Getting Ready to Take the Text-to-911 Plunge?

As of May 15, 2014, the four major carriers in the US – Verizon, AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile – all voluntarily committed to providing text-to-911 as a service in areas where 911 call centers are prepared to receive them.

While text-to-911 is a voluntary option for PSAPs, some have already taken the initiative to become text-to-911 capable. If you’re considering text-to-911 for your PSAP, you probably have a lot of questions, like how is text-to-911 delivered to the PSAP, and how will it affect my call taking and dispatch processes?

Two questions I often hear are “will I need to log these texts, and if so how can it be done?” Just as it’s essential to record 911 and radio calls, it’s equally important to log text communications, especially for those high risk situations where a person in need of emergency service cannot call. Think of how often your PSAP reproduces voice recordings for quality assurance, investigations and evidence. If your PSAP is considering taking the text-to-911 plunge, you’re going to need be able to capture these communications too.

Here are some pointers and questions you’ll need to ask:

1. What do I need to ask my text-to-911 vendor?

In order to log text communication, the text handling application needs to provide a logging feed. Ask your text handling application vendor if they can support:

  • NENA’s i3 logging interface

  • A proprietary text-logging interface

Your logging vendor will need this information to provide an applicable quote. A NENA i3 logging interface is likely to be the most cost-effective solution as it will be common to many vendors.

2. Where should I store my texts?

  • In the cloud with a web-based text feed

  • In CAD/RMS

  • In an integrated NG9-1-1-ready logging solution

Cloud-based storage may be a good solution if you use a web-based application. Storage in an existing CAD or RMS database could also be an option for text communication storage, but these systems may not integrate with your existing voice logging investigation tools, making investigations more complex.

Text-to-911 is the first step on the path to NG9-1-1. Adopting an integrated NG9-1-1 ready logging system is a sound investment as it provides a platform for supporting other NG9-1-1 features as they become standard. This type of solution will provide a single investigation tool for all types of communication sent to the PSAP, in addition to capturing all field interactions.

3. What other features should I be looking for?

Make sure the incident reconstruction interface is capable of synchronizing text communications with other multimedia, such as audio, screen, GIS, and video. Providing a complete authentic picture of the incident, including the text interaction, is crucial for both investigation and QA purposes.

4. I already have a voice logging system. Do I need to replace it to get text logging?

No. If your existing voice logging system is already based on a flexible multi-media architecture you can add text logging and i3 capabilities while continuing to maximize current investments.

5. What about context analytics?

Yes, it’s important and helpful. It gives you the ability to analyze the text content and correlate it with audio analytics to identify incident related calls, high attention incidents and event trends.

You can read more about this topic in 9-1-1 Magazine.

If you would like you see a demo of Text-to-911 logging, I will be at the NENA Conference & Expo next week. Feel free to email me at to schedule a meeting.

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