Funding Emergency Communications: Technology and Policy Considerations


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Original Article. Naim Kapucu Search for more papers by this author. Murat Yuksel Search for more papers by this author.

Lesson 6.6 Emergency Communications

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The Promise of 5G

Institutional Login. Log in to Wiley Online Library. Purchase Instant Access. View Preview. Learn more Check out. Citing Literature. Volume 9 , Issue 1 March Pages Related Information. Close Figure Viewer. Browse All Figures Return to Figure. Previous Figure Next Figure. Email or Customer ID. So emergency calling is fundamentally a question of ensuring that a PSAP is reached that is responsible for the geographical area the emergency caller is currently located iin order to dispatch first responders. There are thus three fundamental functional requirements for a successful emergency call whether over the PSTN, VoIP, or any other technology :.

The challenge in enabling emerency calling using a given communications system is thus to determine how each of these steps is accomplished within that system.

Social Media for Emergencies and Disasters: Overview and Policy Considerations

In fixed-line PSTN networks, all three requirements were essentially met by virtue of wiring: Customer lines are connected to local switching centers, and switching centers typically cover areas that are served by a single PSAP, so any emergency call that arrives at a switching center can be routed to a dedicated line to the PSAP. In reality, the situation is somewhat more complex, but we summarize here for simplicity. The advent of cellular systems forced a degree of separation among these functions, since the caller's location was not known in advance.

In order to provide emergency calling, cellular networks had to deploy specific capabilities to locate their subscribers, and upgrade switches that handle emergency calls so that they can query those capabilities and route calls based on the subsequent location.

The Promise of 5G

Even in this case, however, the routing function can be fairly static, because a particular cellular network only covers a specific geographic area. The IP-based emergency services access architectures differentiate a few components that have different responsibilities for offering the complete end-to-end functionality. These roles are:. The emergency call interaction on a high level takes place as follows: the user enters an emergency services number or potentially an emergency dial string.

Securing Our 5G Future

The end device recognises the entered sequence of digits as an emergency call attempt and determines whether location information is available locally as part of the GPS module, for example. If no location information is available locally then various protocol extensions have been defined that allow the end host to obtain location information from a Location Information Server in the ISPs network.

Often, this decision is based on a combination of the callers location information as well as other policy aspects such as time-of-day, workload of a specific PSAP. When considering IP-access to emergency services, one should consider the following categories and the challenges they induce:. Note: This is a simplified view on networking from the users point of view. As network architectures become more sophisticated the boundaries between these scenarios get more fuzzy.

As an example, one may consider a traveller using a laptop with wireless LAN as he uses at home in a train connected. The network infrastructure in the train is connected via a cellular infrastructure to the Internet. This example blurs nomadic access and mobile access. Consider another example where a teenager uses his high-performance laptop for gaming and sometimes uses it at home as a replacement for the desktop PC and sometimes at some LAN parties to compete with other games.

From software program point of view these cases are very hard to differentiate since in all cases the end device is uses WLAN technology to communicate with the network. Hence, it is left to the user to 'switch' between usage environments, which introduce problems when software developers make too restrictive assumptions about the environment where their devices will later be used or about the users awareness of the necessary configuration changes.

Ideally, users should not need to configure their devices to prepare for the case of an emergency call. For the unlikely case of an emergency users should not be required to ever configure their device - zero configuration is the goal.

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From user-experience point of view the overall process of establishing an emergency call begins someone dialling an emergency dial string. The exact sequence of digits depends on the infrastructure the device is connected to. While became the emergency services number for Europe and the emergency number for the US many countries still provide additional emergency numbers mostly for historical reasons. Furthermore, many large enterprises, university, and hotels prefix the emergency numbers with additional digits, such as An important part of emergency handling is in the logic of delivering emergency calls to the appropriate PSAP.

Consider the following example where user Bob travels to from Sweden to Spain and wants to use their device to trigger an emergency real-time text interaction. Since Bob is using a real-time text provider in Sweden the messages are routed to the Swedish operator. Based on the provided location the Swedish operator notices that a PSAP in Spain has to be involved and, for example, initiates a conference bridge with Bob, a relay provider in Sweden serving as a language translator, and the PSAP operator in Spain.

Location information is needed by emergency services for three reasons: routing the call to the right PSAP, dispatching first responders e. It is clear that the location has to be automatic for the first and third application, but experience has shown that automated, highly-accurate location information is vital to dispatching as well, rather than relying on the caller to report his or her location to the call taker.

This increases accuracy and avoids dispatch delays when the caller is unable to provide location information due to language barriers, lack of familiarity with his or her surroundings, stress, physical or mental impairment. Location information for emergency purposes comes in two representations: geo detic , i. Particularly for indoor location, vertical information floors is very useful. Civic locations are most useful for fixed Internet access, including wireless hot spots, and are often preferable for specifying indoor locations, while geodetic location is frequently used for cell phones.

However, with the advent of femto, and pico cells, civic location is both possible and probably preferable since accurate geodetic information can be very hard to acquire indoors. Before location can be put into a protocol for delivery and utilised it first needs to be determined. Location information can be entered by a user "manual configuration" , measured by the end host, can be delivered to the end system by some protocol or measured by a third party.

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The actual process of location determination is largely outside the scope of the REACH project but manual configuration, GPS usage, and the usage of location servers is relevant. Many VoIP deployments allow their users to manually enter location information for later usage with emergency services. Typically, the users enter their home address into a web-based form and this data would then be used for emergency service call routing and also delivered to PSAP operators.


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This mechanism is primarily suitable for users utilising fixed network deployments such as Cable and DSL networks rather than cellular networks where the current users location changes continuously. For nomadic users this approach already becomes very cumbersome for end users.

While this mechanism clearly has limitations it is still a useful approach in absence of other techniques. For devices like laptops and in particular mobile phones the usage of GPS is a promising technique that is able to provide highly accuracy. While it has also has limitations for example when used indoor and may need a fair amount of time to provide the initial location fix it is a promising technique. The requirements for location accuracy differ between routing and dispatch.

For call routing, city or even county-level accuracy is often sufficient, depending on how large the PSAP service areas are, while first responders benefit greatly when they can pinpoint the caller to a particular building or, better yet, apartment or office for indoor locations, and an outdoor area of at most a few hundred meters outdoors.


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This avoids having to search multiple buildings, e. For a realiable emergency services infrastructure utilizing the location information provided by ISPs is important, largely for dispatch purposes since the accuracy is sufficiently high to allow first responders to locate the person in need for help. In this section we discuss how the responsibilities for deployment need to be shared based on the architectural illustration from Figure 1.

Note that this narration focuses on the final stage of deployment and do not discuss the transition architecture, in which some implementation responsibilities can be re-arranged, with an impact on the overall functionality offered by the emergency services architecture. A few variations were introduced to handle the transition from the current system to a fully developed ECRIT architecture.

An end host, through its VoIP application, has three main responsibilities: it has to attempt to obtain its own location, determine the URI of the appropriate PSAP for that location, and recognize when the user places an emergency call by examining the dial string.

Funding Emergency Communications: Technology and Policy Considerations Funding Emergency Communications: Technology and Policy Considerations
Funding Emergency Communications: Technology and Policy Considerations Funding Emergency Communications: Technology and Policy Considerations
Funding Emergency Communications: Technology and Policy Considerations Funding Emergency Communications: Technology and Policy Considerations
Funding Emergency Communications: Technology and Policy Considerations Funding Emergency Communications: Technology and Policy Considerations
Funding Emergency Communications: Technology and Policy Considerations Funding Emergency Communications: Technology and Policy Considerations
Funding Emergency Communications: Technology and Policy Considerations Funding Emergency Communications: Technology and Policy Considerations

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