NSFW? The Gooey side of E911

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There is a new breed of architect that is becoming more and more popular in the application world. Conceptually, they understand networking, data, and even voice applications. Although their work fosters innovation at the root level of development, these folks situate themselves far above the clatter and din and provide direction and guidance on the overall User eXperience, and have evolved into what the world is calling a UX architect.

Ultimately, what will make or break an application is the GUI or Graphical User Interface that the end-user must interface with to use that application. Over the years in technology we have moved centralized computing from the back room data center to the desktop, but a much more tangible and relevant revolution was the move from a “green screen” environment, to Windows or Apple iOS.

When you look back at the applications that were used, such as word processing for example, the software I initially learned was WordStar on a CPM 80 operating system. There was a command key shortcut for everything, and even today many of those shortcuts have almost become a verb in our language such as “Ctrl-C” and “Ctrl-V.” When I want to make something bold, I highlighted and hit ” Ctrl-B.” Looking at that as an example, the functionality was always there in the software, what Windows or Apple iOS brought to the table was the GUI, or the ability to use a mouse to double-click, highlight and select the segment of text that I wanted to work with.

Legacy_ALI_Display.jpgWhen I look at public safety applications, as they are in use today, I find an incredible similarity to the Corporate Enterprise evolution that has occurred over the last 20 years. For various reasons, public safety has lagged in technology regardless of the fact that newer technology is available, and the “customer”, a.k.a. the general public, has moved forward using that new technology.

When I look at the presentation of E911 location information in the enterprise, as well as the public safety side, I’m just shocked at the antiquated, rudimentary information that is displayed, in addition to the way it is displayed. At best, we have taken the information that was defined over three decades ago, and presented that information, in its original form, on a modern communications GUI. Looking at how applications present that information, must make the skin crawl on today’s UX Architects.

Becoming more aware of the UX importance was something that I picked up from industry influencer @DwayneSamuels who touts himself as a Tech Entrepreneur, Developer, Prime Minister’s Youth Awardee, YouTube Partner, Co-Founder of ?@Xormis? & ?@Grikly?, Optimist, Changing 1% of the Universe on his Twitter feed and his Jamaica based company dwaynesamuels.com.

After meeting and interviewing Duane at Avaya Evolutions Kingston, I got to thinking more and more about the UX in public safety applications. As a direct result of that influence, this mockup of a 911 dispatcher GUI was included in some of our patent applications that described how additional data would be correlated and then presented to the 911 call taker.

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In addition to making all of this new data available directly to 911 PSAP and control rooms, since this data already resides in the enterprise network, it is only logical to start looking for applications that utilize this data, correlated with other relevant data from other sources, and then present local on-site first responders with information that is usable and actionable.

In the enterprise environment, if you are relying on the inherent on-site notification functionality to a telephone display, the limited display functionality of a telephone device does not make for a good GUI. This is where you need to think beyond the sales slick, and look at the operational functionality or “User Experience” at a much higher level, and decide if your enterprise E911 application is actually SFW or “safe for work.”

Although the enterprise applications today still utilize the basic information provided by the PBX (name and extension number). What about a user that has multiple bridged appearances within the same facility or within multiple facilities across the campus? Wouldn’t it be more logical to display a floor plan indicating the location of the device that made the 911 calls?

This all goes back to the logic that used to be valid. That logic was “phone numbers equal locations.” But in today’s highly nomadic and mobile corporate enterprise voice infrastructure, Avaya, as well as every single one of our competitor companies, are spending tens of millions of dollars each and every year in research and development geared towards making telephone numbers NOT equal locations. Providing a ubiquitously mobile work environment, and the communications capabilities that go along with it.

We all know what Next Generation 911 is going to look like at a level sufficient enough to start developing towards and be in alignment with the ratified NENA i3 architecture. RFAI, although a standard that is compliant with NENA i3 is in reality the same data that we are getting today, just delivered over an IP infrastructure which does not automatically make that data NENA i3 architecturally.

The moral to this blog is to closely pay attention to applications in public safety and their use of a modern and efficient User Experience GUI, and not just one that presents archaic data in its legacy format inside of a new window on your existing desktop.


Want more Technology, News and Information from Avaya? Be sure to check out the Avaya Podcast Network landing page at http://avaya.com/APN . There you will find additional Podcasts from Industry Events such as Avaya Evolutions and INTEROP, as well as other informative series by the APN Staff.

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Thanks for stopping by and reading the Avaya CONNECTED Blog on E9-1-1, I value your opinions, so please feel free to comment below or if you prefer, you can email me privately.

Public comments, suggestions, corrections and loose change is all graciously accepted 😉
Until next week. . . dial carefully.

Be sure to follow me on Twitter @Fletch911

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