Latest Posts

Reflections on 2018

Reflections on 2018

Last night I reflected on the year 2018 in the 9-1-1 industry and our region.  2018 was a year of triumph and new beginnings peppered with tribulations.

NCTCOG 9-1-1 started the year with an exciting pilot project working with Google and RapidSOS to trial supplemental location that has the potential to revolutionize 9-1-1 for callers and responders.  Following the trial, NCTCOG staff and telecommunicators assisted in creating awareness and advocating for the permanent adoption of this technology.  In the fall, these efforts paid off as both Google and Apple announced they would be providing device based supplemental location to 9-1-1.  NCTCOG uses the RapidSOS Clearinghouse to push the information to each of our PSAPs.

February 16th marked the 50th anniversary of the first 9-1-1 call in the United States.  The months since that anniversary date have brought numerous celebrations, including the 9-1-1 Festival in Haleyville, Alabama where the inaugural call was placed.  Associations and 9-1-1 centers throughout the country have hosted different events to honor 50 years of 9-1-1.  Now telecommunicators and their families, along with the general public, can go visit the “red 9-1-1 phone” from Haleyville proudly on display in the new National Law Enforcement Museum in Washington DC.

President Trump contributed to the celebration on February 16th by signing two new laws to improve emergency calling.

Kari’s Law requires multi-line telephone systems—which commonly serve hotels, office buildings, and campuses—to enable users to dial 911 directly, without having to dial a prefix (such as a “9”) to reach an outside line.  Kari’s Law also requires multi-line telephone systems to provide notification, such as to a front desk or security office, when a 911 call is made in order to facilitate building entry by first responders.  Kari Hunt was killed in a hotel in Texas while her daughter tried unsuccessfully to call 9-1-1 for help.  Kari’s father, Hank Hunt, has worked since her death to get laws changed so that people can get direct access to 9-1-1 while in hotels.  Hank was present for the signing of this important legislation.

The second law was RAY BAUM’S Act which had a directive to address dispatchable location for 9-1-1 call, regardless of the technological platform used.

And it wasn’t just the President and Congress that has supported 9-1-1 in 2018, the FCC worked diligently on improving 9-1-1 calling from Multi-Line Telephone Systems and RAY BAUM’S directive for dispatchable location through proposed rulemaking in September in order to provide clarity and specificity to these statutory requirements so that companies can effectively meet their obligations.  They are also examining how to route wireless 9-1-1 calls more quickly to the proper PSAP and continue to focus on helping first responders locate wireless 9-1-1 callers.  With the carriers committing to provide device-based location, the next area of emphasis will be on vertical location or Z axis.

The NCTCOG 9-1-1 Regional Telecommunicator Academies continued to provide licensed telecommunicators for the region through two month-long classes.  Our County 9-1-1 Coordinators were able to improve accuracy over 90% and move into the maintenance phase of error resolution.  NCTCOG had two staff members certified as FAA 107 pilots and they conducted a trial of addressing a subdivision using UAS (Unmanned Aircraft Systems) or drones.  Working through flight regulations and restrictions of UAS will allow the 9-1-1 industry to address new subdivisions in a much more timely and efficient manner, enhancing the 9-1-1 map accuracy for 9-1-1 call location.

NCTCOG continued to support innovation and new services  to enhance emergency communications by working with universities, startup companies and existing companies with new technology.  PSAPs and staff participated in focus groups and pilots and NCTCOG hosted the second annual Early Adopter Summit for 9-1-1 early adopters throughout the nation.  NCTCOG also entered into an analytics contract with RapidDeploy.  This contract will allow us to collect call data and provide to PSAPs in reports and on a dashboard.  The next phases of the contract will bring in additional data and analyze it and then use the information to make good decisions for the future based on predictive analytics.

Lastly, NCTCOG 9-1-1 became a regional district on December 3 and NCT9-1-1 has launched a new website, logo and branding.

As for tribulations, I don’t want to rub salt in our wounds but the last several months have brought us challenges with outages.  The service has been restored and there have been numerous lessons learned, both technically and operationally.  Most of all, NCTCOG has improved communications with our PSAPs as we partner in the good times and bad.  The national CenturyLink outage did indeed take down our region, however, Text-to-9-1-1 remained up for the duration so our public always had a way to reach emergency services.  In addition, NCT9-1-1, PSAPs and the media assisted in getting the word out on 10-digit emergency numbers. We find any outage unacceptable and have been working with our vendors to strengthen our system and improve in every area possible.  We are so thankful for the PSAPs and their administration working side by side with our staff to make these improvements.

I want to give special thanks to our wonderful Telecommunicators, supervisors, county coordinators, NCT9-1-1 staff, management and our industry partners.  Implementing new call handling equipment in a large region takes a great deal of work from all involved and I’m so proud that you all embraced the technology and are enhancing public safety through improved emergency communications.  The new CPE and network enhancements are a step in the right direction for continuing our mission.

In retrospect, the word I would use for 2018 is “achievement”. We practiced our core value of perseverance during the challenges and our heart, courage and attitude have prevailed.  The word for next year that I hope we can all focus on in good times and bad is “unstoppable”.  You have experience, knowledge, skills and passion and we stand together to serve the public and protect our first responders. You are SAVING LIVES AND MAKING A DIFFERENCE!

Thank you and Happy New Year!

 

Christy Williams

Director of 9-1-1, NCT9-1-1

The NCT9-1-1 Region Experienced a 9-1-1 Outage

UPDATE: 7:58 PM

NCT9-1-1 has received the all clear from its service provider. All agencies are receiving calls and 9-1-1 services in the region are operating normally.

UPDATE: 3:03 PM

According to our service provider, all 9-1-1 services with the NCT9-1-1 region are operating normally. However, NCT9-1-1 will continue to monitor call traffic to ensure 9-1-1 calls are being received before we confirm that we are no longer affected by the CenturyLink outage.

UPDATE: 6:20 AM

We have just confirmed with all of our agencies that 9-1-1 calls are coming through. 9-1-1 services within the NCT9-1-1 region are restored, and we are now running at normal operations.

UPDATE: 4:04 AM

There is currently no new update at this time. We will update with more information as it is provided to us.

UPDATE: 12:43 AM

CenturyLink has reported that the situation will have a solution by 4 AM. We will provide our next update at that time.

UPDATE: 12:10 AM

There is no change to the situation. The NCT9-1-1 Region is experiencing an outage, though text-to-9-1-1 is still available in all areas.

UPDATE: 11:41 pm

We received confirmation that the outage is related to the national CenturyLink rolling outage. We will update with more details as we receive them.

UPDATE: 11:30 pm

Text 9-1-1 IS WORKING in the NCT9-1-1 Region. The 9-1-1 outage does not affect Plano, Richardson, Wylie, Ennis, Glenn Heights or Mansfield.

 

Call centers in the NCT9-1-1 Area are experiencing a 9-1-1 outage. The affected areas include:

Collin County

Erath County

Ellis County

Hood County

Hunt County

Johnson County

Kaufman County

Navarro County

Palo Pinto County

Parker County

Rockwall County

Somervell County

Wise County

Cities of Balch Springs, Cockrell Hill, Sachse, Seagoville and Wilmer

We will be updating with more information every 30 minutes. Citizens needing to call 9-1-1 are encouraged to call their local police department’s non-emergency number.

 

PSAP 24/7 10-Digit Emergency Line
Allen PD 214-509-4321
Balch Springs PD 972-557-6005
Bridgeport PD 940-683-3430
Cleburne PD 817-645-0972
Cockrell Hill PD 214-339-4141
Collin County SO 972-547-5350
Commerce PD 903-886-1139
Corsicana PD 903-654-4902
Decatur PD 940-393-0300
Dublin PD 254-445-3455
Ellis County SO 972-937-6060
Erath County SO 254-965-3318
Forney PD 972-552-3932
Frisco PD 972-292-6010
Greenville PD 903-457-2900
Hood County SO 817-408-2788
Hunt County SO 903-453-6838
Johnson County SO 817-556-6060
Johnson County ESD 817-357-8800
Kaufman County RCC 469-376-4598
Keene PD 817-645-0511
LifeCare EMS 817-594-2764
McKinney PD 972-547-2700
Midlothian PD (NEED Center) 972-775-3333
Mineral Wells PD 940-328-7770
Murphy PD 972-468-4200
Navarro County SO 903-654-3001
NCTCOG Training Center 888-311-3911
Palo Pinto County SO 940-659-2085
Parker County SO 817-594-3213
Prosper PD 972-347-2226
Rockwall County SO 972-204-7001
Rockwall PD 972-771-7724
Sachse PD 972-495-2005
Seagoville PD 972-287-1111
Somervell County SO 254-897-2242
Springtown PD 817-220-0828
Stephenville PD 254-918-1273
Terrell PD 469-474-2700
Waxahachie PD 469-309-4400
Wilmer PD 972-441-6565
Weatherford PD 817-598-4023
Wise County SO 940-627-3311
The NCT9-1-1 Annual Award Winners

The NCT9-1-1 Annual Award Winners

On Thursday, September 1, the North Central Texas 9-1-1 Program awarded outstanding telecommunicators, agencies, and communication teams with the Annual 9-1-1 Awards. These awards are presented to individuals or groups who show an outstanding commitment to the 9-1-1 industry. We are proud to have so many dedicated professionals working with us to help save lives every day. Congratulations to the 9-1-1 Annual Award Winners!

2018 Telecommunicator of the Year
Debra Murray, Ellis County Sheriff's Office

2018 Telecommunications Team of the Year
Kaufman County Sheriff's Office

2018 Public Education Professional of the Year
Isis Valdivia, Corsicana Police Department

2018 Supervisor of the Year
Jennifer Humphries, Allen Police Department

2018 Training Professional of the Year
Jenna Whittle, Wise County Sheriff's Office

2018 TDD/TTY Above and Beyond
Collin County Sheriff's Office

2018 Agency of the Year
Northern Ellis Emergency Dispatch Center

The 9-1-1 Professionalism Award

Bonnie Bowers
Collin County Sheriff's Office

Trey Thornhill
Wise County Sheriff's Office

Laura Saulters
Collin County Sheriff's Office

Caylin Milligan
Corsicana Police Department

Sheyen Means
Johnson County Sheriff's Office

Randi Wiggins
McKinney Police Department

Ester Avery
Navarro County Sheriff's Office

Kassie Ivanoski
Mineral Wells Police Department

Amanda Atchinson
Stephenville Police Department

Jamie Gibson
Allen Police Department

9-1-1 Steps into the Future with Supplemental Location

9-1-1 Steps into the Future with Supplemental Location

This morning I have been thinking about Neil Armstrong and his famous quote, “One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”  Supplemental Location for 9-1-1 might come a bit short of walking on the moon, but it is a major advancement for our public safety industry. On Monday, September 17, 2018, Commercial Supplemental Location officially launched in the North Central Texas Council of Governments 9-1-1 (NCTCOG 9-1-1) region on Apple phones that have installed iOS 12.  Today, Google announced that Android phones will also provide supplemental location.

I started my career in 9-1-1 prior to wireless phones.  As a public educator, I was able to honestly inform the public we could find them when they called 9-1-1, even if they could not speak or tell us where they were.  While wireless phones revolutionized our personal lives, they took 9-1-1 accuracy backwards. Although public expectation that 9-1-1 can pinpoint a caller’s location has not changed, 9-1-1 educators were no longer able to make that promise to our citizens.

About 90% of NCTCOG’s 9-1-1 calls are from wireless devices.  Our legacy location technology uses network triangulation of towers, or more recently, trilateration.  This allows a telecommunicator to see an approximate location of an emergency.  While they can probably get fire-fighters close enough to see the smoke, they are challenged to pinpoint the location well enough to send law enforcement or EMS to indoor events, especially in an urban area. This is why we answer the phone, “9-1-1, where is your emergency?”  Unfortunately, medical conditions, stress, domestic violence and active shooters are just a few examples where the caller cannot provide his or her location.  Telecommunicators and first responders have been frustrated with the inability to locate wireless callers for years.

Anything is better than nothing and I am so thankful that the wireless carriers, the FCC and national 9-1-1 associations have been working to improve location accuracy over the last several years.

I want to give special thanks to RapidSOS, who introduced hope for our location challenges when we first met over four years ago.  They had a plan and believed they could create the technology, but they were looking for partners in public safety to tell them what telecommunicators wanted and needed.  They worked with our PSAPs and numerous others over the years. RapidSOS started this as an application (Beacon) and heard the public safety cry that we needed ubiquitous coverage, so they began working with the device providers.  They continued to work with public safety and have gained credibility throughout this journey.

Which brings me to thank our wonderful telecommunicators, supervisors and PSAP administrators who have supported us in these efforts of improvement.  Many of you participated in feedback, focus groups, training, testing, pilot projects and press coverage. You have opened your doors to NCTCOG and RapidSOS and done all that has been asked.  I am also appreciative to the members of NCTCOG 9-1-1 staff who have added to their regular responsibilities to work on this project and achieve this goal.  They did it because they have a passion for 9-1-1 and they believe we can make the service better.  You all have been a part of something great!

But the benefits of supplemental location do not end with those of us in public safety communications, they extend to first responders who will get a better location and be able to reduce response time.  Most importantly, this new service will enhance emergency response for the people we serve in the NCTCOG region, and potentially around the country.  While NCTCOG 9-1-1 has already subscribed to the service, every one of the 6,000 PSAPs across the country will have to sign up for the service through RapidSOS if they want to take advantage of the commercial supplemental information right away.  So this is bigger than NCTCOG – it is an amazing enhancement available to the entire country.  It really is a “giant leap” for the American 9-1-1 industry and public.  Thanks to you all – for joining us in our mission of “Saving lives and making a difference!”