The Future of Emergency Communications

The future holds great promise for public safety communications for communities and telecommunicators across the country to benefit from seamlessly interoperable Next Generation 9-1-1 services. Fully interconnected vehicle and patient sensors, cognitive systems in the PSAP, FirstNet-based broadband services to the responders, and the availability of almost any needed service at the touch of a button are possible.

APCO is working in these important areas to achieve that vision:

Increasing Awareness of the Protective Role Performed by Public Safety Telecommunicators (PSTs)

As communication methods evolve, the skill and professionalism of PSTs will remain constant, serving as a lifeline for members of the public and first responders. Yet PSTs are usually acting behind the scenes. APCO seeks to make the general public and policy-makers at all levels more aware of the life-saving role PSTs play.

The Changing PSAP

No longer just an “answering point,” the PSAP of tomorrow is an emergency communications hub, a tactical intelligence center, and a unified command and control entity for all responding agencies and personnel.

A Shared Vision of NG9-1-1

There needs to be a common understanding of Next Generation 9-1-1 as a secure, nationwide, interoperable, standards-based, all-IP emergency communications infrastructure enabling end-to-end transmission of all types of data, including voice and multimedia communications from the public to an Emergency Communications Center.


When Next Generation 9-1-1 and FirstNet are fully deployed throughout the country, the PSAP’s role as the nerve center of a broader emergency response ecosystem will be even more critical than it is today: receiving data and multimedia content from the public and exchanging broadband-rich content with field responders via the dedicated FirstNet wireless public safety broadband network.

Interoperability and Standards

Standards are critical, and the public safety community needs mechanisms to ensure that NG9-1-1 systems are interoperable, both when they are deployed and on an ongoing basis.


Internet technology brings powerful tools to the public safety sector, but also creates vulnerabilities. As the industry moves to NG9-1-1 and broadband, cybersecurity – and the possibility of cyberattacks, becomes a critical concern and responsibility for the PSAP.

 The Need for Federal Action to Support 9-1-1

Dependable and lifesaving, today’s 9-1-1 system is essentially still based on 1960’s and 70’s technology. The wireless communications options available today to the average consumer vastly exceed what’s available at 9-1-1 centers and create a disconnect between what the public expects and what PSAPs can provide – or afford.  This is why Congress should establish a substantial grant program to modernize 9-1-1 services across the country as a national imperative.