WASHINGTON - An enhanced 911 (E911) emergency communications system installed by Verizon is the cornerstone of a new Public Safety Communications Center designed to better meet public safety needs in Washington, D.C.
The new center was unveiled today at a ribbon-cutting ceremony conducted by Mayor Anthony Williams and attended by other local officials and prominent business leaders.
The new system incorporates the latest in telecommunications network technology to provide improved resources for the District of Columbia's public safety agencies.
Concurrent with installation of the new communications system, the District of Columbia government moved the system's primary public safety answering point (PSAP) from 300 Indiana Ave., N.W. to its new location at 310 McMillan Drive, N.W. This move combines the District's police, fire and emergency medical operations in the same facility for the first time - a move designed to improve interagency effectiveness and efficiency.
In addition to the system at McMillan Drive, Verizon installed an extensive network of dedicated fiber and copper facilities throughout the District, all homing in on the new center.
''As a local company serving Washington, D.C. for more than a century, Verizon is honored to be a part of this dramatic improvement in public safety in the District,'' said Marie Johns, president of Verizon Washington, D.C. ''The turning up of this E911 system will greatly enhance public safety officials' ability to perform their critical duties. All businesses and residents of the District will benefit as a result.''
In addition to handling 911 emergency calls, call takers at the PSAP also answer calls to the District's 311 and 202-727-1010 non-emergency lines. Calls to the PSAP are prioritized by the new system, with 911 emergency calls taking precedence over calls to 311, 202-727-1010 and other non-emergency numbers. A Plant Electronics VESTA M-1 switch system integrates the emergency 911 system with the PSAP's new radio, mapping, digital logging and other systems.
''The District and Verizon have designed a state-of-the-art emergency system that will evolve along with Washington's unique communications requirements,'' said Ed McGuinness, senior vice president-marketing for Verizon's Enterprise Solutions Group, the Verizon group responsible for the design and installation of the enhanced system.
With the new emergency communications system, when a customer places a 911 call, the call travels from the customer's local Verizon call-switching office over a dedicated one-way trunk line via a specially configured, fully redundant E911 tandem switch to the PSAP. By the time the call arrives at the PSAP through these special 911 trunks, the person taking the call already has the phone number and location of the caller on the screen, thanks to information provided by sophisticated databases. The new system presents the information in an easy-to use Windows® format.
In the course of the 911 call, the Metropolitan Police Department call taker confirms the caller's phone number and address, and the system uses it to route the proper emergency service provider to the scene. Before this change, the MPD call takers had to transfer fire and EMS calls across town for dispatch. Now the call takers and dispatchers are located in the same facility. This simplifies interagency coordination - a critical factor during major events.
''Consistent with the government's desire to improve the call takers' work environment, Verizon selected an intelligent interface that displays critical information to the call taker in an interactive, intuitive fashion,'' said McGuinness.
The new emergency system instantly recognizes text telephone (TDD) calls from deaf and hard-of-hearing customers and provides the call taker customized, pre-programmed phrases that enable call takers to speak directly to the TTD devices in a syntax the devices recognize. This will dramatically improve emergency communications with members of the District's deaf and hard-of-hearing community.
The system is modular in design and can be configured to meet the specific needs of Washington's community. It is expandable and can grow with DC public safety demands. The system runs on the Windows NT® platform, which has an abundance of available technical support.
Verizon Enterprise Solutions Group manages the design, operation and maintenance of end-to-end total network integrated solutions for large business and government customers across the United States. With nearly 16,000 employees in 46 states, Verizon Enterprise Solutions Group offers a complete range of basic and advanced communications products and services to meet the voice, video, data and IP-related needs of its customers. For more information on products and services available through Verizon Enterprise Solutions Group, visit www.verizon.com
Verizon Communications (NYSE:VZ) is one of the world's leading providers of communications services. Verizon companies are the largest providers of wireline and wireless communications in the United States, with nearly 109 million access line equivalents and more than 27.5 million wireless customers. Verizon is also the world's largest provider of print and online directory information. A Fortune 10 company with approximately 260,000 employees and more than $63 billion in annual revenues, Verizon's global presence extends to 40 countries in the Americas, Europe, Asia and the Pacific. For more information on Verizon, visit www.verizon.com