The Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials (APCO), in conjunction with The Consultant Registry and Georgia Public Safety Training Center (GPSTC), has tested how background sounds—which are important to 911 call-takers—are transmitted over voice-over-Internet Protocol (VoIP) systems. The test results will be presented at APCO’s Winter Summit in Orlando on February 1.

Because VoIP systems do not process 911 calls in the same manner as traditional telephony systems, the nascent technology poses potential problems for call-takers, according to APCO.

The test was conducted in an office and included sounds such as normal human speech, gunfire, and residential fire alarms. Three simultaneous calls were placed to the Monroe County (Ga.) public-safety answering point (PSAP) via a traditional telephone, a wireless phone, and a VoIP phone using a widely available commercial VoIP service, APCO said. All three calls were recorded at the PSAP using standard equipment.