When will the UK upgrade to a next generation 999 (NG999) system?
What is the current 999 system set up?
What would a next generation 999 need?
What role if any does 999eye have in all of this?
These are just some of the questions posed by emergency service representatives, critical infrastructure experts, mobile providers & commercial ICT providers this week at the British-APCO annual event
The answers where known, came from;
- Representatives of the UK 999 liaison committee,
- British-APCO representatives
- BT 999 Product manager.
The 999 system was established in 1937 and still remains today providing a dedicated system for UK residents to quickly seek assistance in the event of an emergency.
Calls for funding next generation 999, specification, scope, plan, design and implementation have been circulating for around 10 years – this requirement is becoming more and more apparent by the changes we see in today’s social use of smartphones and case studies from around the world of interoperability and challenging incident response and disaster management, but unfortunately to date no UK government official or department has tried or been successful at pushing through a programme of improvement.
This has resulted in services looking for their own solutions to maximise the capability of smartphones, apps and social media for effective, enhanced and improved emergency response and community engagement.
key facts about 999 today;
- Seven national call centres handle around 30 million calls per year with approximately 50% being none emergency.
- The service provides voice calls, a pre register SMS system and cell location data to emergency control rooms.
- last year having worked with EE and HTC, BT 999 demonstrated the ability for the current system to also offer more accurate location GPS / Wifi data but currently this still doesn’t apply to all handsets and network providers.
- on average 60% of 999 calls are made by mobile and the vast majority are smartphone.
During the B-APCO Sessions the need for multimedia data transfer capability in the 999 infrastructure was discussed.
key developments that outline the likely future 999 system
- Developers and emergency services have commissioned a range of native smartphone apps that will need to go through an app accreditation process.
- Telematics on vehicles will see the need for the UK 999 system to receive and transfer vehicles accident location and damage reports to responsible nearest services
- West Midlands Fire Service (WMFS) have developed a web based software solution – Not an App, but an outward push system that will allow any smartphone connected and making one of the 60% of 999 calls to either;
- stream live,
- send a picture,
- send a video directly into the call centre without breaking the line,
this is not a native app but a push system that is sent by the control operator on the occasions this data will offer advantages.
So it is clear that in order to succeed, the range of proposals being developed will all need governance, policy, approved standards, funding and above all support from the mobile network providers and handset manufacturers and central government .
The next generation 999 system will need to offer a one stop location for a variety of communication software and systems to be converted into information that can be used in a standard format in control rooms in seconds.
So…………………………………………………………………….. where does 999eye fit in???
999eye will be trialled in the UK in 2015 by a collaboration of UK emergency services.
We aim to use data gathered for objective evaluation.
The collaboration will see 999eye applied by a range of services around the UK for a range of response types and will provide case studies and recommendations for central government consideration.
It will enable the smartphone callers who are prepared to or feel they need to send a stream or an image the ability to do so whilst still on the call.
We hope that 999eye will be an influencer and corner stone to some of the requirements for the next generation 999 system.