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Blog Posts by Rear Admiral (Ret.) David Simpson

Technology Transitions and Public Safety Workshop and Online Forum

by Rear Admiral (Ret.) David Simpson, Chief, Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau
April 16, 2014 - 06:12 PM

Technology transitions, in the telecommunications sector, are already happening, and they will continue to have a profound impact on public safety communications.  As networks transform, the capability for public safety officials to reliably communicate among themselves and with the public must be preserved.  Similarly, the ability for individuals to reach help in an emergency is fundamental and must be maintained.  We are committed to ensuring that the critical functionalities served by the legacy infrastructure are supported after transition to IP-based infrastructure and, where possible, improved.  Public safety, disaster response and homeland security communities must remain reliable and secure under a wide range of stressful conditions – they must be available when we need them.

To that end, the Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau is hosting a workshop on Thursday, April 17, 2014, on the impact of technology transition on public safety.

Representatives from public safety agencies, service providers, technology vendors, and other stakeholders will participate in roundtable discussions to explore the impact of the retirement of switched telecommunications service (PSTN, TDM), the anticipated interdependencies and new failure modalities for IP transport, copper to fiber transition and copper to wireless transition.

The workshop will identify areas of risk associated with the planned IP Transition and determine risk factors for key public safety, emergency response, and national security functions. 

The workshop will be streamed live online for those who cannot attend in-person.  We will also be accepting questions during the workshop via email at livequestions@fcc.gov or by Twitter using the #TechTransitions hashtag.

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FCC Launches Webpage with Best Practices for Implementing Text-to-911

by Rear Admiral (Ret.) David Simpson, Chief, Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau
March 7, 2014 - 10:34 AM

Today we launched an interactive webpage with best practices to assist text message providers and 911 call centers with deploying text-to-911.  

The webpage contains materials prepared by Vermont, Texas, and other state 911 call centers (known as public safety answering points or PSAPs) that have already successfully integrated text-to-911, with expertise and insight that can ease the deployment process for others.  For example, the State of Vermont has developed a list of “lessons learned” from its highly successful text-to-911 implementation as well as a series of informational videos for potential text-to-911 users.

The webpage is a tool enabling text providers and PSAPs to contribute and refer to comments, best practices, and informational materials.  It additionally contains documents from public safety organizations NENA and APCO, with Frequently Asked Questions, a checklist of issues that 911 call centers should consider, and technological options available to support text-to-911.

Why is this important?  In today’s world, wireless usage has become increasingly text-based. Yet in most parts of the country, if you send a text message to 911 during an emergency, it won’t be received.  Being able to text during an emergency is essential for the tens of millions of Americans who are deaf, hard of hearing, or have speech disabilities. Texting can also provide an alternative means of contacting 911 when a voice call may place someone in danger, such as in an active shooter or domestic abuse situation, or when voice networks are congested. 

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