Published: February 16, 2022
RICHMOND – The Virginia Department of Emergency Management’s 9-1-1 & Geospatial Services Bureau (NGSB) and the Virginia 9-1-1 Services Board continue to support the deployment of the Next Generation 9-1-1 (NG9-1-1) system across the Commonwealth of Virginia. Over the past four years, actions to transform Virginia’s 9-1-1 system into a digital network that is faster, more efficient, and has greater capabilities to serve Virginians have been taking place. In June 2020, Fairfax County was the first public safety answering point (PSAP) to cut over to the AT&T Emergency Services IP Network (ESINET). Today, the number of NG9-1-1 PSAPs in Virginia has increased to 25.
As described in the 2021 E9-1-1 Border Response Workgroup Report to the General Assembly, the commonwealth’s legacy 9-1-1 system was built in the 1970s and is based on decades-old technology originally built to process landline calls. As the commonwealth moves forward to evolve 9-1-1 and ensure quality service to its residents and visitors, the Virginia 9-1-1 Services Board funded the move to a Next Generation 9-1-1 (NG9-1-1) system. NG9-1-1 is based on a modern internet protocol (IP) network that securely delivers 9-1-1 calls to the appropriate 9-1-1 center faster, transfers 9-1-1 calls and associated data where needed, and interconnects with other public safety systems and databases. NG9-1-1 will also provide future capabilities to receive multimedia communications like text, photos, and videos.
The NG9-1-1 system not only upgrades outdated technology but also provides many benefits to the public when they call 9-1-1.
- More Resilient 9-1-1 Network: As more PSAPs deploy NG9-1-1, there is increased capacity for PSAPs to back one another up.
- Geospatially Routing 9-1-1 Calls: The number of 9-1-1 calls that can be geospatially routed to the correct PSAP will increase as more wireless carriers connect to the Next Generation system and provide location data with the call.
- Improved 9-1-1 Transfers: Transitioning to Next Generation 911 will not prevent the need, from time to time, to transfer 9-1-1 calls to other PSAPs. When transfers occur between NG9-1-1 PSAPs, the ability to transfer valuable voice and data together will save seconds and minutes – time that can positively impact outcomes in emergencies.
- Part of a Nationwide Modernization of 9-1-1: As Virginia continues to deploy NG9-1-1, there will be improved capabilities to transfer calls across state boundaries. Currently, Maryland, the District of Columbia, North Carolina, and Tennessee are deploying NG9-1-1 as well.
As the commonwealth moves forward in bringing the latest technologies to the residents and visitors of Virginia it is vital to modernizing our 9-1-1 system to support public safety and improve response to emergencies. Continued progress towards full NG9-1-1 deployment in the commonwealth can be followed through the Virginia NG9-1-1 Dashboard.
Additional facts about the commonwealth’s transition to NG9-1-1:
- 20% of Virginia’s PSAPs are currently NG9-1-1 PSAPs
- 43% of Virginia’s population served by NG9-1-1 PSAPs
- 14% of Virginia’s geographic area served by NG9-1-1 PSAPs
- 34% of the roughly 4 million annual 9-1-1 Calls in Virginia are going through the NG9-1-1 ESINET
- 41% of Virginia’s 9-1-1 on the AT&T ESINET were geospatially routed in January 2022 using the caller’s location to send the call to the correct PSAP.