Emergency Communications Community

Emerging Challenges

Emergency communications ranges from the ability of the public to request emergency services, to the processing of those requests, and ultimately emergency response and the need for responders to effectively communicate.  The complexities of emerging communication technologies will present new operational and security challenges. Similarly, transitioning to interoperable networks, as well as inter-disciplined and inter-agency coordination and information sharing presents complex interface requirements.  Much operational and standards work is being accomplished by a variety of organizations on the next generation of 9-1-1 (NG9-1-1), along with the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) on ensuring interoperable responder communications in the context of this technology.

Further, to fully utilize new communication systems, a key challenge will be to transparently integrate these new networks in a way that seamlessly supports the communication needs of the public, along with transportation services and first responders.  The goal for the TSAG is to harness new technologies permitting public safety providers to fully utilize valuable life-saving information, while also meeting public privacy and security expectations.

As evolving technologies advance, public safety and transportation systems managers welcome the opportunity to protect first responders while improving emergency response.

Emergency communications, within the scope of transportation operations and related public safety services, involves various communication mediums. Whether transmitting voice, text, video or other forms of data (i.e., through roadway or automobile sensors), a reliable and secure communications infrastructure is essential to maintaining and improving transportation operations and public safety services.

Thus, as incidents are identified and required emergency services dispatched, communication mediums aid in defining the extent and circumstances at the incident scene. Through interoperability, these communications serve to manage responder actions and multi-agency coordination of life-saving services.

TSAG collectively promotes advanced communications technologies to support the safe, efficient and effective operation of our nation’s transportation systems. Development of advanced communication technologies help support the foremost goals of emergencies communication systems including:

  • Ensuring that public requests for emergency services is effectively translated into effective emergency response and incident management
  • Coordinated response capabilities of transportation, law enforcement, and first responders involved in critical incident response
  • Integration of public safety and transportation operations communication networks
  • Secure and real time access and sharing of public safety information from national, state, or local databases
  • Communication networks that promote interoperability through innovative communications technologies

Ultimately, the goal of transportation operation communications is to predict incidence risks, prevent life-threatening events, while the focus of emergency communications is to correctly identify, respond, and manage incidents.


Emergency Communications

Emerging Opportunities

Response time to an emergency is critical to all life-saving activity; therefore, reducing response time is a vital link in the chain of victim survival. The integration of new interoperable communications technologies can help improve response and treatment-time during emergencies. Improved response coordination is especially critical during catastrophic events. Advancements in communication technologies offer real opportunities, not only to save lives, but also to help to mitigate the outcomes of such events.

Specific principles essential to effective emergency operations are intended to explore opportunities to enhance and improve primary and secondary responder coordination including:

  • Effective 9-1-1 services
  • Centralized communications to support clear lines of command and control
  • Effective interoperable communications among first responder agencies and transportation operations services
  • National standards for managing transportation incidents of all types
  • Development of public policy that defines access authority and priority for emergency communications
  • Interface of Computer Aided Dispatch systems with transportation-operation networks
  • Deployment of next generation technologies