APCO Public Safety Broadband Summit: Delivering Actionable Incident Information to Field Responders

Developing NG911-capable applications that deliver actionable incident information to field responders requires cooperation between developers and the first responder community.


ARLINGTON, VIRGINIA — Next generation 911 (NG911) holds tremendous potential to enhance emergency responders’ ability to deal quickly and effectively with emergency situations. The challenge, however, will be ensuring that emergency personnel in the field are not overwhelmed with data.

NG911 will allow for the transmission of text, images, video and other types of data in addition to traditional voice calls. It will ultimately fall upon application developers to enable first responders to utilize these new capabilities to their best advantage by filtering out data that is not useful or actionable.

At APCO International’s Public Safety Broadband Summit, a panel of technology experts addressed the challenges inherent to delivering actionable incident information to first responders in the field, particularly in the NG911 environment.

Memorable Quotes

Here are some memorable quotes from the panel discussion:

“The technological capabilities of the average consumer’s handset are miles ahead of that available to the first responder in the field. We need to leverage smart phone capabilities for first responders.” – Stephen Okano, Chief Technology Officer, Mark43

“Our challenge is creating standardized apps that don’t create a drain on the 911 system.” – Charles Werner, Chair, National Council on Public Safety UAS

We like to know what users think. We can provide what we think is good, but it’s got to be driven by users and their needs.” – Randy Richmond, Standards and Regulatory Specialist, Zetron

“It’s a fine line between useful data and information overload. The challenge is distinguishing between what’s possible and what’s useful.” – Jay English, Chief Technology Officer, APCO International

3 Key Takeaways

Panelists shared some key takeaways about the challenges inherent to getting actionable information into the hands of first responders as technology continues to evolve.

#1 An influx of data in the NG911 environment must be managed.

NG911 will dramatically increase the quantity and types of data received at emergency call centers. Not only will this input come from impacted individuals at incident sites, but artificial intelligence will enable additional input from sensors and other non-human sources.

Given the need for speed and accuracy in emergency response, it will be critically important that emergency call centers (ECCs) not waste time discerning what information is important versus what is redundant or not actionable. The ability to make these determinations is one of the most important challenges that applications developers currently face.

Rick Schadelbauer
Rick Schadelbauer

Rick Schadelbauer is an Arlington, Virginia, based freelance writer who has spent the past twenty years tracking and writing about technical and economic trends in the telecommunications industry.

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