Newcomers to U.S. 911 space cite advantages of cloud use for PSAPs
LAS VEGAS—Cloud-based approaches to call-handling and computer-aided dispatch (CAD) can provide public-safety answering points (PSAPs) with immediate functionality benefits today and an affordable path to make a smooth transition to an IP-based next-generation 911 infrastructure, leaders of two companies that are relatively new to the U.S. market said during a session at APCO 2018.
“I would argue that there are two kinds of PSAPs in the U.S.: Those that are in the cloud, and those that are going to be in the cloud,” RapidDeploy CEO Steve Raucher said during the Sunday session. “It’s not [a question of] ‘if,’ it’s “when.’”
“The cloud is the great enabler for next-generation 911. It has the following native benefits: high availability, geo-diverse resilience, best-of-breed cybersecurity, hyper scalability and redundancy, and affordability, with zero upfront capital investment.”
Eyal Elyashiv, COO for Carbyne, echoed this sentiment, noting that the cloud is “where all the heavy lifting is being done” in the company’s call-handling solution, which lets a call center receive highly accurate location information from callers, conduct two-way text conversations with the caller, and stream video from the caller’s cell phone, if desired.
While these capabilities typically have been associated with next-generation 911, PSAPs can implement this functionality today with Carbyne’s c-Lite offering, Elyashiv said.
“This is basically a tool that can turn any PSAP with a legacy system into a next-generation-enabled PSAP,” Elyashiv said. “Why do we call it Lite? Because it requires no integration. It is does not affect the operation flow of the PSAP, and—pretty fast—you can introduce next-generation capabilities to your PSAP.
“Again, this does not change the way your PSAP operates today. It just introduces complementary features to your existing call-handling platform.”
When a PSAP makes the transition to an IP-based NG911 platform, the Carbyne solution will perform even better, Elyashiv said.
“ESInet, for us, is like water—we want an ESInet,” he said. “We will maximize our capabilities using ESInet. We’re an IP-based solution, so our data transports over an IP in a most-efficient way.
“Today, in order to handle calls, we need to dumb down our system, because we still need to connect to CAMA trunk that come into some PSAPs. With ESInet, we’ll be able to route based on IP, based on the device location, to the right PSAP.”
RapidDeploy provides a cloud-based CAD solution that utilizes the Microsoft Azure Government Cloud to deliver greater situational awareness to PSAPs by leveraging information from existing resources, Raucher said.
“We are not here to reinvent the wheel,” Raucher said. “We do not set your to build new technology where there is an established solution we can integrate with. There is no point in us spending time trying to build a [satellite-based navigation] app when we can integrate with Apple Maps and Waze.
“This allows us to build our platform using the best solution from every sphere, be it mapping, weather, traffic, CCTV and artificial intelligence.”
This cloud-based approach allows CAD installation to be quicker than a traditional approach—without the need for large capital expenditures—and can enable a smooth transition for the PSAP, Raucher said.
“We can stand up our solution side-by-side with your existing solution, so they can actually operate in real time and compare the work flows and see the benefit,” he said.
“Again, that’s the power of the cloud. We’re not wheeling in 15 racks of servers to do that.”
Raucher said RapidDeploy—which announced an agreement with AT&T yesterday—has been focusing more on the U.S. after attending last year’s NENA event and determining that existing CAD systems use technology that is “at least 10 years old. Current CAD vendors do not innovate, because current solutions are “super sticky,” he said.
“As you guys know, your  procurement cycles are very long, it’s incredibly hard to change—from a financial point of view, a purchase-cycle point of view, and the capacity of change, with all of the moving parts,” he said. “Obviously, the vendor community is aware of that, and they’ve paid you back by spending more money on their booths in the conference hall than they have in R&D.
“Shame on them. We’re here to stay, and we’re going to eat their lunch.”