DENVER—Public-safety answering points (PSAPs) using the VESTA 911 platform from Airbus DS Communications soon will be able to receive short-message-service (SMS) emergency text messages via a new offering that is integrated into the 911 system, according to Airbus DS Communications CEO Bob Freinberg.

While a growing number of PSAPs are able to receive text-to-911 messages, many of the them utilize browser-based, over-the-top applications that are separate from the 911 network, Freinberg said. In contrast, the new VESTA text-to-911 solution is integrated into the 911 system based on i3 standards established by the National Emergency Number Association (NENA), he said.

“That’s a big deal, because, with that happening, we anticipate a heck of a lot of customers finally being able to handle SMS in the way that I think most envisioned,” Freinberg said during an interview with IWCE’s Urgent Communications. “It’s a request for service that is no different in the way that TTY and no different than the way that voice is handled today.

“SMS is native inside of VESTA 911, so information will be archived. Calls come in, and they would pop up on a map, as you would expect a wireless call to do. Information is archived no differently than it would be for a standard 911 call. It would be tiered as it comes in, as well, so that you can have specific operators handle it.”

Airbus DS Communications has been developing the text-to-911 capability for a couple of years and has conducted successful beta tests with the Brazos County County of Governments (BVCOG) 911 system in southeast Texas, Freinberg said. The VESTA SMS release is expected to be commercially available in the early fall, he said.

During the past two years, Airbus DS Communications has sold its VESTA 911 package to about 1,000 PSAPs with a total of almost 7,000 call positions, Freinberg said. With the availability of this new SMS release, Freinberg said he expects the number of text-enabled PSAPs in the country will increase quickly.

“Most of these 1,000 PSAPs—plus new customers—are going to want to be handling text in this fashion,” Freinberg said. “It is an exciting time and it’s a big goal for the industry, but it is something that we are now prepared to help the industry and our customers mainstream SMS in as a professional, integrated and operationally efficient manner as can be done.

“Once council of governments, home-rule cities and [911] districts get it, they’re all going to want to get it. The marketing efforts and the publicity around the success of it will start creating demand.”

Airbus DS Communications will showcase the new text-to-911 capability in Booth 600 of the NENA 2015 Conference & Expo exhibit hall, which opens today. Other new offerings being showcased include the new VESTA Map product and significant upgrades to the VESTA Analytics solution.