NG911 for Fire Guide

Understanding Next Generation 911

Understanding Next Generation 911 Table of Contents
What is Next Generation 911 (NG911)?
Why do we need NG911?
Why is NG911 important for EMS?
What is FirstNet and why do we need both NG911 and FirstNet?
What’s the difference between the systems?
How soon will NG911 be upgraded in my community?

What is Next Generation 911 (NG911)?
NG911 is new technology that allows the public to share richer, more detailed data—such as videos, images and texts—with 911 call centers. It also enhances the ability of 911 call centers to communicate with each other and improves system resiliency.

Why do we need NG911?
NG911 modernizes 911 infrastructure to accommodate how people communicate today—largely through mobile and digital devices. NG911 allows the public to send digital data to 911 call centers, or public safety answering points (PSAPs), and lets the PSAPs receive data from other transmitting devices such as wearable medical devices, car computers and building alarms. NG911 enables faster network communication and call load sharing between PSAPs. In mass casualty incidents or natural disasters—when the PSAP becomes overwhelmed by calls—NG911 allows for calls to be automatically transferred and processed by another available 911 call center.

Why is NG911 important for EMS?
Why do we need NG911?For EMS professionals, NG911 has wide-reaching applications. Digitally connected sensors and medical applications can enhance situational awareness by transmitting valuable information via NG911 to PSAPs. The rich data includes critical health information, real-time data from wearable devices and crucial details from a car crash to better assess the medical conditions of occupants. The information then can be sent to EMS responders, helping them make more informed decisions.

Dia Gainor, Executive Director of the National Association of State EMS Officials, considers NG911’s ability to handle rich data as vital for a faster response and to keep EMS responders safer with improved situational awareness. “Now all of that intelligence in a NG911 world will be available to dispatch immediately,” Gainor says.

Matt Zavadsky, President- Elect of the National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians, acknowledges that some responders view NG911 benefits as futuristic. But he points out that the same responders question why 911 is unable to perform smartphone functions such as sharing a video and pinpointing a location. Says Zavadsky, “They see the benefits of their smart device in a Lyft driver finding them at the airport or delivering a Domino’s pizza.”

What is FirstNet and why do we need both NG911 and FirstNet?
FirstNet is a wireless nationwide network that gives public safety officials a dedicated network for communicating with one another in the field, and allows them to receive important digital information from PSAPs.

“The FirstNet spectrum is so large that it can hold hundreds of simultaneous communications without clogging a network.”

Chief Jeff Johnson, CEO of the Western Fire Chiefs Association and former Vice Chair of the FirstNet Board of Directors



Through the FirstNet network, emergency dispatchers can securely share critical information about the scene of an incident, such as building layouts, potential injuries, photos, videos and real-time updates, including information provided by the public to PSAPs via NG911. FirstNet ensures that first responder teams can still communicate with each other when public communication channels are overloaded. Explains Chief Jeff Johnson, CEO of the Western Fire Chiefs Association and former Vice Chair of the FirstNet Board of Directors, “The FirstNet spectrum is so large that it can hold hundreds of simultaneous communications without clogging a network.”

Together, NG911 and FirstNet are two parts of one emergency communication system that moves public safety technology into the digital age. They complement each other and, when coordinated, will enable the exchange of rich data among the public, 911 and first responders.

What’s the difference between the systems?
You have likely heard of FirstNet because it was created with government oversight and was initially funded by Congress. It’s a dedicated public safety broadband network, built by AT&T, that allows for local, regional and nationwide communication among responders.

Why is NG911 important for EMS services?You may not have heard of NG911 because it’s being implemented independently by states, regional authorities, counties and municipalities. NG911 technology is based on software systems running on high-speed managed networks. This technology interconnects PSAPs with systems that are able to deliver improved location accuracy, caller information, and data related to a location, such as sensors or alarms. The NG911 infrastructure enhances dispatchers' ability to receive 911 calls from mobile phones and devices, as well as receive text messages and faster, more accurate caller location information.

Once NG911 is implemented, emergency service providers will reap more benefits from FirstNet. NG911 is the other half of the equation because it allows the public to send relevant data to call centers and enables EMS professionals to have access to this data to make mission critical decisions.


How soon will NG911 be upgraded in my community?
The progress for implementing NG911 varies nationwide. Some states have not yet begun planning, while others are in progress and some, like Massachusetts, Maine, Vermont and Indiana, have completed the initial transition to NG911.◆