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There have been major shifts in communications technology since King County's Enhanced 9-1-1 (E-911) system was implemented in 1985. At that time, the only form of telecommunications was the landline phone, and the E-911 system was designed for its use. The first 9-1-1 calls from wireless phones were received in 1988. Since then, wireless phones have grown to become the most popular communications tool, and now account for 75% of 9-1-1 calls. In addition, these devices are no longer just used for voice phone calls. Text messaging, and sending pictures and videos, has now become a common form of communication. This is also true for the deaf and hard of hearing communities. Another new method of placing phone calls is Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), also known as internet or broadband phone service, which has significantly increased in the past few years. Automatic Collision Notification Systems (AACN), such as OnStar, have become popular in vehicles, and by 2013, all new vehicle models in the U.S. will be equipped with telematics. The public expectation is that all of these various types of devices should be able to call 9-1-1 and interface to the E-911 system.

In response to this trend, national 9-1-1 associations and other national standards bodies have been working to develop advancements in E-911 systems to ensure that 9-1-1 service is available to users of these new technologies. The advanced 9-1-1 service is called "Next Generation 911," or NG911.

King County has been upgrading the E-911 system with NG911 technology since 2005, including:

  • 2005-2006: Upgrade of the E-911 Automatic Location Information Database System. King County was the first E-911 system in the nation with the advanced database structure needed for NG911.
  • 2005-2007: Upgrades to the E-911 mapping system used to locate 9-1-1 callers. This included adding the latitude/longitude of all addresses in King County to the mapping system, and the addition of 3-D orthophotography imagery countywide.
  • 2008-2009: The E-911 backroom equipment on which the 9-1-1 trunks terminate was upgraded to interface to an IP 9-1-1 network.
  • 2008: King County was one of five 9-1-1 centers nationwide that was selected to participate in a U.S. Department of Transportation NG911 Proof of Concept demonstration.
  • 2009-current: The addresses in the E-911 Automatic Location Information Database are synchronized with the GIS Address data.
  • 2009: E-911 funds a CAD GIS and IP System Specialist in all Public Safety Answering Points (PSAPs) in preparation for additional NG911 work.
  • 2011: All King County PSAPs were connected to a statewide Emergency Services Internet Protocol Network (ESInet).
  • 2011: GIS data in the PSAP Mapping System is updated at the PSAPs through the PSAP Data Network.
  • 2011-2012: E-911 equipment upgrade* at all PSAPs to have the capability to handle text‑to‑911. *This upgrade is equipment only. Text-to-911 is not yet available in King County.
  • 2012-2013: Smart911 service implemented at all PSAPs. Displays resident-entered home, apartment unit, work and room number, and school addresses, which can be associated with wireless latitude/longitude locations.
  • 2012-2013: Project to test all components of full NG911 functionality in King County's portion of the ESInet and at the Test PSAP. Includes testing of the wireless carriers' interim text-to-911 solutions.
  • 2012-2013: Advanced Automatic Collision Notification (AACN) pilot project with Harborview Medical Center and King County Emergency Medical Services. Delivery of AACN data through ESInet to E-911 equipment at Test PSAP.

The national standards for the NG911 system are still being finalized. King County is working to ensure that we will be ready to implement this service when the standards are complete and the equipment vendors have upgraded their systems to these standards. Once the NG911 system has been fully implemented, the various modern communications technologies that could be used to access 9-1-1 to report emergencies, such as text, pictures, and video from wireless phones, VoIP, and AACN, will be possible.

Please use 9-1-1 responsibly. Call only if you need an emergency response from police, fire, or medics.
For non-emergencies, call your local police or fire department or other appropriate agency.

206-477-4910
CALL 9-1-1 IN AN EMERGENCY

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