Public Safety Answering Points (PSAP)

This glossary was last updated on Jan. 22, 2024.

What is a PSAP? 

Public Safety Answering Points (PSAPs) are 911 call centers for first responders, including the police, the fire department, or emergency medical services.

As of 2021, there are 5,748 primary and secondary PSAPs in the U.S..

Responsible for receiving and processing 911 calls, PSAPs take calls from any landline, mobile phone, or Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) line. Think of PSAPs as a dedicated call center for answering emergency phone calls and dispatching appropriately.

What is an i3 PSAP?

i3 PSAPs are capable of receiving IP-based emergency calls and are conformant to NENA-STA010 and other requirements. i3 assumes VoIP connectivity and legacy PSAP gateways must continue to be supported alongside IP-based calling. 

Types of PSAPs

There are multiple types of PSAPs, including:

PSAP TypeFunction
Primary 911 calls are routed here directly from the 911 Control Office.
Secondary 911 calls are transferred here from a primary PSAP.
AlternateReceives calls when the primary PSAP is unable to do so.
Consolidated Multiple Public Safety Agencies operate as a single 911 entity.
Legacy Cannot process calls received via i3-defined call interfaces (IP-based calls). Legacy PSAPs still require the use of CAMA or ISDN trunk technology for delivery of 9-1-1 emergency calls.
Serving A 911 call would normally be routed to this PSAP.
NG911 A PSAP capable of processing calls and accessing data services as defined in NENA’s i3 specification, NENA NENA-STA-010, and i3 PSAP.

How is Bandwidth involved with PSAPs?

Bandwidth’s 911 Access services allow VoIP service providers to easily reach all the PSAPs in the US and Canada.

Reaching the correct provider based on the caller’s location in a VoIP environment can be a difficult task without a provider like Bandwidth in the middle. Services like Bandwidth’s have many moving parts.

What are the benefits of PSAPs?

When a 911 call is placed, Bandwidth can assess coordinates or location information provisioned to the phone number and compare them to our PSAP boundaries files received from the ALI database

From there, we route the call directly to the proper PSAP.

As an additional service, we offer reverse geocoding as another option to provide a physical address of the caller within seconds if coordinates or physical location cannot be provided or provisioned in advance.

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