It's official: As of yesterday, VoIP service providers in the five boroughs of New York are able to offer FCC-compliant 9-1-1 connectivity to all customers, thanks to the completion of a major deployment project undertaken by Colorado-based Intrado Inc., working with the local 9-1-1 provider, Verizon, and New York City officials.
The offering, V9-1-1 Mobility Service, entailed the creation of an implementation model for a "VoIP Positioning Center" or VPC, key component of a system that ensures seamless routing of VoIP-based 9-1-1 calls to the dedicated wire-line E9-1-1 network.
"The two fundamental deliverables for any 9-1-1 call," Intrado Marketing Communications Manager Scott Fincher told Enterprise VoIP Planet, "are the true callback phone number and accurate location information," both of which involve a lot of data management.
Even the location data is less cut and dried than one might think. According to Ashish Patel, Intrado's Manager of Emerging Products, who spearheaded the New York City project, "Intrado maintains a dedicated staff to validate address records from the Master Street Address Guide [a county-maintained document], and convert them to x/y coordinates for routing to the Intrado infrastructure ironing out the inconsistencies that occur between records in different jurisdictions."
The Intrado infrastructure then handles the task of sending the call and the data to the appropriate public safety answering point (PSAP), via "native" connectivity to the local 9-1-1 selective router.
Another function of V9-1-1 Mobility Service is ironing out the inconsistencies in the way VoIP Service Providers handle VoIP protocols. "You have to be able to handle input from all providers," Fincher pointed out.
With the New York deployment under its belt, Intrado is looking to expand V9-1-1 Mobility Service availability nationwide. "Plans call for covering the top 20 metropolitan areas by the third quarter," Patel said. "That's about 50 percent of the total population."
Intrado has long been one of the two principal core providers of 9-1-1 service (the other being TeleCommunications Systems). Looking farther ahead, both Fincher and Patel agree that the evolution of 9-1-1 coverage will be shaped by the increasing use of mobile phones (the cellular 9-1-1 network is essentially a separate system from the wireline network), which will require some way of establishing physical locations coordinates and associating those with street address information.