Chances are that the ways you communicate with your family, friends, coworkers, and clients are completely different than the ways you communicated with them 10 years ago, five years ago, or maybe even just one year ago. Text messages, digital picture messages, videos, and social media are all becoming increasingly important methods of communication in day-to-day life. If you think these emerging modes of technology can create new learning curves in our personal lives, imagine their effect on Public Safety Answer Points (PSAPs).

Most PSAPs are not set up to receive and respond to text messages, videos, digital pictures, and instant messaging — yet.


Before PSAPs can ready themselves to work with these forms of modern communication, often referred to as Next Generation 9-1-1 or NG9-1-1 they will need to make some complex changes. These changes may include overhauling their current equipment such as networks and data storing and receiving systems, training new personnel, and finding funding needed for these new projects. All of these changes must be compatible with national NG9-1-1 standards, which are currently being developed by associations like the National Emergency Number Association (NENA).

Spillman is dedicated to helping get comprehensive standards in place as quickly as possible and taking steps to adapt current products that will utilize NG9-1-1 technology. We are working on improving GIS integration and making necessary schema changes in support of emerging standards. For example, Spillman has implemented Internet Protocol support into our software, which allows agencies with IP phone systems to more reliably import 9-1-1 data like the caller’s name, address, and phone number into their Spillman systems. Eventually, having this IP support in place will aid agencies when they also begin to receive emergency requests via texts, instant messages, and videos.

Spillman is also involved in PSAP and Emergency Information Data Document (EIDD) committees. By being active in these national committees, we are helping to shape the policies and standards that will affect our customers for years. The resulting EIDD document, scheduled for release later this year, will solidify guidelines and standards for vendors. Once standards are set, Spillman can make additional product improvements with the knowledge the changes we make will comply with national guidelines.

As we look toward the future for PSAPs and the technology changes we expect to see, it is important to remember that as of right now, not all standards have been established. While many agencies are eager to implement NG9-1-1, investing in technology that might not become compatible with technologies of the future could be a costly mistake. Spillman’s role in helping to define NG9-1-1 standards will enable agencies to take advantage of new communication technologies, while ensuring that the products they are investing in will serve them for decades to come.