Author: Amelia MuellerAmelia Mueller is the North Central Texas Emergency Communication District's communications coordinator. Her responsibilities include managing NCT911.org and its social media platforms, creating educational content, managing the public education program, and more.

Who is the North Central Texas Emergency Communications District?

Who is the North Central Texas Emergency Communications District?

Who is the North Central Texas Emergency Communications District?

The North Central Texas Emergency Communications District, or NCT9-1-1, is a 9-1-1 authority that services 13 counties and five municipalities surrounding the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex. But that’s just our official definition. We like to think that NCT9-1-1 is really defined by our people.

The district is made up of six different teams who are the backbone of the 9-1-1 program. These individuals work to provide superior services for the public and communities we serve, and we have a great time doing it. We’ve summarized our teams and their members below; take a look to discover the ins and outs of how a regional emergency communications district is run. 

 

The Data Team 

The 9-1-1 Data Team is responsible for the ALI Database. The ALI Database is a critical component of the 9-1-1 system and is the source for landline address information. The 9-1-1 Data Team manages approximately 400,000 customer records with an average error rate of 0.001. This low number of errors is achieved through the hard work of the local city and county addressing coordinators. Their efforts keep this database up to date. With the growth of the NCT9-1-1 program area, this is a constant work in progress. Each city and county is doing a great job at maintaining the data along in partnership with NCT9-1-1 staff.  

Team Members: 

LeAnna Russell, ENP, 9-1-1 Database Manager  

Melissa Tutton, ENP, 9-1-1 Database Analyst II 

 

The Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Team 

The GIS Team has the primary role of ensuring accurate and precise GIS data is used throughout the NCT9-1-1 Public Safety GIS environment. The GIS Team assists the 9-1-1 Addressing Authorities from the NCT9-1-1 member agencies in the aggregation and quality control of GIS data. The GIS Team is tasked with provisioning high-quality spatial data into the public safety applications. These mission-critical applications are used to geospatially route live 9-1-1 calls, and plot emergency calls on the dispatch mapping platform at the PSAPs.  

Team Members: 

Rodger Mann, 9-1-1 GIS Manager 

David Dean, 9-1-1 GIS Project Coordinator  

Kasey Cox, 9-1-1 GIS Data Administrator 

Bruno Blanco, 9-1-1 GIS Specialist III 

Joe Brawner, 9-1-1 GIS Specialist III 

Danette Bradshaw, 9-1-1 GIS Specialist III 

David Lindsey, 9-1-1 GIS Applications Developer   

 

 

The Operations Team 

The 9-1-1 Operations Team strives for quality communications and support of the PSAPs throughout the region. The team’s goal is to serve as an advocate and liaison for the PSAPs with NCT9-1-1. 

The 9-1-1 Operations Team focuses on providing value in three main areas: 

Training – Offer specialized courses that meet the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement (TCOLE) telecommunicator licensing requirements, as well as continuing education hours and Basic, Intermediate, Advanced, and Master’s certifications.  

Quality Assurance – Serve as a liaison between the PSAPs and NCT9-1-1, conducting quarterly site visits to ensure compliance with regional, state, and national requirements.  

Communications – Keep necessary stakeholders updated with the achievements of NCT9-1-1 through marketing, visual media graphics, and public relations; provide public education throughout the region with the distribution of educational materials.   

Team Members: 

Jason Smith, ENP, 9-1-1 Operations Supervisor  

Brittney Burross, ENP, 9-1-1 Quality Assurance Coordinator 

Amelia Mueller, 9-1-1 Communications Coordinator   

Bret Batchelor, 9-1-1 Training Coordinator 

Kristin McKinney, 9-1-1 Visual Media Coordinator 

 

The Technology Team 

The 9-1-1 Technology Team provides technical expertise in the selection, development, implementation, maintenance, and usage of all NCT9-1-1 hardware, software, telecommunication networks, GIS, and other essential systems to advance NG9-1-1 within the NCT9-1-1 region.  

The team maintains and monitors the 9-1-1 Emergency Service IP network (ESINET) and all 9-1-1 PSAP equipment with regular preventative maintenance. The team is also responsible for the interconnection of the NCT9-1-1 Regional 9-1-1 ESINET with other 9-1-1 authorities and service providers as well as the state and national ESINETs as they become available.  

Team Members: 

Clay Dilday, 9-1-1 Technology Manager  

Tommy Tran, 9-1-1 Solutions Architect 

Steven Gorena, 9-1-1 Field Support Supervisor  

Jeremy Crabtree, 9-1-1 Systems Administrator II 

Christopher Woodruff, 9-1-1 Systems Administrator  

Aaron Lloyd, 9-1-1 Technology Specialist IV 

Robert Darnell, 9-1-1 Technology Specialist IV 

Ramya Cruz, 9-1-1 Network Engineer  

Myka Artis, 9-1-1 Network Engineer 

 

The Strategic Services Team 

The Strategic Services Team is responsible for various business functions on behalf of the NCT9-1-1 program. This includes supporting the director and the Board of Managers as needed; coordinating the strategic planning and budgeting processes; serving as liaison with various internal groups including legal, human resources, and accounting/purchasing; coordinating with various vendors; coordinating the NCT9-1-1 fleet; and providing project management support as needed.  

In addition, the Strategic Services Team is tasked with administering a suite of productivity applications that increase cross-team collaboration, improve processes, and ensure the program remains in compliance with various mandates and standards.  

Team Members: 

Jessie Shadowens-James, 9-1-1 Strategic Services Manager 

 

The Support Team

The Support Team oversees support-related activities for the NCT9-1-1 Program, director, and Board of Manager’s support  as needed. Additional duties include staff onboarding/offboarding, travel, meeting/event coordination, facilities, office supplies, office equipment inventory, Pcards, purchasing, and staff training and development.   

Team Members: 

Hilaria Perez, 9-1-1 Admin Program Coordinator  

Kari Gamez, 9-1-1 Senior Administrative Assistant 

 

Press Release: North Central Texas 9-1-1 Provides Hurricane Relief to Lafourche Parish Sheriff’s Office

Press Release: North Central Texas 9-1-1 Provides Hurricane Relief to Lafourche Parish Sheriff’s Office

ARLINGTON, Texas, September 2 – The North Central Texas Emergency Communications District (NCT9-1-1), which serves as the headquarters for the Texas Telecommunicator Emergency Response Taskforce (TERT) state program, deployed two 9-1-1 telecommunicators today to the Lafourche Parish Sheriff’s Office in Louisiana for 14 days. The relief comes after the devastating effects of Hurricane Ida strained the parish’s resources and caused catastrophic damage to the community, according to their Facebook page. The deployed TERT members are licensed 9-1-1 telecommunicators employed by the Bedford Police Department and NCT9-1-1.

TERT members will work onsite at the Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP) and assist with the duties of 9-1-1 call takers and radio dispatchers. This provides relief to Lafourche telecommunicators who will have the opportunity to visit and assess the damage to their homes, check in on loved ones, and mentally recover from hurricane response efforts. 9-1-1 telecommunicators often work around the clock during disasters, sometimes living at their PSAPs for multiple days, and TERT programs around the country are utilized to support these agencies.

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TERT member Michael Martin of the Bedford Police Department, Texas TERT State Coordinator Jason Smith, and TERT member Brittney Burross of NCT9-1-1.

“TERT is who 9-1-1 calls when 9-1-1 needs help,” said Texas TERT State Coordinator Jason Smith. “State programs exist all over the country to provide support due to wildfires, hurricanes, or other disasters. 9-1-1 is often the first piece of critical infrastructure brought back after an incident, and the stress 9-1-1 telecommunicators experience as the first point of contact in their community’s recovery is significant. TERT provides necessary support to an unseen part of disaster response.”

Texas TERT is part of the first deployment phase and is partnering with eight members of Florida TERT to provide a total of ten 9-1-1 telecommunicators to support the Lafourche Parish Sheriff’s Office. If a second phase is needed, TERT members from the Tennessee and Georgia state programs will be sent. Texas TERT was established in 2007 and has responded to disasters such as Hurricane Harvey, Ike, and assisted during Hurricane Isaac.

 

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About the North Central Texas Emergency Communications District (NCT9-1-1)

The North Central Texas Emergency Communications District (NCT9-1-1) is responsible for 40 plus Public Safety Answering Points (PSAPs) in the 13 counties surrounding the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex. The district supports these PSAPs through maintaining and upgrading 9-1-1 equipment, providing up-to-date mapping information, training 9-1-1 telecommunicators, educating the public on the proper use of 9-1-1, and monitoring PSAP functionality and compliances. NCT9-1-1 serves a population of 1.7 million and 10,000+ square miles.

 

Christy’s Corner: Innovation Is Not Just About Technology

Christy’s Corner: Innovation Is Not Just About Technology

Innovation is commonly defined as the creation, development, and implementation of a new method, idea, product, or service.  It is an idea that has been transformed into practical reality.  I would add that it is achieved with a positive outcome.  For me, innovation is revolutionizing 9-1-1 by enhancing the service we provide the public, improving safety for our field responders, and providing new tools for our telecommunicators.

There are officially four types of innovation and I believe 9-1-1 hovers between disruptive and radical innovation.  We have done things the same way in 9-1-1 for years and years.  Proven, reliable technology and 9-1-1 systems that were designed and built in 1968 still exists in most areas of our country today.  It was apparent several years ago that 9-1-1 needed disruptive innovation, which involves applying new technology and processes to our industry.  The changes being made today by early adopters in the 9-1-1 space could also be considered radical innovation as the changes have given birth to a whole new way of processing and delivering 9-1-1 requests for assistance.

It is my experience in 9-1-1 that when you talk about innovation, people immediately think of technology.  In fact, I have focused on technology in my educational and awareness activities for the past several years.

Technology can be used to implement innovation, but the technology itself doesn’t produce innovation.  In recent years the 9-1-1 industry has placed so much emphasis on technology that we sometimes lose sight of the reasons why humans create new technologies in the first place.  Certainly with 9-1-1, that reason is to help people, save lives, and make a difference.

While I continue to champion the new technologies in 9-1-1 that will solve problems, I also want to support the greater definition of innovation by focusing on the people.  I learned many years ago that we can implement the latest and greatest technologies in the PSAP, but if the telecommunicators don’t use the new technology or don’t use it properly, there has been no gain or positive outcome.  If the public doesn’t know how to contact 9-1-1, we have failed in our mission.   It is time for this industry to focus on the people side of innovation by engaging our users, getting buy-in, enhancing our hiring and training practices, focusing on wellness and mental health, and pouring into our employees so they understand how they fit into the big picture.  Let’s give them a sense of value and pride knowing they are part of something great.  And it doesn’t stop with our telecommunicators.  We need to educate our field responders, decision makers and yes, the general public.  It’s time to focus on the human side innovation and recognize:

Technology + People = Success

Where is 911 now? How NCT9-1-1 looks to the future

Where is 911 now? How NCT9-1-1 looks to the future

A few weeks ago, we wrote about the history of 911 innovation and the phases the industry has gone through to accommodate new technologies. As an early adopter, the North Central Texas Emergency Communications District is at the forefront of innovative development. We push for the type of technology that improves the day-to-day tasks of 911 telecommunicators and is beneficial to our public. Here are some of the projects that we have our eye on.

We’re Going Vertical

During my first year at NCT9-1-1, a co-worker told me the story of a time when they received an open line 911 call but were unable to locate the caller. They eventually identified the apartment complex the call was in but couldn’t figure out what the unit number was. The 911 call taker instructed the firefighters to run up and down the stairwells and hallways shouting as loud as they could, and she was able to identify the caller’s location by listening for them on the other end. They found the caller, who was experiencing a medical emergency and couldn’t speak, and got them the medical assistance they needed.

This is the story I think of when I talk about z-axis. Currently, 911 maps are able to identify the y and x-axis points and use GIS data to present an approximate location of the caller. But this is 2D information. If a caller is in a multi-floor building, like an office or apartment complex, the 911 call taker won’t be able to tell which floor they are on. The Federal Communications Commission recently released a mandate that requires z-axis information with an accuracy of 3 meters to be available to 911 telecommunicators for 80% of calls.

The NCT9-1-1 GIS team were already thinking about the future of 3D mapping before this mandate came out. They’ve been collecting the necessary data to build 3D models of critical infrastructure, which includes places like schools or government buildings.

Let’s Get Social

During disasters that see a high amount of 911 traffic, it’s difficult to ensure all the calls get through. During Hurricane Harvey, local Public Safety Answering Points (PSAPs or 911 call centers) noticed a high amount of calls for help through a different service: their social media platforms.

Since social media accounts aren’t typically monitored on a 24-hour basis by first responders, this created a buzz in the industry. How can PSAPs keep track of social media when they’re already overwhelmed with 911 calls?

NCT9-1-1 has partnered with university researchers to find out. Research has been done or is being written on what would be required to make social media a useful tool to 911 telecommunicators and not an additional burden. Questions like how to filter out true calls for help from spam or noise, what technology to use to present this information on consoles, and what kind of standard operating procedures and policies would need to be deployed are already being asked.

Don’t Forget About the People

Technology is important, and innovative technology gets us excited about the future, but NCT9-1-1 believes in staying grounded on our purpose: saving lives and making a difference. That means we can’t just innovate for innovation’s sake. We have to provide useful tools to 911 telecommunicators and life-saving technologies to our public.

Our director, Christy Williams, believes in a people-first approach to innovation. Remembering the actual human beings who will be using this technology should be the foundation of every project. Change is difficult, especially if your job is to save lives. We don’t believe in adding new technology just because it’s cool and flashy. There is a careful process to make sure any new technology that is invested in and implemented is useful. By focusing on the 911 telecommunicators needs, we ensure that changes will make a difference in saving lives.