Internet Video In FCC ’s ‘Next Generation 9-1-1’ Data Collection

The public can obtain emergency assistance by means of advanced communications technologies beyond traditional voice-centric devices.
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The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has issued a “notice of inquiry” (NOI) asking how to address the “next generation 9-1-1” (NG 9-1-1) so the public can obtain emergency assistance by means of advanced communications technologies beyond traditional voice-centric devices, including video sent over the Internet.

The NOI—Framework for Next Generation 9-1-1 Deployment—was posted on the Federal Register on Jan. 13, 2011, and it “seeks to gain a better understanding of how the gap between the capabilities of modern networks and devices and today’s 9-1-1 system can be bridged.” It also seeks comment “on how to further the transition to IP-based communications capabilities for emergency communications and NG 9-1-1.”

In the telecommunications industry overall, competitive forces and technological innovation have ushered in an era of advanced IP-based devices and applications that have vastly enhanced the ability of the public to communicate and send and receive information, the NOI says. However, at the same time, the current “legacy circuit-switched 911 system is unable to accommodate the capabilities embedded in many of these advanced technologies, such as the ability to transmit and receive photos, text messages, and video,” it says. The NOI seeks “to gain a better understanding of how the gap between the capabilities of modern networks and devices and today’s 911 system can be bridged.” It also wants comment on how to further the transition to IP-based communications capabilities for emergency communications and NG 9-1-1.

The NOI list at least six types of “capabilities and applications”—including “real-time video” and “still Images (photos)”—that are likely to be transmitted in the NG 9-1-1 system, and it requests comment “on each of the elements as a component of NG 9-1-1.” The NOI asks questions, including:

  • If there are core elements that should be part of every NG 9-1-1 system and standardized across all NG 9-1-1 deployments?
  • Are there non-core elements that could be part of NG 9-1-1, but are optional or can be varied locally?
  • How will those elements (both core and non-core) be affected by future technological change?


Of “real-time video,” the NOI defines it as live video that might be captured by a webcam, a camera built into a mobile phone, a networked security camera, or another video-capable device. The live nature of real-time video distinguishes it from streaming video, which is typically used for watching entertainment content. “Real-time video will help first responders better gauge the scope and nature of an incident and will also help determine a caller’s precise location,” the NOI says.

Of still images (photos), the NOI defines those images as being captured by a digital camera, typically encoded into a compressed file format, such as JPEG, and made available as a single data file. Still images can help 9-1-1 call takers and first responders assess the severity of an incident or apprehend a criminal suspect.

The other areas the FCC wants comment on are “message-based text;” “real-time text;” “telemetry data;” “auxiliary medical and other personal data,” the NOI says. “We also seek comment on the degree to which each of the media types discussed above will be used as a primary versus a secondary form of communication on NG911 networks,” it says.

The Deadline for comments is Feb. 28, 2011. Comments can be filed electronically by using the Internet by accessing the ECFS or the Federal eRulemaking Portal.

Parties who choose to file by paper must file an original and four copies of each filing. If more than one docket or rulemaking number appears in the NOI, filers must submit two additional copies for each additional docket or rulemaking number.

Comments can be sent by hand or messenger delivery, by commercial overnight courier, or by first-class or overnight U.S. Postal Service mail. All filings must be addressed to the Commission’s Secretary, Office of the Secretary, Federal Communications Commission.

All hand-delivered or messenger-delivered paper filings for the Commission's Secretary must be delivered to FCC Headquarters at 445 12th St., SW., Room TW-A325, Washington, D.C. 20554. The filing hours are from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. All hand deliveries must be held together with rubber bands or fasteners, and any envelopes must be disposed of before entering the building.

Commercial sent by overnight mail (other than U.S. Postal Service Express Mail and Priority Mail) must be sent to 9300 East Hampton Drive, Capitol Heights, Md. 20743.

Comments sent by the U.S. Postal Service first-class, Express and Priority mail must be addressed to 445 12th Street, SW., Washington, D.C. 20554.

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