Don Ferguson, Founder & CEO
Is 9-1-1 compatible with individual emergencies? It’s something one would not think to ask—but the struggle to modernize 9-1-1 in the US is a real one. For half a century, 9-1-1 has been an important part of American culture. According to the National Emergency Number Association, an estimated 240 million people dial 9-1-1 every year, some 80 percent of them calling from wireless devices. This presents a problem the 9-1-1 infrastructure may not be able to tackle in its current state.
The fact of the matter is, 9-1-1 started as a technology from another time, from an era of rotary and touch-tone handset phones, devices many modern Americans would likely not even recognize. Of course, the service 9-1-1 was created to provide is not likely to become as obsolete—at least not so long as there are still crisis situations, accidents, and emergencies. It was because of this that Don Ferguson, founder and CEO of NGA 911, set out to modernize and upgrade 9-1-1.
Next Generation Advanced 911 (or NGA 911, for short) allows callers to reach 9-1-1 through SMS, instant messaging (IM), and video calls, which represents a significant step forward in emergency response technology. With NGA 911, not only can callers get help no matter how they dial 9-1-1, these days, speech-impaired callers can also get emergency aid.
Although technology has evolved with time, 9-1-1 agencies are still running legacy systems... which are incompatible with today’s mobile devices.
NGA 911 offers support for video calling, instant messaging, wearables, pedometers, gyroscopes, and more. These connected devices can provide first responders with a wealth of information, situation reports, vital signs, medical histories, and other critical details. This is information which dramatically increases the ability of emergency services to save as many lives as possible.
Budget has always been one of the biggest hurdles that keep EMS agencies from making serious upgrades—something which Ferguson is more than well aware of. To help solve this problem, Ferguson explains that agencies can choose to deploy NGA 911 on an incremental basis. This option is not only different—it eliminates the need for a restrictively expensive infrastructural overhaul.
Already providing next level emergency response in the U.S., NGA 911’s vision is global in scope. Ferguson already has plans to introduce advanced video routing and telematics in Central America, South America, and Europe.
The best part? No need to learn a new number. As the technology grows, 9-1-1 can now grow with it—in a way that creates easier connections for the caller and ultimately, saves lives.