Research Success Stories
Next Generation 9-1-1

Research Overview Transportation Safety Advancement Group

The Nation's current 9-1-1 system is designed around telephone technology and cannot handle the text, data, images and video that are both increasingly common in personal communications and critical to future transportation safety and mobility advances. The Next Generation 9-1-1 (NG9-1-1) Initiative has established the foundation for public emergency communications services in a wireless mobile society.

The Transportation Problem

The Nation's 9-1-1 system has been an unqualified success for more than 40 years. However, changes in the public's use of technology - the growing market for both wireless and voice-over-internet protocol (VoIP) telephony (e.g., Skype or Vonage) and the increasingly nomadic world they reflect - are contributing to greater expectations for connections than the existing 9-1-1 system can deliver. The spread of highly mobile, dynamic communications requires capabilities that do not exist today for 9-1-1 emergency call centers when people look to connect during emergencies. It is critical that emergency call centers have the ability to:

  • Easily connect with a wide range of devices on the market
  • Identify the location of the call
  • Recognize the technology generating the call in order to route the call to the appropriate responder in a timely manner

Challenges faced by emergency call centers - known as public safety answering points (PSAPs) - prevent easy transmission of data and critical sharing of information that can significantly enhance the decision-making ability, response, and quality of service provided to emergency callers. Technology challenges include:

  • Use of an older, analog-based infrastructure and equipment by PSAPs. The overall system architecture has essentially not changed since the first 9-1-1 call was made in 1968.
  • Use of local 9-1-1 networks that cannot:
    • Process calls using new communications technologies such as Internet Protocol (IP) access networks.
    • Efficiently transfer calls when the volume of callers exceeds the available resources.


The ITS Opportunity

ITS offers innovative technology solutions that address the existing system and technology challenges to enable the existing 9-1-1 system to deliver the next generation of capabilities and services. By capitalizing on recent technology advances, the ITS program has delivered a design for a Next Generation 9-1-1 system that, when implemented, will:

  • Enable 9-1-1 calls from any networked device.
  • Provide quicker delivery and more accurate information to responders and the public alike. Delivery will incorporate better and more useful forms of information: real-time text, images, video, and other data.
  • Establish more flexible, secure, and robust PSAP operations with increased capabilities for sharing data and resources, and more efficient procedures and standards to improve emergency response.
  • Enable call access, transfer, and backup among PSAPs and between PSAPs and other authorized emergency.


Research Approach

The NG9-1-1 Initiative focused on the research required to produce a design for a next-generation 9-1-1 system. The goal was to design a system that is capable of voice, data, and video transmission from different types of communication devices into PSAPs and on to emergency responder networks. Working closely with a wide range of stakeholders, the Initiative's efforts were focused in two areas: technical/engineering and institutional/transitional. Specifically, the Initiative focused on delivering an NG9-1-1 system architecture, or a technological framework, that can accommodate today's stakeholder interests and existing market-based solutions as well as future technological advances. Technical activities centered on:

  • Engaging a wide audience of stakeholders required for successful NG9-1-1 design and implementation.
  • Developing an NG9-1-1 Concept of Operations to establish the vision.
  • Documenting system requirements and developing a system architecture.
  • Conducting a proof-of-concept (POC) demonstration.
  • Assessing the cost, value, and risk of a next-generation 9-1-1 system and developing a transition plan that will identify and evaluate all non-technical factors (e.g., stakeholders, impacts, benefits) that need consideration for a successful nationwide transition.


Research Findings

To date, the NG9-1-1 Initiative has:

  • Developed a next-generation 9-1-1 engineering architecture that allows for connections to a wide range of new technologies.
  • Developed emergency call center receiving software and software screens for operators to record information in files that can be easily distributed to and accessed by other stakeholders involved in the emergency response.
  • Developed a set of POC test scenarios for laboratory tests for the most complex aspects of the NG9-1-1 architecture and the new call technologies and for PSAP tests for demonstrating the ability to receive, process, and send calls. The sites are:
    • King County E-911 System, Seattle, Washington
    • Montana Public Safety Services Bureau, Helena, Montana
    • Rochester, New York Emergency Communications Department, Rochester, New York
    • Ramsey County Metropolitan Emergency Services Board, St. Paul, Minnesota
    • Indiana Office of the State Treasurer, Indiana Wireless 911 Board, Kosciusko County, Indiana
  • Coordinated engagement on standards across the Nation and with other emergency service network providers within North America (Canada and Mexico).
  • Tested transmission and receipt of calls under real-world conditions, sending test 9-1-1 calls through PSAPs.
image of IVBSS program road map

The NG9-1-1 Initiative has produced one of the first studies that comprehensively defines and documents a future vision for the existing 9-1-1 system. The NG9-1-1 architecture has been validated through a set of POC tests. POC testing revealed that the NG9-1-1 System provides important new capabilities.


Recent Activities and News

This initiative was completed September 2009.


  • Next Generation 9-1-1 Fact Sheet [PDF 1.10MB]
  • Procurement Tool Kit, September 30, 2009 [PDF (1.17 MB)]
  • Final Analysis of Cost, Value, and Risk, March 5, 2009 [HTML, PDF (4.93 MB)]
  • Final Analysis of Cost, Value and Risk Executive Summary, March 5, 2009 [PDF (605 KB)]
  • Final System Design Document, February 2009 [PDF (3.91MB)]
  • Transition Plan, February 2, 2009 [PDF (3.13 MB)]
  • Proof of Concept Testing Report, September 17, 2008 [PDF (1.52 MB)]
  • Proof of Concept Test Plan, June 5, 2008 [PDF (1.42 MB)]
  • NG9-1-1 Preliminary Transition Plan, April 2008 [PDF (1.87 MB)]
  • Data Acquisition and Analysis Plan, March 2008 [PDF (1.80 MB)]
  • NG9-1-1 Transition Issues Report [PDF (793 KB)]
  • Proof of Concept Deployment Plan, February 2008 [PDF (3.52 MB)]
  • Executive Summary: Preliminary Analysis of Cost, Value, and Risk, February 12, 2008 [PDF (205 KB)]
  • Preliminary Analysis of Cost, Value, and Risk, February 12, 2008 [HTML, PDF (1.22 MB)]
  • Human Machine Interface Display Design Document, January 2008 [PDF (7.27 MB)]
  • Architecture Analysis Report, November 2007 [PDF (4.01 MB)]
  • System Description and Requirements Document, October 10, 2007 [PDF (9.40 MB)]
  • Concept of Operations, April 6, 2007 [PDF (5.68 MB)]
  • Preliminary Concept of Operations, December 2005 [PDF (1.40 KB)]
image of IVBSS program road map

The USDOT NG9-1-1 Community Model is a graphical representation of the operational and support elements that comprise the NG9-1-1 system of systems. The NG9-1-1 Community Model illustrates how the NG9-1-1 System interacts with various stakeholders and how these stakeholders fit into the emergency services community as a whole. More information is available at: pubs/NG911_FINAL_Requirements_v2.htm



Linda D. Dodge
Chief of Staff, Public Safety Program Manager
ITS Joint Program Office
Research and Innovative Technology Administration
(202) 366-8034

Drew Dawson
Office of Emergency Medical Services
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
(202) 366-9966

Booz Allen Hamilton's NG9-1-1 Program


Additional ITS Resources on the Federal Highway Administration Office of Operations Website

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