National Emergency Number Association President Bill McMurray, speaking last month at the 2005 VoIP: Telephony conference, predicted that the FCC's order requiring voice-over-IP providers to offer the same enhanced 911 services made available by wireline and wireless carriers ultimately would result in new technologies that improve the performance of public-safety answering points (PSAPs) and first responders in the field.

PSAPs are eager to leverage the advantages of an IP-backbone infrastructure, which would make possible a plethora of advanced applications, including advanced crash-notification data, real-time surveillance video and text messages from emergency medical technicians at an accident site.

McMurray believes these capabilities, in time, will be enabled by technologies spawned as a result of equipment and systems developed by VoIP vendors required to meet the FCC's mandate.

“Therein lies our pathway to our future network design,” he said. “The solutions you develop for the nomadic consumer will present needed solutions for a myriad of other problems.”

McMurray added that PSAPs and VoIP vendors could learn a lot from each other and urged vendors to begin a dialogue with NENA. He said PSAPs need an “intensive training program” regarding IP-related issues and that NENA wants to train the telecommunications industry on what PSAPs need in terms of IP-based capabilities to facilitate the development of PSAP-friendly systems.

“We need to learn from you, and you need to learn from us,” he said.