Podcast 47: Next Generation 911 Discussion with the FCC's Robert Kenny

The U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced that they are in a period of public discussion about what they call Next Generation 911 (NG911). Current 911 emergency calls are voice only. However, young people have been known to text emergency messages to 911 because of their familiarity and comfort with text messaging. In some cases, such as the threat of gunmen, it was probably too dangerous to speak outloud. Unfortunately, the current 911 system does not deal at all with text messages. And, these cries for help went unheard and unseen.

NG911 will enable not only emergency messages sent by text by also the ability to send other kinds of media such as photos and videos to 911 in an effort to provide more information to emergency responders. I spoke with Robert Kenny who is the Director of Media Relations for the FCC’s Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau about NG911. You can hear our converstaion in the podcast player embedded above. The podcast is also available in iTunes as the MobileViews.com Podcast.

Mr. Kenny and I had a wide ranging discussion about NG911, how it might work, and its privacy and security implications. Mr. Kenny noted that there are about 237 million 911 calls per year in the U.S. (nearly 650,000 calls per day).

You can learn more about NG911 in the December 21, 2010 notice posted to the FCC.gov website titled:

FCC Takes First Step to Help Revolutionize America’s 9-1-1 Services for Consumers, First Responders