is the transition from using Master Street Address Guide (MSAG) and Automatic Location Identification (ALI) tabular databases to GIS databases for 9-1-1 call location and routing. In NG9-1-1, GIS data is used in real-time within the 9-1-1 call flow for all location validation, call routing and mapping. As a result, it is essential that GIS data be complete, accurate, and up-to date before being used within a NG9-1-1 system.
The ten County Capitol Area Planning Council of Government (CAPCOG) Emergency Service District including Llano County is moving closer to deploying a Next-Gen 9-1-1 system that enable emergency calls to route to the correct Public Service Answering Point (PSAP) based on GIS data. This transition begins the process of moving away from the traditional MSAG-based (tabular database) routing system to one that will be faster, more reliable, and enable multimedia such as pictures and videos to be sent to 9-1-1 call takers via cell phones and tablets.
BIS was contacted by the Llano County 9-1-1 Coordinator D’Anna Swindle and Llano County Judge Ron Cunningham to assist with the mapping. The current Llano county legacy GIS layer including PSAP and Emergency Service Boundaries layers had topology errors that needed to be corrected at the beginning of the project. Road centerlines and address points were next in line to be corrected. These are all considered critical layers that must be accurate for the success of the NG9-1-1 mapping.
CAPCOG this past year contracted GEOCOMM, a company that has built GIS data management tools that allows GIS staff to collaborate, edit, quality check, merge, and analyze 9-1-1 mapping data. BIS and Llano County staff members make corrections to the GIS data and uploads the data into that system. BIS receives monthly progress reports from the CAPCOG team as progress is made on the errors in the Llano County 9-1-1 GIS data.
BIS is in a great position to serve rural Counties in Texas. We provide GIS Services to Texas County Appraisal districts across the State including Llano County. The parcel layer that we maintain for these appraisal districts is used in NG9-1-1 mapping to locate the address points to verify ownership of a home or structure. BIS takes pride in its efforts to support these local governments.
Rural counties across the State have challenges in meeting the GIS data requirements for NG9-1-1. Some GIS Coordinators in these counties have multiple job requirements and may not have time to focus on improving the data. BIS has set goals aiding these Counties in preparing their data or contracting out the maintenance to support their local 9-1-1mapping. We have gained some valuable experience supporting Llano County 9-1-1 mapping project.
The next steps to move forward to a fully operational Next-Generation 911 system will have its challenges. Upgrading to an IP-capable infrastructure will be costly. Emergency call center authorities and telecommunication carriers both need to upgrade their systems to get to next-generation 9-1-1. Several of the large Council of Governments (COG) including North Central Texas Council of Governments have NG-ready infrastructure in place. AT&T and Verizon both are making progress on upgrading their networks to support the NG9-1-1
Preparing your GIS data is one of the first steps to meet the infrastructure requirements needed for NG9-1-1. Counties like Llano will be prepared for this transition and will be rewarded for making this effort. Having a NG9-1-1 system in place will save lives.