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Earlier this week I participated in a meeting of the Cal Chiefs

legislative task force. I will focus on one issue that is both important as
well as an interesting and complex component of the public safety
business. The bill below speaks to the issue and it has a similar bill in
the senate. I'll attempt to condense the information into a discussion
about Next Generation 911 (NG911).
A nationwide push resulted in a single three digit number (911) for use
in emergencies across the Country to access a public safety system.
When it came to fruition in the 1980s this resulted in more rapid
communication to public emergency service providers. The reduction
in what is now known as call processing time coincided with
widespread deployment of paramedic services in the fire service, and
enhanced care and treatment of the sick and injured. Additionally, the
full spectrum of fire service and law enforcement service capabilities
were enhanced with this improvement as well.
An improvement to the 911 access was E911, which provided the
address location of the caller's phone if for any number of reasons the
caller was unable to provide this information. The lack of this
important feature is illustrated in the 2008 killing of Juliana Redding at
her home in Santa Monica by a contract murder-for-hire. While Juliana
was able to dial 911 the call was ended by the killer before she was able
to report the location during her struggle for life.
The E911 technology comes at a cost to both maintain and expand the
system into new areas for systemwide coverage. The funds for
maintenance and operation of this system was secured with a surcharge
on each landline phone. Since the implementation of the 911 landline
system there has been an exponential increase in the use of cellular
phones, often at the cost of landline use. Consequently, most public
safety answering points (PSAP) now report that at least half of the 911
callers access the 911 system using a cell phone. Because cellular
technology does not provide an address, this information must be
provided by the caller. This situation is reflective of the early 1980s

prior to the E911 enhancement. More time is consumed in the

informational acquisition component of call processing, resulting
longer total response time by public safety resources for about half of
the 911 requests for service.
In California, all cellular 911 calls are routed to the California Highway
Patrol (CHP) by law. This can be modified via contract with the CHP if
both parties are in agreement. However, the CHP holds the authority on
this issue. Cellular towers near a freeway often are routed to the local
CHP PSAP, and subsequently transferred to another PSAP if necessary
based on the jurisdiction or discipline needed. At times, a cellular tower
can become over loaded with activity and the next nearest available
tower is accessed. However, this can result in a PSAP handling a call
from many miles away and without knowledge of the streets or
businesses reported by the caller, as this information may not be in the
database of the terminal PSAP computer. Some of this was attempted
to be resolved with the routing on empirical data (RED) project.
However, this is a temporary solution.
The NG911 program is something that is expected to address the issues
of a legacy 911 system in what is a technology driven world. It would
attempt to provide access into the system for those who cannot speak,
as well as texting and video uploading. Communication barriers are
expected to be bridged as well. However, funding for this program is
not sufficient at this time due to the reduction in landline use. Over
time, legislation is proposed in an attempt to address many of these
issues. However, it may be quite some time before the answer is
The outcome of many of these 911 challenges is that a person who
accesses the system using a cellular phone is providing the same
information more than once, and that PSAP operators are are spending
time transferring calls via voice. This is a time consuming process that
results in an increase in call processing time. Currently, I believe that
Cal Chiefs will look to a solution that more fully integrates CAD-toCAD interface by standardizing the software so that when a call is sent
from one PASP to another the need for voice communication is

minimized. This would achieve one of the most important objectives

of call processing by reducing the time acquisition of critical
information to the proper assignment of public safety resources.

Paul Matheis