When we think of public safety, we think of law enforcement, fire departments, emergency medical services (EMS) agencies, and emergency and disaster management organizations. What we don’t often think about is how they work together and how they share information to prevent and protect us from events that could endanger our safety.
Most often, the systems in use today for sharing information are either paper-based or use verbal communications; both are slow and inefficient, and cost emergency providers precious minutes when they are racing against time to protect lives and property. The IJIS Institute and our Members are changing that paradigm by sponsoring and participating in committees and projects to implement and enhance information interoperability within the public safety community and government agencies.
The IJIS Institute has the following programs, projects, and activities that support public safety information sharing initiatives:
Text-to-911 Translation Standards
United States Census data reveals that more than 60 million people nationwide speak a language other than English. For the 28 million citizens and residents who self-identify as Limited English Proficient (LEP), contacting 911 in an emergency can be a challenge. There are a variety of federal, state, and local laws requiring that 911 be accessible and available to LEP populations, and Public Safety Answering Points (PSAPs) currently use interpreters or interpreting services to translate the telephone calls for help from LEP callers.
Text-to-911 is the ability to send a text message for help to a PSAP from a mobile device, and it is becoming more and more common across the US. There are scenarios where calling 911 is not optimal or possible, as in the case of domestic violence situations, home break-ins, mass shootings, and hostage situations, and Text-to-911 can make a true difference in the outcome of the situation. But for LEP populations and PSAPs, texts in languages other than English can present a real problem in getting help to people that need it.
The IJIS Institute is managing a Text-to-911 Translation project that includes developing, piloting, and testing a solution that will result in a standard for implementing Text-to-911 for LEP populations. The project also includes the creation of operational, business, and training protocols that will ensure a consistent, national implementation. It is anticipated that this new public safety service will enable industry, standards development organizations, PSAPs, 911 call center technology providers, and policy makers to address interoperability, technology needs, and standards to enable Text-to-911 and enhance communication between emergency service providers and LEP communities.
Incident Management Information Sharing
The IJIS Institute supported the Next Generation First Responder (NGFR) project of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate. Because first responders are the frontline of emergency response, the NGFR program was initiated to support the nation’s first responders—law enforcement, firefighters, and emergency medical personnel—in carrying out their duties.
IJIS helped identify, validate, and address first responder capability gaps using existing and emerging technology needs of first responders, and selected the Internet of Public Safety Things (IoPST) to ensure that First Responders are: Protected, Connected and Fully Aware.
A series of technology demonstrations identified areas where technology can be adapted to meet specific first responder needs. The goal was to provide insight to industry on how technology can be applied to meet operational scenarios and how industry can support future first responder requirements. To guide industry in development, design, test, and integration of responder technologies, IJIS created the Next Generation First Responder Integration Handbook, which outlines a plug-and-play, standards-based environment that enables commercially-developed technologies to integrate with existing first responder infrastructure.
The IJIS Institute also supported the White House Information Sharing and Access Interagency Policy Committee’s Incident Management Information Sharing Subcommittee (IMIS-SC). The IMIS-SC, comprised of federal, state, and local emergency management practitioners, was chartered to identify requirements to leverage new or existing information sharing standards and processes to improve data exchanges among all members of the emergency management sector.
Unified Computer Aided Dispatch (UCAD) Project
A number of technical systems are used to support law enforcement, fire, and EMS telecommunicators and responders. Yet governmental agencies that fund and guide technology standards and other key IT initiatives have rarely coordinated or aligned their efforts to maximize national adoption and cost effectiveness. Disparate technology standards and specifications across communities that have similar and, in many cases, overlapping requirements, result in unnecessary duplication of efforts, at a high cost to taxpayers.
The IJIS Institute, along with APCO International, developed Unified Computer Aided Dispatch (CAD) Functional Requirements (UCADFR). The multi-service CAD functional specification serves as a guideline to industry for the development and implementation of integrated CAD systems that are responsive to the needs of law enforcement, fire, and EMS.
The UCAD project was a follow-on to a previous project, the Public Safety Data Interoperability Program (PSDIP), managed jointly with APCO International. This project aimed at producing deliverables that focused on assisting first responders and local public safety communication centers with the goal of improving information sharing and data interoperability among and between public safety first responders. Project outcomes included the upgrade of the External Alarm Interface IEPD (from GJXDM to NIEM), the development of a Priority Exchange List for Local Communication Centers, a Guide to Information Sharing and Data Interoperability for Local Communication Centers, and laid the groundwork for the UCADFR.
The IJIS Institute has a long history of working toward public safety information interoperability, including these past accomplishments:
- Convened an Emergency Communications Task Force that developed a set of recommendations regarding the scope and prioritization of issues relevant to information sharing and standards-based interoperability for next generation and emerging emergency communications and data management technology solutions.
- Developed the Law Enforcement CAD and Records Management Systems (RMS) Functional Specifications, the precursor to the UCADFR.
- Successfully managed the Intelligent Transportation Systems/Public Safety Information Sharing Project, the goal of which was to create a methodology to facilitate and enable information sharing and data interoperability between transportation and public safety. The project involved the creation of reference data exchanges and translating messages that come from two different types of standards.
- Supported and/or developed numerous reference data exchanges (IEPDs) to support information sharing between computer aided dispatch (CAD) systems, law enforcement and jail records management systems (RMS), transportation systems, and dispatch systems.Click here for the the Information Exchange Package Documentation (IEPD) for 12 defined Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS)/Public Safety Exchanges (ZIP file).