Next Gen 911 vs. e911

Which 911 routing solution is right for you?

For large enterprises and institutions that have made the switch to VoIP, answering the 911 question is mission-critical. While VoIP gives employees, students, and guests freedom to stay connected from anywhere, the complexities of ensuring 911 access abound.

When enterprises work with a partner that specializes in E911 for VoIP, they gain more than the most sophisticated 911 routing available today. They gain easy access to the future of 911 and the ability to deliver Next Generation (NG911), IP-based features that will never be possible using legacy 911 systems.

911 should just work, right?

You betcha. And that’s what visitors to an office or campus expect when they dial 911. They’re not thinking about the cumbersome nature of traditional 911 infrastructure. Like anything else in their lives, consumers simply expect to be able to text a picture or snap and send a video to 911 and have the person on the other end quickly respond and know where they are. That’s what people expect, but the reality of legacy 911 systems is very different.

Next Gen 911, as an entirely VoIP-based connection, changes all of that–enabling the transmission of rich content and detailed, specific location information in the way that consumers think it should happen already.

So Next Gen is all the rage…what are the other types of 911?

While we’re talking about 911, it’s helpful to understand where it all started–and where it’s headed in the future (that “Next Gen” part). Click on the image below to enlarge.

Chart showing evolution of 911 from Basic 911 to E911 to Wireless E911 to VoIP 911 and then Next Generation 911

Basic 911

  • Originated in 1968
  • Caller provides address verbally to 911 operator
  • No phone number or name info is displayed to 911 operator
  • Voice calls are routed based on NPA-NXX to emergency dispatch

Enhanced 911 (E911)

  • Calls sent to PSAP with caller’s name and phone number displayed to 911 Operator
  • ALI database determines routing based on address of caller
  • MSAG database provides specific address to be displayed
  • Mandated in 1999 with Wireless Communications and Public Safety Act
  • Calls are routed based on address analysis to appropriate emergency dispatch

Wireless E911

  • Since callers are mobile, caller location is more complex
  • Calls routed based on cell tower location
  • Location of handset transmits more accurate latitude and longitude during call
  • Calls are routed based on cell tower or antenna being used for call to appropriate emergency dispatch

VoIP 911

  • Calls sent to emergency dispatch with caller’s name and phone number displayed to 911 Operator
  • VoIP Position Center analyses latitude and longitude of address to determine routing to correct emergency dispatch
  • MSAG database is only used for display purposes, not routing determination
  • Mandated by FCC in 2005 for Interconnected VoIP providers
  • Calls originate as VoIP and routed to appropriate emergency dispatch

Next Generation 911 (NG911)

  • Calls sent to emergency dispatch entirely over IP bypassing PSTN
  • Location determined & transmitted at the time of call
  • Uses PIDF-LO (Presence Information Data Format-Location Object), a standard that’s used to represent an address/location in XML format.
  • All-VolP connection enables photos, video, and text messaging

Breaking it down: Why Next Gen is best for the Enterprise

NG911 allows consumers to connect to 911 service in all of the ways that are most natural to them, but it’s important for enterprises to adapt to the service now for a variety of reasons–both from a public safety and regulatory standpoint.

It’s the future. As more enterprises make the switch to VoIP, the question of 911 is easily solved in partnership with a Next Gen provider. Though only a small number of the nation’s 6,000 public-safety answering points (PSAPs) are VoIP-enabled today, it’s where the future is headed and it makes sense for enterprises to develop the infrastructure now to support these changes.

It’s more accurate. When an enterprise operates a MLTS (Multi-Line Telephone System), it’s critical that the enterprise keeps a granular database of associated location information by building, floor, and room. That way, emergency services personnel can easily reach the caller in the right location rather than rushing to the main office or building and then having to locate the caller somewhere else on campus.

It’s the law. Not only are enterprises mandated by the State Public Utilities Commissions to provide accurate location information for 911 callers, this is an area that continues to evolve with stricter laws and standards. One such law is Kari’s Law, which requires MLTS operators to not require a “9” dial out to initiate a 911 call.

Want to learn more about NG-911 and tips for making the switch? Here’s a few things to get your started.