Wireless E 9-1-1 in the Garden State
Amid a world of doubters and disbelievers, the FCC took steps in support of Wireless E9-1-1 and issued 94-102 rule making which called for wireless Automatic Number Identification (ANI) within 18 months and wireless Automatic Location Identification (ALI) within 5 years. This was supported by public safety agencies across the land. Two states, with the help of several vendors which have been strong supporters of the goals of NENA, set out to prove that Phase I (ANI in 18 months) and Phase II (ANI/ALI in five years), directives of 94-102 were not only possible to achieve technically, but could be achieved sooner rather than later.
The first wireless trial in the Garden State was held in October 1994. The project was formed and coordinated by the New Jersey Office of Emergency Telecommunications Services (OETS) and Bell Atlantic. Members of the project included: Rockwell, Smith Advanced Technology (SAT), OETS, Bell Atlantic, and the Gloucester County Communications Center. The project utilized the Global Positioning System (GPS) and SAT equipment. As test calls were initiated, SAT equipment uploaded the GPS information over the cell link to a SAT processor which plotted the caller and sent routing instructions and other location information to a Rockwell SCX 9-1-1 tandem.
The Rockwell SCX tandem routed the call to one of two PSAP positions established at the Gloucester County Communications Center in South Jersey. One position covered Gloucester County and the other position covered Philadelphia which is due West of Gloucester County and across the Delaware River. The system plotted the pseudo 9-1-1 test calls and displayed the caller’s location, speed, and direction on a computer mapping terminal.
The trial used cellular mobile phones mounted in a vehicle coupled with a GPS receiver, both with roof- top mounted antennas. The system worked extremely well and the trial was a complete success. However, it appears questionable that this solution fills the total needs of today’s society. Today, people are purchasing portable cellular and PCS phones in large numbers and using them inside buildings, trains and automobiles, etc. – places where GPS transmissions cannot be received.
Time-difference-of-arrival (TDOA) technology was selected for this project. The project partners are: the Associated Group, Comcast Cellular Communications, OETS, Bell Atlantic, Rockwell, KML, MapInfo, On-Target Mapping, QED, SCC Communications, and the Counties of Burlington, Camden, Gloucester, and Salem. In October, the Associated Group placed 24 TruePosition TDOA receivers at Comcast Cellular sites in the New Jersey Turnpike/I-295 corridor and KML installed their enhanced PSAP terminals.
On January 22, 1997, the system was turned up live for 9-1-1 calls in the trial area. The trial area covers 50 miles of the New Jersey Turnpike and I-295 corridor from the New Jersey/Delaware State border to Bordentown which is just south of Trenton, the State Capital (see Figure 1). Unlike the previous trial, the system does not require modifications to existing cellular phones nor does it require a clear view of several GPS satellites. The receivers are connected via Comcast data links to a TruePositionTM Signal Collection System (SCS) which calculates the 9-1-1 caller’s location, nominally, within 125 meters 67 percent of the time (see Figure 2). At other times, the resolution will be greater or less than 125 meters. The information is then passed to a SCC Communications SR/ALI computer.
The SCC SR/ALI computer determines the Emergency Service Number (ESN) of the wireless caller based on the latitude and longitude of the caller and dynamically creates Selective Routing (SR) and ALI records. The call arrives at the Rockwell SCX 9-1-1 tandem on “Feature Group D” (FGD) trunks from the cellular Mobile Switching Office (MSO). The SCX 9-1-1 tandem then queries the SCC computer for the ESN and ALI information. The SCC computer sends the ESN, latitude/longitude, speed, and direction of the caller to one of New Jersey’s three Rockwell 9-1-1 tandems over data links.
The Rockwell 9-1-1 tandem routes the call based on the ESN received from the SCC computer. The Rockwell tandem then sends the ANI, ALI (latitude/longitude), direction, and speed of the caller to the PSAP. This is accomplished over the standard PSAP circuits which are used for wireline calls. No additional circuits are needed to the PSAP for the wireless calls.
The 9-1-1 calls are answered at the PSAP with KML (Advanced Rockwell IPSAP) terminals with mapping software developed by MapInfo and On-Target Mapping with the assistance of QED. The New Jersey Master Street Address Guide (MSAG) data was created graphically, and maps with the Emergency Service Zones (ESZs), are available statewide. The KML terminals display a standard type ALI screen formatted for wireless data (see Figure 3).
The terminals display the cell site, roam access number, calling party ANI, ALI in latitude/longitude, speed, direction, and the emergency service providers (police, fire, EMS). The terminals then map the wireless call utilizing the MapInfo and On-Target software. The same PSAP terminals can be used for wireline calls and can display maps of those calls based on street addresses. This project is the first wireless project in the nation to pass live Phase II 9-1-1 calls to local PSAPs.
The New Jersey and Texas trials have demonstrated conclusively that wireless ANI and ALI is possible and achievable within the time frames established by the FCC. It is now up to the “covered carriers” to work with the location vendors of their choice to develop systems which will work with the air-interface standard that they have chosen. This need not be a complicated issue. Compliance with 94-102 is a question of will – not a question of can do.
The current New Jersey demonstration is open to the public safety community, equipment vendors, wireless providers, and any other interested party. The demonstration will continue through the end of March. Anyone interested in viewing the demonstration can contact New Jersey OETS, Bell Atlantic, or any of the partners in the project. A full report of the project is being planned for the 1997 Annual NENA Conference in Baltimore. Hope to see you then!
S. Robert Miller is Executive Director of the New Jersey Office of Emergency Telecommunications (OETS), Chair of the NENA Technical Advisory Board, and a member of the NENA PSAP Standards Advisory Board.
The Texas Trial – From Barbed Wire to No Wire
December was a mighty fine month to be a Texan. The sky was blue, birds were singing, the climate was unseasonably warm, history was made, and the dawn of a new era in public safety filled the morning sky. Now, before you succumb to the nausea you are beginning to feel, take a minute to put yourself in the little pickup truck in that South Dakota blizzard, wondering why men have walked on the moon but you’ve just spent the last thirty-eight hours shivering and praying. Why did this poor woman endure such a harrowing experience? They say that timing is everything, and so it strikes me as ironic that this highly publicized tragedy-turned-happy-ending comes during the weeks between the Texas and New Jersey 9-1-1 wireless integration demonstrations. Thanks to the efforts of a local wireless carrier and a couple of F-16 fighter jets, this poor woman will live to be a keynote speaker at some NENA conference.
I’m proud to relay some of our experiences in applying a fix to this very type of problem. A team of experts in the fields of public safety, telecommunications and government finally pulled off what so many said would take years to accomplish. Even to the amazement of some of the team members, the integration of two wireless carriers, location technology, a digital network and high tech PSAP equipment proved to be achievable. We knew that the two-phase FCC mandate 94-102 was not only achievable, but that its goals could easily be surpassed. Our objectives were pretty straightforward. We set out to conquer some fire-breathing dragons and through sheer tenacity, ended up accomplishing our goals:
•Selectively route wireless 9-1-1 calls to the appropriate PSAP
•Deliver the ten-digit telephone number of the calling party (even roamers)
•Locate the caller within 125 meters RMS level of accuracy
•Display the caller’s location on a standard PC-based mapping application
•Graphically depict the estimated accuracy of the location given
•Demonstrate the ability to transfer the call to a neighboring PSAP and
•Demonstrate compatibility with embedded base networks and PSAPS
I am honored to have worked with such a pool of talent as this project brought together. My project co-chair is Beth Ozanich, formerly of Tarrant County 9-1-1 District and now of SCC employ, and our facilitator of bureaucracy, Carey Spence of the Texas 9-1-1 Commission. It all started two years ago when Greater Harris County 9-1-1 decided to prove that integrating wireless and 9-1-1 wasn’t going to take rocket science. But I knew we should not try this alone. I learned that Beth Ozanich possessed more knowledge about mapping and geospatial data (I love that term!) than anyone in the public safety arena, and that my skills and discipline in documenting were no match for hers.
We sought the blessing of our bosses (surely you know our bosses, NENA officers Bill Munn and Laverne Hogan) who then allowed us to approach the Texas Advisory Commission on State Emergency Communications for some funding assistance. The Commission’s own Carey Spence saw quickly that if we could truly pull this thing off, the impact would be statewide, or bigger. She believed in us when so many did not. Mary Boyd fought a few battles for us before she left the Commission, as well. Why Harris County 9-1-1, Tarrant County 9-1-1, and the State 9-1-1 Commission would spend so much time, money and effort on this “star wars stuff” and not buy more call logging recorders was beyond the comprehension of some of our detractors. Those same detractors later came and asked us for copies of the project documentation. God Bless the naysayers! They sometimes provide valuable motivation.
We split the project into two segments in an attempt to follow the FCC report and order. Phase One required that caller ANI be delivered. Our team included some pretty heavy players. We had the participation of GTE Mobilenet, NORTEL, Southwestern Bell, Combix Corp and several others. I’ll try not to wax technical or philosophical, but the scheme went something like this:
GTE Mobilenet assigned pseudo-ANI to all cell sectors in our test area. This is a common practice for most agencies today. Call delivery was via a dedicated T-1 provided by Southwestern Bell and our “goddess of customer service” and full time account manager, Cindy Clugy. The calls were sent to our own NORTEL Meridian One PBX switch, which is of the Option 61C flavor. When using the Feature Group D signaling scheme you get two telephone numbers along with the voice call. Calling party number (CPN) and called party number are delivered at no extra charge. For 9-1-1 purposes, we translated the called party number of 9-1-1 to a usable telephone number known as pseudo-ANI. Pseudo-ANI is nothing more than a concocted telephone number used to uniquely identify a cell site or sector.
Phase Two, which included delivery of specific wireless location via location determination technology (LDT – a new acronym for us 9-1-1ers) got really exciting as we moved into the public switched network. Houston Cellular was our partner for this portion of the trial, connecting their cellular switch to the Southwestern Bell selective routing tandem (a Lucent 5ESS). This was a digital connection utilizing SS7 to deliver the call with both telephone numbers. A fast network, indeed, as we experienced call delivery times under two seconds.
The Southwestern Bell tandem was connected to an SCC Communications product known as SR/ALI. This is a data base application with call routing capabilities that substituted for the selective routing process normally associated with a 5E tandem. The SR/ALI box performed a “point-in-polygon” routine that delivered a normal ESN to the tandem. The switch used in this phase was actually the in-service central office that feeds dial tone to the world renowned Texas Medical Center. The 9-1-1 generic software was loaded and the switch just sat there, fat and happy, doing what a 9-1-1 tandem normally does … take appropriate phone number in, look up phone number in ESN data base, route call to appropriate PSAP. We didn’t bother to tell it that it was talking to a third party data base, and it didn’t ask or seem to care.
Lou Stilp gift wrapped TruePosition, a company of The Associated Group, and provided our LDT. Timed difference of arrival, or TDOA, was used to determine the caller’s location. This is the old mathematical routine we used to hate in algebra class. You remember how it works…
A train leaves New York at noon on Thursday, bound for L.A. at a speed of 50 miles per hour. Another train leaves L.A. bound for New York at a speed of 62 miles per hour. At what time do the trains meet and what color is the caboose?
Since we all know that a tandem looks for an ESN and 9-1-1 call takers look for a street address, we applied the interpretation skill of SCC’s SR/ALI box. It speaks 9-1-1. The SR/ALI application takes the latitude/longitude information and plots boundaries, as well, so when the lat/long is plotted, an ESN is obtained and fed to a data record that is created “on the fly.” When the tandem comes calling with a telephone number, the SR/ALI shoves an ESN onto the front porch, and a marriage is born.
NORTEL’s Derek Prada provided facilitation, software mods, and our project manager, Chris Ouellette. The calls were delivered to one of our three test PSAPs. The PSAP CPE used was again VISIT ENR®. The first PSAP was connected digitally to the tandem via Primary Rate Interface (PRI). The other two were via the conventional CAMA PSAP trunks. PSAP one could get all ten digits of the caller’s telephone number, even if they were a roamer! The other two only received the normal eight digit but could retrieve the correct data via the ALI lookup. The VISIT ENR® application can tell the difference and query the normal ALI data base for wireline calls, or query the SR/ALI data base for the wireless calls. Wireless ALI data came in the conventional format but also contained lat/long and other information. The ENR workstations were integrated with MapInfo mapping software. VISIT ENR® was able to call up the appropriate map and display the caller’s location. Additionally, a circle of confidence was automatically drawn around it to depict the level of confidence, or accuracy of each test call generated. A picture is truly worth a thousand words and thanks to Rick Maw of Combix Corp., the plotting and display routine occurred in just a couple of seconds. It should be noted that if one has an accurate street centerline file available, lat/long generated by the LDT can be translated into a street style address, alleviating the need for desktop mapping installation. ALI could be delivered in the standard textual form.
GTE Telops provided the services of GTE Labs to lend objective and academic validation of our project and conduct statistical analysis. Remember, no project is really valid until some smart person says so.
The project demonstrated that technology is not a barrier for real solutions to the wireless 9-1-1 issue. We demonstrated over a two-week period to professionals from the areas of public safety and government, and both wireline and wireless telecommunications. Team work, in the true sense of the word, is the real answer. Don’t tell us it can’t be done, we just did it! Although there are other ways to slay this dragon, we believe that good old fashioned American ingenuity will always prevail. Leave your embedded mindset and your politics at the door and get busy. It’s time ask for the order. Call your wireless carrier and do lunch. It will be the best Big Mac investment you’ll make for a long time.
And, by the way, extensive documentation will soon be available for distribution on the technical aspects of the Texas WIP project, including some discussion of other successful trials accomplished by Clark County, Washington, and the New Jersey State Police. If you desire a copy of this documentation, call our project manager, Chris Ouellette at 905-863-2195. Don’t call Chris until April, though; that’s when the document will be ready. And by all means, don’t call me because I’ll be at Charter Hospital in their Wireless Recovery Program. Now put this down and get to work!
John R. Melcher is Director of Information Systems in the Greater Harris County 9-1-1 Emergency Network. The Network is the largest 9-1-1 system in Texas and the third largest in the United States, serving two counties, 47 PSAPs, 900 telecommunicators, and approximately 156 responding agencies including police, fire and EMS for 3 million citizens.
The Race to Promote 9-1-1
CORDOVA, Ala. – Most people think it’s a little insane to drive a car in excess of 150 miles per hour. Not Danny Bagwell. He loves it. In fact, the faster he drives the better he likes it.
As a driver on NASCAR’s Goody Dash Series, Bagwell’s success depends on speed and endurance and everything working properly.
Now he’s hoping to use his name recognition and the car he drives to help spread the word on how important using 9-1-1 is.
Bagwell now tools around some of the most famous race tracks in the country with the 9-1-1 logo and the words “One Nation, One Number” on the back of his car. His sponsorship will hopefully spread the message that using 9-1-1 helps save lives.
Placing the logo on the back of the car cost Bagwell and his team valuable sponsorship money because the logo is placed on what some consider prime advertising space on the car. But he doesn’t look at it as costing him money. He instead prefers to look at it as helping out where help is needed.
“When you do something like this, most of the time it comes back to you somewhere down the road,” he said. “But that’s not the reason we put it on the car. The reason is mainly because E9-1-1 director Roger Wilson called and asked me if I would help out in some way. Everybody needs to be aware that you can call 9-1-1 in our area and get whatever kind of help you need.
“With TV and radio and newspapers and trade magazines for this kind of racing, I don’t know how many people will actually see this every year. But it is a tremendous amount. It’s an enormous number of people.”
Spending his weekends at tracks across the country gives Bagwell and his racing team an excellent opportunity to spread the word of just how important 9-1-1 is.
“Danny built his shop and was needing an address for it so he could get phone service,” Wilson said, “so he called me and we got together and named the road Pit Road. About an hour later I called him back and asked if we could put 9-1-1 on the car. He agreed to do it and said it wouldn’t cost a dime. I give credit to Danny and his team for doing this. He’s been real supportive of us and he’s let us use this space that he could probably use for revenue for his racing team. He’s a community-minded person and was real willing to do this for us.”
Bagwell first got hooked on racing in 1984 while tooling around the small track at Sayre Speedway just a few miles from his home. That first experience was the beginning of what has become a true success story.
“We didn’t do real well our first year, but the second year we came back and got better and started winning a few races,” Bagwell, now 35, said. “The third year we ran at Sayre and out of 19 won 14 of those and won the championship in that series two years in a row. We then graduated a little bit up the line and kept doing better. And as long as you’re doing better, there’s no reason to stop.”
While he’s now on the Goody’s Dash Series, Bagwell admitted that one day he would like to step up with the big boys – the Winston Cup Series. “I would love to be a Winston Cup driver and make a living doing that,” he said. “But I’m not going to die tomorrow if that doesn’t happen.”
Bagwell’s primary sponsor is Primestar by TCI. Associate sponsors include Ford SVO, Lane Automotive, Fontana Automotive, R&H Performance, and Blake Fuel Systems. His father, Wilson Bagwell, serves as his crew chief. Crew members include Shawn Herald, Don Wilson, Grady Wilson and Chris Sherer.
Bagwell was named the 1992 Rookie of the Year in the Goody’s Dash Series after posting a win and two Busch pole positions. In 1993, he finished 10th in the points standings and won two pole positions. In 1995, he won two races and finished sixth in the points standings.
In the first race of the season at Daytona International Speedway, Bagwell finished 20th after starting the race in the 16th position. Since then he’s finished second three times, third twice and fourth once. His standing in the points race peaked when he was first after a May 4th race at Nashville. He finished the 1996 NASCAR Goody’s Dash Series fourth in the points standings.
Ron Harris is a reporter for the Eagle, a Jasper, Alabama, newspaper.
Protecting 9-1-1 Data Base Confidentiality
On August 5, 1996, Rhode Island Governor Lincoln Almond signed into law two legislative bills which will have a profound effect upon the status of 9-1-1 caller privacy.
In reality, the concern for 9-1-1 caller privacy is not unique to the new legislation. The original 9-1-1 Emergency Telephone Number Act of 1986 contained language which prohibited dissemination of information contained in the 9-1-1 data base. The problem with the enabling language was that it contained two sections which could be variously interpreted. For example, the section which protected 9-1-1 data base information from all purposes except “…handling emergency calls” defined data base information as the names, addresses, and telephone subscribers whose listing are not published. One could reasonably conclude that those 9-1-1 callers whose listings are published were not protected by the confidentiality section of the statute. Following that reasoning, 9-1-1 voice recordings and printed data associated with listed telephone subscribers fell under the “segregable portion” of the confidentiality section and was public information.
In a proceeding section of the same legislation, reference to data base information is all encompassing: “Dissemination of the information contained in the data base for other than emergency purposes is prohibited.” That section, one could argue, embraces all information contained in the 9-1-1 data base.
In an effort to clear the ambiguity from the legislation and to provide for a standard process for addressing the status of 9-1-1 voice tape recordings and computer printouts, a new section and amended language was inserted in the 9-1-1 Emergency Telephone Number Act during the 1996 session of the Rhode Island General Assembly.
With few exceptions, Rhode Island law now clearly prohibits public disclosure of the contents of any 9-1-1 voice recording, and any 9-1-1 call processing record, a move which opponents conclude will build a wall of secrecy around 9-1-1 activities and stifle public accountability.
Supporters of the confidentiality legislation see it differently. They advocate that 9-1-1 accountability is not the issue; that accountability was introduced by opponents as a diversion, a tactic to confuse and rally the public, while masking the real issue which is 9-1-1 caller privacy.
9-1-1 is without question a public agency responsible to the public for its activities; questions surrounding 9-1-1 personnel performance, policies, procedures, etc., will continue to be public information. The new law only protects the caller and the caller’s preference for, or expectation of, privacy when he/she dials 9-1-1. If the caller chooses to make his/her 9-1-1 call a public issue, the recording of that call will be released. The Rhode Island 9-1-1 agency, which serves the state from one central PSAP and uses the transfer method, will release a voice tape copy of the call in question to the caller “…whose voice is recorded” when the request is made in writing. That caller may then distribute the recording as he or she pleases.
The law is so protective of the 9-1-1 caller’s privacy that emergency service providers who are given access to 9-1-1 caller information can use it “on a call-by-call basis only for the purpose of handling emergency calls…” and for public safety purposes, including training.
Emergency service suppliers, (in Rhode Island, secondary public safety answering points or PSAPs), are required to maintain the confidentiality of all calls transferred and can use the information contained in each call for the purposes prescribed by law. Secondary PSAPs cannot release 9-1-1 caller information to the public.
The providers of 9-1-1 emergency services fully understand that 9-1-1 activities will always attract a high degree of public scrutiny due in no small part to the fact that 9-1-1 activities affect vital public needs. They also realize that intense public scrutiny is as vital to the motivation and maintenance of high 9-1-1 performance standards as 9-1-1 performance is vital to the safety of the public it serves. Those checks and balances will remain intact.
Colonel Ernest Ricci is executive director of the E9-1-1 Emergency Telephone System in North Providence, Rhode Island.
|Copyright 1997–NENA News Magazine