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NENA Bulletin on Improving the Effectiveness of Wireless 9-1-1 Call Processing

Tuesday, June 7, 2016   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Chris Nussman
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In response to several recent high profile tragedies involving 9-1-1 calls placed from wireless devices, the National Emergency Number Association is issuing this bulletin to all primary and secondary Public Safety Answering Points in the United States. Our intent is to identify actions which each agency can take in the short term to improve effectiveness in processing wireless 9-1-1 calls.

As a reminder, existing NENA guidance on this issue can be located at the NENA website. For further information, please contact either Roger Hixson, Technical Director, or Christopher Carver, PSAP Operations Director.

Click here to download a copy of the bulletin. The full text is below.


1. All PSAPs are urged to retrain all personnel regarding the proper procedures for handling "out-of jurisdiction” 9-1-1 calls, including the location of contact information for the appropriate PSAP; the identities of nearby jurisdiction and community names; and use of the NENA PSAP Registry—a free online resource for the use of PSAPs attempting to contact other PSAPs due to emergency events. NOTE: Registration is required to use this service and all PSAPs should ensure they have completed the registration process.

2. PSAPs are reminded that the nature of wireless calls results in the PSAP service area often being different for wireless than landline calls. This is due to many factors—from technology, to policy, to geography. This issue should be a focus in the training process, both new-hire and ongoing, particularly when there are frequent issues related to one geographic area or other recurring challenges related to wireless calls.

3. PSAPs should ensure that all personnel are provided regular recurrent training on how to handle wireless calls, including "re-bid” procedures; confidence and uncertainty; and the correct process to identify the proper jurisdiction based on the transmitted ani-ali information and re-bid, as well as enter and obtain locations using X/Y coordinates. Emphasis should be given to using actual events in your center for training purposes, as these will highlight issues that will likely be more relevant to your personnel. All 9-1-1 Personnel should be aware that wireless location confidence is now set at 90% nationally, a critical tool when determining caller location, particularly for silent calls or incidents where the caller is unable to provide their location.

4. All PSAP personnel should be trained on how to locate addresses and locations in the event that the computer based mapping system is unable to function, or unable to provide an accurate location. Techniques may include: using google to determine a business location; using landmarks and common-places as an initial address; consulting with fellow dispatchers working in the center to ascertain a location; or a variety of other traditional methods to obtain the proper location to send responders.


1. All PSAPs designated and capable of receiving wireless 9-1-1 calls should review and update as necessary the routing maps for cell-phone towers in their region, ensuring that the routing rules are up-to-date and as accurate as possible, reflecting development and population trends as well as PSAP consolidations and service area changes.

2. All PSAPs should work with their dispatch personnel to identify common place name locations both inside and outside of their service area for which calls are frequently received and include correct procedures on processing calls for these locations in their training programs.


1. All PSAPs using "street-centerline” mapping should work with their GIS/Mapping provider to ensure that their mapping capabilities do not terminate at their agency border. Calls from nearby, but outside their jurisdiction, should be able to be "plotted” along with an indication of the proper agency to notify for emergencies in that respective area.

2. All PSAPs should ensure they communicate regularly with their GIS provider, whether that provider is part of the Dispatch Agency or part of a separate entity. In addition, NENA strongly encourages PSAPs to have their GIS personnel "ride-along” in the Center to witness first-hand Dispatch Operations and the challenges and opportunities of GIS in 9-1-1.

3. All PSAPs should have regular communication with their CAD vendor to ensure they are aware of the processes and procedures to update the mapping services provided by their CAD and to address known issues. All PSAPs should have a formalized process for Dispatch Personnel to report GIS/Mapping issues and to ensure solutions to those issues are developed, tested, and implemented in a timely manner.

The National Emergency Number Association and other organizations and industry associations, along with the FCC and our vendor partners continue to work towards technology solutions to many of the challenges faced by the 9-1-1 community.

No matter what these future solutions may bring, however, it is imperative that anyone be able to access the 9-1-1 system from any device at any-time anywhere—and that the PSAP provide the best possible service to the person seeking help.

Fortunately, the women and men responsible for answering the two-hundred-forty million 9-1-1 calls made in the US each year do so with consistent professionalism and skill, helping to save countless lives.

It is our belief that by taking these immediate steps, PSAPs will help further that success and address at least some of the inherent challenges of wireless 9-1-1 calls as we work towards long term permanent solutions.