A model for Next Gen 911: Facebook

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski has announced the FCC’s new five-step plan to revamp its 911 system to keep pace with data communications.

According to the FCC, these Next Generation 911 (NG911) services will allow emergency dispatchers to receive text messages, photos and even video.

If the FCC manages to pull this off, dispatchers would have even more information at their disposal, and quickly. This would no doubt end up saving more lives, which is definitely a good thing.

But one thing Genachowski did not go into is when the commission might be able to accomplish this marvelous feat, nor did he give any details how it might be done. Building a nationwide network that allows hundreds of millions users to share text, images and video is no doubt difficult, but it has been done before. So, FCC, my suggestion to you is one word: Facebook.

Why not? Our good Mr. Zuckerberg has already created a network that does most of what you want NG911 to do. Maybe you should ask for his help on this.

The one major complaint people have expressed with Facebook is invasion of privacy, but that isn’t really a concern here. I mean, when are you less concerned about your privacy being infringed than when your house is on fire? You WANT people to know your personal information when fire's involved.

Of course, given the purpose of NG911 to facilitate the delivery of disaster information, we’d still have the dilemma as to whether it’s good form to ‘like’ an announcement of bad news as a show of support for the victim.

“There’s a fire at my house!” is not something that we generally want to like, though on Facebook, “Like” means something different. I don’t think we as a society will ever figure that one out.

So think about it, Mr. Chairman. Heck, maybe even the Napster guy will jump at this project too. He’s usually good for a laugh.

About the Author

Greg Crowe is a former GCN staff writer who covered mobile technology.

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Reader Comments

Thu, Aug 23, 2012 Abdu


Thu, Sep 8, 2011 Mike Kern Co.

Although having more information and live data feeds sounds like things we should automatically embrace, further discussion and research must be undertaken to determine how such information will be utilized. Live feeds of fires or critical incidents (in progress assaults, person in distress, etc) can be very useful to responding personnel but would likely be extremely damaging to the personnel who take calls regularly in dispatch centers. They are trained, and used to, dealing with non-visual information and providing the necessary resources and responses. The field could benefit tactically with live feeds but forcing it upon dispatch personnel is destructive to their long-term well being.

Mon, Aug 15, 2011

FB is NOT a network- it is a giant BBS that happens to reside on the internet. If their server farms crash, or if the local segment of IP world crashes, it is useless. Emergency comms need redundancy. Local-loop copper and RF still beat any virtual networks for reliability and availability.

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