Traditional 9-1-1 systems, which date back to 1970s, support only voice, while non-emergency communications now feature other media. Adding additional media for 9-1-1 presents opportunities and challenges. Text messages, images captured by cell phones, video clips, and automatic crash notification messages can dramatically enhance the 9-1-1 services by expediting emergency responses and reducing crash clearance times. The rapid increase of residential, nomadic and mobile VoIP usage requires the development of VoIP-based next generation 9-1-1 systems and services that will replace the current circuit-switched 9-1-1 systems. Beyond limitations in media and mobility support, existing systems are inefficient and cannot easily accommodate new functionality. This project is a collaboration among University of North Texas, Columbia University and Texas A&M University, where UNT will be the lead institution, to develop a testbed that will enable research on understanding and analysis of next generation 9-1-1 services. The testbed make possible research and development in reliability, security, function-appropriate privacy and other areas that already difficult in large scale VoIP, but which become daunting when the VoIP system is critical infrastructure.
The broader impacts of this project are many. A testbed for Internet-based 9-1-1 research is particularly important as both state and federal governments are in the process of planning next-generation emergency communication platforms, unfortunately often without adequate vendor-neutral testing and evaluation. Users of the testbed will investigate issues related to:
The PIs expect to translate results from research on this infrastructure to engineering guidelines and disseminate results across government organizations, standards bodies such as IETF and National Emergency Number Association (NENA) and 9-1-1 centers. Moreover, the findings from the experiments in this project will be useful for the residents across USA.