Getting on Top of Over The Top

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Technology changes on a daily basis. It seems that every week, someone comes out with the better mousetrap that will save time, save money or improve efficiency. CIOs and technology managers are challenged not only with keeping up with today’s innovations, but understanding where their network will be 5 years out, and what the requirements of their users will be.

For those responsible of building and engineering our nation’s emergency services network, they are faced with a special challenge. If they don’t plan correctly, or if they underestimate, people’s lives become at stake. One of the challenges that technologists are faced with is the enormous change in the way we communicate with each other. The days of “calling” someone are quickly sun setting; this is backed by statements made by the Federal Communications Commission as reported in the No Jitter blog by Eric Krapf.

One point, that must be considered, is the effective handling of emergency calls. It is no great secret that today’s emergency communications network is built upon an antiquated TDM architecture that is capable of carrying voice only. And in order to provide any additional capability, a new IP network will be required as noted by Bandwidth’s Steve Leonard in his post on Light Reading. But, will it?

While certainly a new Emergency Services IP Network (ESInet) will provide intelligent connectivity between public safety agencies and the public requesting service from those agencies, we may just be able to take a giant step OVER the existing network with a technology architecture aptly called “Over the Top” (OTT).

Many of us already use an over-the-top technology today, and these services have instrumental providing access to new technologies such as VoIP for telephony services. It’s called Over The Top for a simple reason. Quite simply put, you purchase or lease a data circuit, and then deploy telephony services “over the top” of that data facility, effectively circumventing the telephone company.

New technologies like WebRTC will allow additional services to ride “on top” of OTT networks. A perfect example of this is next generation 911 services. While it’s generally accepted, according to just about anyone at the recent WebRTC III conference and Expo held in Santa Clara California last week, that OTT telephony will revolutionize the way we communicate with people we do business with and their call centers, it became quite clear to me that OTT can also revolutionize, while minimizing the time to delivery, NG 911 emergency services to existing public safety networks BEFORE NG 911 is formally deployed.

If we take a look at smart devices today, there really is no reason why they can’t utilize simultaneously the legacy 911 network, as well as the existing IP networks. This will allow callers to experience the best of both worlds, allowing calls to reach 911 centers, while additional information is pushed out Over The Top to the 911 center in a separate path. Common data correlation logic can then be utilized at emergency call centers allowing them to bridge the additional multimedia data with the voice call from the legacy network.

Starting with something as simple as telephone number correlation, moving forward to a more discreet reference such as a device Mac address will be key to linking, what are today, disparate data sources.

While the legacy 911 network was designed to associate a particular caller with pre-provisioned information in a database; Next generation 911 adds the ability for the caller to provide real-time information. The use of WebRTC is a step in the right direction as it will provide the all-important ‘data channel’ that is missing in legacy communications today.

The Avaya Podcast Network landing page for the event has some informative interviews from attendees and vendors, and can be found by clicking here.

My presentation on WebRTC and Emergency Services will be available soon.


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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