Since 2013, SynergemNET™ has been tested with superlative results in Industry Collaboration Events hosted by the National Emergency Number Association (NENA) as well as in third-party lab environments. Synergem is once again demonstrating that leadership during the deployment of the statewide NG9-1-1 interoperability system in California.
SynergemNET™ Showcases NG9-1-1 Interoperability
One promise of NG9-1-1 is that the new standard will increase the overall reliability and redundancy of the system. All while using the latest in telecommunications technologies. Inherent in this is the need for multiple vendors and networks to interoperate according to the standard.
The California Office of Emergency Services (CalOES) had a vision to take the NG9-1-1 standard and apply it with a multi-vendor approach spread across its large geographic territory. Because of the unique nature of the State’s topography, and the different types of natural disasters that could put strain on the system (fires, earthquakes, blizzards, etc.), the State wanted multiple vendors and networks to spread the load and provide service both locally and statewide.
To deploy this strategy, CalOES split the state into four regions, selecting Regional Network Service Providers (RNSP) to be the primary carrier for NG9-1-1 traffic in each region. In addition, CalOES chose a Prime Network Service Provider (PNSP) to coordinate such things as database and policy rules. The PNSP alsoprovides backup carrier services in the event the facilities of an RNSP are down.
Synergem is the RNSP for Northern California, which includes most of the State from San Jose north. Synergem is also providing the NG9-1-1 Core Services in Southern California through its partnership with Lumen. As such, SynergemNET™ is providing service for half the State. And Synergem, being the only vendor in the project with experience deploying a state-wide NG9-1-1 system has provided a leadership role driving the whole project.
The California project showcases the full suite of SynergemNET™ services to achieve NG9-1-1 interoperability among many types of vendors.
It manages geospatial call routing within the Regions served by Synergem. As such, it coordinates between the other RNSPs as well as the PNSP to handle updates to the location data and policy rules that drive the call routing decisions.
It links all the telephone carriers (AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile and all others in the region) into the system, with flexibility to support both legacy and next-generation call types.
This customized network is designed to connect the PSAPs in Synergem’s region, with multiple levels of redundancy both in the circuits and the equipment installed at each PSAP.
Call Routing Complexity through i3-Route™
Although CalOES had researched and designed the overall architecture, it was the vendors that put the details in place to deploy and operate it. The multi-vendor group leveraged Synergem’s expertise to complete the Interface Control Document (ICD). This defines details required for the providers to manage traffic across and between their networks. Things like IP addressing, domain space naming, security and encryption protocols all had to be defined and accepted. In addition, Synergem and its partners drove the definition of the formats required for the statewide Location Database (LDB) that will be shared by the entire vendor group. It is necessary to provide accurate PSAP routing based on a caller’s location.
If an RNSP network is disabled, the network design also assures that calls are re-routed immediately over the PNSP, thus requiring a constant state of coordination and readiness. While certain types of interoperability have been demonstrated at industry events in the past, the California project represents the first time that such a high degree of coordination has been put into practice.
One critical test of this system was called the Phase II Acceptance Test. In large part because of the role Synergem played in deploying the system, it was the first RNSP to successfully demonstrate and pass this acceptance test.
Integrating the Carriers with i3-Interconnect™
Bringing the Originating Service Providers (OSPs) into the network is a critical piece of the puzzle. After all, every call originates on their networks before it gets into the NG9-1-1 system. State regulation required all carriers to deliver their traffic. But, they weren’t all at the same level of readiness or ability to do so easily. To resolve this, Synergem provided Points of Interconnect (POIs) throughout the Region to accept both legacy (circuit-switched) and IP (packet switched) traffic. Each POI has the ability to accept either type of traffic. It can also convert the protocols if necessary into the NG9-1-1 i3 format. The end result is that a call to 9-1-1 can start on any network, in any format. It can travel through the NG9-1-1 system to reach the appropriate PSAP.
ESInet Completes the Link to the PSAPs
To deliver calls to the PSAPs, each RNSP had to extend its network into every PSAP in its Region. In Synergem’s case, this meant 160+ PSAPs, including both dense metro populations like the Bay Area and Sacramento, but also sparsely populated areas in the mountainous north. Synergem was also responsible for establishing the baseline IT environment required to house and run the NG9-1-1 gear. Despite all the lockdowns from Covid during 2020, Synergem nevertheless developed a coordinated process to bring all this together.
- Synergem required site surveys of every PSAP to determine electrical capabilities and space needs within the location. Once Covid lockdowns began in Spring 2020, PSAP personnel completed surveys with help from liberal use of cellphone video calls.
- To satisfy the CalOES requirements, Synergem ordered two independent IP circuits for every PSAP. Lead times for circuit installation can be many months, so ordering them early was essential to keep the project on-track.
- Based on survey data, Synergem worked with each PSAP to order any electrical work necessary to support the NG9-1-1 equipment. Per State requirements, the electricians also had to install equipment racks if none were available at the PSAPs.
- With the electrical work complete and rack in place, Synergem managed a complex staging process. They were able to get its equipment kits out to all 160+ PSAPs, install them and bring them online. The Synergem team set a standard for these kits, which was critical, as each rack required additional equipment to be put in by the PNSP. The additional equipment helps to connect to the phone system at the PSAP. Any change to the standard configuration would threaten to derail the whole site.
- The last phase of site installation was to turn up the circuits and bring each PSAP fully into the network.
All this work demonstrates that interoperability isn’t always just about pieces of software working together. Interoperability is also about managing all the various contractors and customer sites. They all must work together to make a project happen. The steps Synergem took to deploy its ESInet in California will be essential to other large NG9-1-1 projects.
Interoperability is Essential to NG9-1-1
The California project is a great illustration of the benefits of NG9-1-1, with its improved redundancy and reliability and use of the latest in telecom technology. However, it also showcases that any successful NG9-1-1 will require a significant degree of coordination between all the parties involved in a project.
This means not only the traditional vendors, but also the PSAP personnel and even local contractors who play a role in deploying the system. Any jurisdiction that is considering or planning these projects should pay close attention to these details, and should spend time with their primary vendors to develop a solid plan.
If you would like to discuss this with us here at Synergem please reach out to our team.