A new development for Public Safety Answering Points (PSAPs) has surfaced and, with it, an important mandate.  As more and more Legacy systems are upgraded to Next Generation an influx of innovative solutions have entered the marketplace.  Some designed for PSAPs, others for the general public—but few share the same timeline of implementation.  Such is the case with Real-Time Text (RTT).

The occurrence of silent, open-line calls (commonly referred to as “pocket dials”) may, in fact, be RTT calls.  And the frequency of such calls may likely increase.

Cellular providers have developed innovative solutions to enhance overall communication and 9-1-1 accessibility.  However, these advancements have unintentionally contributed to the existing issue in a few key ways:

  • RTT is now available on many new editions of mobile devices—with availability increasing each year. Although exciting, this feature has become hand-held faster than PSAPs can support the messages.
  • Currently, if an RTT call were made to a PSAP without RTT capabilities, the cellular provider technology converts the correspondence to a Text Telephone (TTY) call. But, within that process, the cellular providers are not guaranteed to include the TTY tones component of the call.  Thus, RTT calls can arrive to a PSAP in the same fashion as a silent, open-line call.

It is important to note that the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) has mandated a specific protocol to handling silent, open line calls at the PSAP level:

“The only way for PSAPs to properly identify all TTY calls is for call takers to recognize TTY tones and query every silent, open-line calls with a TTY to determine if it is a TTY call after it has been queried by voice.”[1]

This process also referred to as “challenging calls” and serves as the go-to call verification process.

All that in mind, the time for PSAPs to implement an RTT solution has arrived.  With RTT serving as the most inclusive solution for text communication with 9-1-1, a sure-fire way to accommodate that level of correspondence is to outfit the PSAPs with equipment that brings RTT to the forefront without compromising other key Legacy or Next Generation core services.

A solution of this sort exists in the MEVO(+), and is ready for implementation today.  Read more about this solution HERE.

As RTT availability and use grows, so with it comes the necessity of accommodating such calls in an efficient manner.  The goal of NG 9-1-1 is to make 9-1-1 functional with all forms of communication.  RTT has arrived, and so have the innovative solutions.

[1] Source:  Department of Justice via ada.gov/911ta.htm