Advancements in 911 technology now provide PSAP/ECC staff and first responders with more detailed and accurate data about callers and incidents. Sharing this data between first responder agencies is vital to improving response times and outcomes and providing robust situational awareness. The faster a PSAP can dispatch the appropriate response—which hinges on the immediate availability of high-quality data—the likelier it is that crash victims, for example, will survive their injuries.
A nationally uniform 911 data system can provide 911 and community leaders with this essential information. It will assist with strategic planning, governance decisions and operational improvements at all levels of the nation’s 911 systems. While 911 data is regularly collected, challenges still exist in comparing data across states and even jurisdictions.
So what does a nationally uniform 911 data system look like? This is the work of the 911 DataPath Strategic Plan, which describes the characteristics of an ideal future environment where data can be exchanged on a scheduled, ad hoc or near real-time basis.
The plan has five strategic goals:
1. Data uniformity
2. Automated data-handling
3. Role-based information-sharing
4. Sustainable vital support mechanisms
5. Data-savvy 911 professionals
The work of the 911DataPath project is being done in the context of Next Generation 911 (NG911). An NG911 environment at PSAPs/ECCs enables features and functions not available in the legacy 911 environment. This includes the ability to transfer calls and share call data between all the nation’s PSAPs.
In this environment, data consistency and uniformity take on special significance, as do cooperation and collaboration among PSAPs. While standards development organizations (SDOs) have completed standards for NG911 system infrastructure components, to date there is no national uniform set of 911 data elements used by PSAPs to receive, process and share 911 data, hampering efforts to provide consistent data for 911 decision-making at all levels of government. Simply put, the completion of a national uniform 911 data system is essential to the advancement of 911.
What's Happening Now
From November 2021 through October 2023, the NTHSA National 911 Program, conducted a pilot project to create the first 911 data-exchange model at local, state and regional levels.
The strategic plan’s first goal—data uniformity—has two components: building a common language by creating a data dictionary and building a data-sharing (or exchange) framework through the use of regional, state and federal data exchanges.
Specific outcomes of the pilot included:
A highly visible 911 landscape: Demonstrate a nationwide view of operational 911 systems, resources and assets.
More informed decision-making: Provide easy data discovery and access as well as meaningful visualization and reporting.
Multijurisdictional collaboration: Provide seamless interoperability and shared situational awareness.
More efficient operations: Provide data uniformity as well as automated collection, use, analysis, and exchange of 911 data.
A Call to Action
The public safety community—and the 911 community in specific—must support a uniform method for collecting data at the local, regional, state, tribal and federal levels for better-informed 911 and emergency-response decision-making. At a minimum, this ongoing initiative should:
Drive consensus regarding standards used to define terminology used in the data-collection process
Create an enhanced data dictionary that associations, 911 centers, and vendors will use to ensure the ability to generate data that is measurable and universally understandable
Encourage consensus regarding data collection and sharing to include agreement on:
Standardized language and definitions
How data is collected, stored and exchanged
How data is used and by whom
How data is secured
How to train personnel to interpret the data
"911 DataPath: A Strategic Plan for Sharing 911 Data Nationwide": This webinar provides an overview of t the initiative, including how access to timely, automated and reliable data-sharing will help PSAPs/ECCs and the types of data under consideration.
“Help Wanted: Working Together to Harness the Power of Data for 911”: This 2019 Urgent Communications article summarizes the process, challenges and questions the team faced in developing a vision for nationally uniform 911 data, including the need for a framework for usable data within the 911 community.
To learn more about the 911 DataPath Initiative, contact email@example.com.