Chris Vitek
Chris Vitek manages the Contact Center Practice within Cognizant's Conversational AI Venture and he is also a member of the...
Read Full Bio >>

Chris Vitek | November 24, 2015 |


NG911: WebRTC to the Rescue

NG911: WebRTC to the Rescue While 911 upgrades are mired in indecision, budget deficiencies, and political squabbles, WebRTC can help flip the switch on emergency communications services.

While 911 upgrades are mired in indecision, budget deficiencies, and political squabbles, WebRTC can help flip the switch on emergency communications services.

Earlier this month campus safety at my alma mater, Towson University, became pressworthy at No Jitter. Not because something bad happened, but something good -- it seems it has implemented a mobile public safety solution for students and faculty. What also got my attention was that this solution, from SaferMobility, is based on WebRTC.

As some of you may already know, the vast majority of 911 public-safety answering points (PSAPs) are still using analog or TDM technologies. While some jurisdictions have implemented the IP-based architecture defined by the National Emergency Number Association (NENA), which is the governing body for 911 standards, adoption has been slow.

The challenge is the migration of computer-aided dispatch (CAD) and geo-location solutions from old voice switches to new voice switches. First, this is difficult to do without interrupting services, and second, voice is not the only media that is important. Add short message service, video, and file transfer to the mix, and you can see why adoption of any one-for-one VoIP replacement solutions has been slow.


PSAPs have lived with features defined by service providers for so long that most are not aware that alternatives are available. Culturally, telecom professionals have the same problem. Getting "outside the box" is difficult when carriers and the government are writing the rules. Towson has ignored the box. That is the power of WebRTC. If you don't like what the telco offers, then create your own features.

While 911 upgrades are mired in indecision, budget deficiencies, and political squabbles, SaferMobility has flipped the switch on emergency communications services. The architecture allows for implementation in parallel with existing 911/CAD solutions, but it does not replace them -- at least, not for now. These solutions offer a clean slate.

Coincidentally, NENA and its European counterparts have defined architecture for NG911. It includes signaling and media services that are logically separated in a peer-to-peer architecture in support of SIP communications and integration of multiple sources of contextual data. Their efforts are interesting in that the codecs for any communications media supported by SIP are supported by WebRTC, too.

Further, broad swaths of SIP signaling content can be reused in WebRTC. So for recording and encryption, it is no surprise that SaferMobility is using Dialogic media services that comply with the NENA's NG911 architecture. In other words, adoption of solutions like SaferMobility for alternative 911 services provide PSAPs with a migration strategy to complete NG911 implementation.

In addition to the NG911 media and signaling services, SaferMobility's solution has two components: a mobile app and a dispatcher interface. The mobile app runs on the Android and Apple iOS operating systems, and the dispatcher interface runs within a Chrome browser. The mobile app supports two methods of engaging emergency services. One is a replication of the existing 911 services, although with different data and architecture. The second is a very different use case for triggering the engagement of emergency resources.

One unique "mobile escort" feature allows a user to start up the mobile app on a smartphone and press his or her thumb to the screen until arriving at a safe location. If the user removes his or her thumb from the screen for more than five seconds (minimum and configurable), then the smartphone location data, video, and audio begin streaming to the PSAP interface while sounding an audible alarm on the smartphone. This content is stored in a secure repository as evidence and integration with CAD systems is available. This is not your father's 911.

Steve Peck, board of visitors member at Towson and SVP at SAP, shared this thought: "Student safety is paramount to any university. This is the type of innovative solution that can be implemented and adopted quickly at a relatively low cost and make a significant impact to the overall safety plan."

The brilliance of the Towson implementation is that it does not break anything while offering a unique and functional alternative to dialing 911. The industry has recognized this with awards from the National Organization of Black Law Executives and the Cellular Telephone Industry Association WebRTC adoption is happening in places where complexity trumps the ability for government or telcos to respond. Add this to the long list of WebRTC solutions that Amazon, Comcast, Vonage, and Yahoo already have brought to market.


Enterprise Connect Orlando 2018
March 12-15 | Orlando, FL

Connect with the Entire Enterprise Communications & Collaboration Ecosystem

Stay Up-to-Date: Hear industry visionaries in Keynotes and General Sessions delivering the latest insight on UC, mobility, collaboration and cloud

Grow Your Network: Connect with the largest gathering of enterprise IT and business leaders and influencers

Learn From Industry Leaders: Attend a full range of Conference Sessions, Free Programs and Special Events

Evaluate All Your Options: Engage with 190+ of the leading equipment, software and service providers

Have Fun! Mingle with sponsors, exhibitors, attendees, guest speakers and industry players during evening receptions

Register now with code NOJITTEREB to save $200 Off Advance Rates or get a FREE Expo Pass!

March 7, 2018

Video collaboration is experiencing significant change and innovation-how can your enterprise take advantage? In this webinar, leading industry analyst Ira Weinstein will present detailed analysis

February 21, 2018

Business agility has become the strongest driver for enterprises to begin migrating their communications to the cloud-and its a benefit that enterprises are already realizing. To gain this benefit

February 7, 2018

Enterprises are starting to grasp the critical importance of security and compliance in their team collaboration deployments. And once the risks are mitigated, your enterprise can integrate these n

March 12, 2018
An effective E-911 implementation doesn't just happen; it takes a solid strategy. Tune in for tips from IT expert Irwin Lazar, of Nemertes Research.
March 9, 2018
IT consultant Steve Leaden lays out the whys and how-tos of getting the green light for your convergence strategy.
March 7, 2018
In advance of his speech tech tutorial at EC18, communications analyst Jon Arnold explores what voice means in a post-PBX world.
February 28, 2018
Voice engagement isn't about a simple phone call any longer, but rather a conversational experience that crosses from one channel to the next, as Daniel Hong, a VP and research director with Forrester....
February 16, 2018
What trends and technologies should you be up on for your contact center? Sheila McGee-Smith, Contact Center & Customer Experience track chair for Enterprise Connect 2018, gives us the lowdown.
February 9, 2018
Melanie Turek, VP of connected work research at Frost & Sullivan, walks us through key components -- and sticking points -- of customer-oriented digital transformation projects.
February 2, 2018
UC consultant Marty Parker has crunched lots of numbers evaluating UC options; tune in for what he's learned and tips for your own analysis.
January 26, 2018
Don't miss out on the fun! Organizer Alan Quayle shares details of his pre-Enterprise Connect hackathon, TADHack-mini '18, showcasing programmable communications.
December 20, 2017
Kevin Kieller, partner with enableUC, provides advice on how to move forward with your Skype for Business and Teams deployments.
December 20, 2017
Zeus Kerravala, principal analyst with ZK Research, shares his perspective on artificial intelligence and the future of team collaboration.
December 20, 2017
Delanda Coleman, Microsoft senior marketing manager, explains the Teams vision and shares use case examples.
November 30, 2017
With a ruling on the FCC's proposed order to dismantle the Open Internet Order expected this month, communications technology attorney Martha Buyer walks us through what's at stake.
October 23, 2017
Wondering which Office 365 collaboration tool to use when? Get quick pointers from CBT Nuggets instructor Simona Millham.
September 22, 2017
In this podcast, we explore the future of work with Robert Brown, AVP of the Cognizant Center for the Future of Work, who helps us answer the question, "What do we do when machines do everything?"
September 8, 2017
Greg Collins, a technology analyst and strategist with Exact Ventures, delivers a status report on 5G implementation plans and tells enterprises why they shouldn't wait to move ahead on potential use ....
August 25, 2017
Find out what business considerations are driving the SIP trunking market today, and learn a bit about how satisfied enterprises are with their providers. We talk with John Malone, president of The Ea....
August 16, 2017
World Vision U.S. is finding lots of goodness in RingCentral's cloud communications service, but as Randy Boyd, infrastructure architect at the global humanitarian nonprofit, tells us, he and his team....
August 11, 2017
Alicia Gee, director of unified communications at Sutter Physician Services, oversees the technical team supporting a 1,000-agent contact center running on Genesys PureConnect. She catches us up on th....
August 4, 2017
Andrew Prokop, communications evangelist with Arrow Systems Integration, has lately been working on integrating enterprise communications into Internet of Things ecosystems. He shares examples and off....
July 27, 2017
Industry watcher Elka Popova, a Frost & Sullivan program director, shares her perspective on this acquisition, discussing Mitel's market positioning, why the move makes sense, and more.
July 14, 2017
Lantre Barr, founder and CEO of Blacc Spot Media, urges any enterprise that's been on the fence about integrating real-time communications into business workflows to jump off and get started. Tune and....
June 28, 2017
Communications expert Tsahi Levent-Levi, author of the popular blog, keeps a running tally and comprehensive overview of communications platform-as-a-service offerings in his "Choosing a W....
June 9, 2017
If you think telecom expense management applies to nothing more than business phone lines, think again. Hyoun Park, founder and principal investigator with technology advisory Amalgam Insights, tells ....
June 2, 2017
Enterprises strategizing on mobility today, including for internal collaboration, don't have the luxury of learning as they go. Tony Rizzo, enterprise mobility specialist with Blue Hill Research, expl....
May 24, 2017
Mark Winther, head of IDC's global telecom consulting practice, gives us his take on how CPaaS providers evolve beyond the basic building blocks and address maturing enterprise needs.
May 18, 2017
Diane Myers, senior research director at IHS Markit, walks us through her 2017 UC-as-a-service report... and shares what might be to come in 2018.
April 28, 2017
Change isn't easy, but it is necessary. Tune in for advice and perspective from Zeus Kerravala, co-author of a "Digital Transformation for Dummies" special edition.
April 20, 2017
Robin Gareiss, president of Nemertes Research, shares insight gleaned from the firm's 12th annual UCC Total Cost of Operations study.
March 23, 2017
Tim Banting, of Current Analysis, gives us a peek into what the next three years will bring in advance of his Enterprise Connect session exploring the question: Will there be a new model for enterpris....
March 15, 2017
Andrew Prokop, communications evangelist with Arrow Systems Integration, discusses the evolving role of the all-important session border controller.
March 9, 2017
Organizer Alan Quayle gives us the lowdown on programmable communications and all you need to know about participating in this pre-Enterprise Connect hackathon.
March 3, 2017
From protecting against new vulnerabilities to keeping security assessments up to date, security consultant Mark Collier shares tips on how best to protect your UC systems.
February 24, 2017
UC analyst Blair Pleasant sorts through the myriad cloud architectural models underlying UCaaS and CCaaS offerings, and explains why knowing the differences matter.
February 17, 2017
From the most basics of basics to the hidden gotchas, UC consultant Melissa Swartz helps demystify the complex world of SIP trunking.
February 7, 2017
UC&C consultant Kevin Kieller, a partner at enableUC, shares pointers for making the right architectural choices for your Skype for Business deployment.
February 1, 2017
Elka Popova, a Frost & Sullivan program director, shares a status report on the UCaaS market today and offers her perspective on what large enterprises need before committing to UC in the cloud.
January 26, 2017
Andrew Davis, co-founder of Wainhouse Research and chair of the Video track at Enterprise Connect 2017, sorts through the myriad cloud video service options and shares how to tell if your choice is en....
January 23, 2017
Sheila McGee-Smith, Contact Center/Customer Experience track chair for Enterprise Connect 2017, tells us what we need to know about the role cloud software is playing in contact centers today.