Wednesday, May 03, 2006

First VoIP E911 Call-Handling Solution in Texas Implemented by Galveston County Emergency Communication District

GALVESTON, Texas, /PRNewswire/ -- The Galveston County Emergency Communication District (GCECD) recently implemented the first IP-enabled Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP) in the state of Texas. All eight PSAPs and the 21 dispatchers in the GCECD service area, along with the La Marque Police Department, the Galveston Police Department and Galveston County Sheriff Department, are utilizing the new IP-enabled Enhanced 911 call- handling solution, which brings a variety of benefits, including integration with Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), automatic crash notification, on- demand conferencing, group paging capabilities, remote log-in and encryption of all 911 calls for increased privacy.

It also provides increased networking capabilities and lets the Galveston 911 centers receive pictures and video sent by people at the scene. This will enable the dispatchers to better determine which emergency personnel are required at the scene, as well as allow the responders to more thoroughly prepare for the emergency en route.

The GCECD believes the new system's ability to quickly network PSAPs together is one of the most critical benefits of the new system. Networking allows less busy call centers to provide assistance for centers that are experiencing spikes in call volume.

"Now the PSAPs within the service area of GCECD will be in a much better position to back up each other if needed," said Bobby Wright, executive director of the GCECD.

Two years ago, the GCECD began its search for a PSAP call-center solution that would centralize the control equipment, be easier to maintain and be cost-effective. It also wanted a next-generation solution that would utilize less proprietary equipment, and could quickly accommodate future technologies and operate over an IP network.

The district selected the Synapse call-handling system from Huntsville, Ala.-based Tel Control, Inc. (TCI). Synapse is an open-architecture, VoIP- ready solution that integrates technologies from Avaya and TCI.

"IP telephony provides far more than just the ability to accommodate the increase in call volume and accept text messaging, images and OnStar data," said Jeff Robertson, TCI's president and a former policeman. "It lets call centers consolidate their hardware and systems for cost efficiency, while delivering added redundancy across the network. It also provides nearly unlimited paths for calls to get through, and makes it far easier to link together call handlers, emergency personnel and offsite staff."

Robertson continued, "It's forward-thinking people such as Bobby Wright, Jack Wilkins and the other leaders at GCECD who will ensure that the emergency community nationwide has the networking capability to handle the dramatic increase in 911 calls and large-scale emergencies, whether they are caused by people or the environment."

Industry experts point out that the IP-networks used by 911 centers are not what consumers and corporations use. "VoIP-based PSAP systems use secure, private data networks -- not the Internet," said Lee Moore, founder of 911Consult, Inc., a consulting group specializing in IT services for the E911 community. "These private network providers allow the PSAP to define the quality as well as the quantity of service needed to deliver full, uncompressed voice to the PSAPs. In comparison, residential Internet service is delivered as a 'best effort,' and bandwidth can be a problem during peak usage times."

AT&T is acting as the integrator for this project. The mapping application is provided by GeoComm.

About TCI

For more than 20 years, Huntsville, Ala.-based Tel Control, Inc. has been specializing in 911 telephony solutions. More than 700 Public Service Answering Points across North America rely on TCI's technologies and solutions to provide reliable and nearly instantaneous response for the citizens in their areas.

TCI's mission is to continually improve public safety 911 communications by remaining the industry's most innovative and responsive provider of Enhanced 911 solutions. With the installation of the first IP-enabled system in Texas, as well as the first IP-enabled system in the U.S. (Elmore County, Alabama in 2004), TCI is cementing its reputation as a leader for next- generation E911 solutions.

For more information, visit http://www.tci911.com .

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