ATU272 – Next Generation 911

first_imgPodcast: Play in new window | DownloadYour weekly dose of information that keeps you up to date on the latest developments in the field of technology designed to assist people with disabilities and special needs.Show notes: Next Generation 911 with Mark “Fletch” Fletcher | | | | APCOINTL.orgSmart Watches for Nursing Homes – Binghamton University – News Releases to PDAA [Policy-Driven Adoption for Accessibility]: What it is, and how it can benefit 508 Programs at the Federal level the Hill with Audrey Busch |——————————If you have an AT question, leave us a voice mail at: 317-721-7124 or email [email protected] out our web site: https://www.eastersealstech.comFollow us on Twitter: @INDATAprojectLike us on Facebook:——-transcript follows ——MARK FLETCHER: Hi, this is Fletch. I’m the chief architect for public safety solutions at Avaya, and this is your Assistance Technology Update.WADE WINGLER: Hi, this is Wade Wingler with the INDATA Project at Easter Seals crossroads in Indiana with your Assistive Technology Update, a weekly dose of information that keeps you up-to-date on the latest developments in the field of technology designed to assist people with disabilities and special needs.Welcome to episode number 272 of Assistive Technology Update. It’s scheduled to be released on August 12, 2016.Today I get to spend some time with Fletch, Mark Fletcher, from Avaya, and we talk about next generation 911 systems. We’ve got a story about how some researchers at Binghamton University are making smart watches to increase safety in nursing homes; and a thing from the access board about a webinar on policy driven adoption for accessibility, all about Section 508 of the Rehab Act; we’ve got a segment from Audrey Hill who’s on the hill in Washington DC letting us know what’s happening at the federal level as it relates to disability and assistive technology; and a story about how to get Windows 10 for free as an upgrade on if you are an assistive technology user.We hope you’ll check out our website at, send us a note on Twitter at INDATA Project, or call our listener line, leave us questions and feedback. We love to hear from our audience. That number is 317-721-7124.***The free upgrade to Microsoft Windows 10 ended for the general public on July 29; however, I’m looking at a website on Microsoft site right now that says if you use assistive technology, you can still get the free upgrade offer, even after the general public deadline expires. Microsoft seems be interested in making sure accessibility is priority in this upgrade, so for now at least there is a thing on the website that says, yes I use assistive technologies and I’m ready for my free upgrade to Windows 10 and a button that says upgrade now. I don’t know how long this is going to last, but as of this recording, Wednesday, August 10, 2016, it looks like AT users can get Windows 10 for free. I’ll pop a link in the show notes, and if that’s something you’re interested, you might check it out before it goes away.***There is a group of researchers out of Binghamton University in New York who are trying to make nursing home alerts work a little bit better. In most nursing homes, when a resident needs help, they put basically push a button or maybe get a bed or pad sensor that lets the certified nursing assistant know that they need something, but those alerts usually go off in a centralized location and don’t provide a lot of information. If you’re working in a nursing home, you might hear a ring but might not know exactly who needs what kind of help and where. They are using a series of smart watches and apps that will allow the resident to indicate a little more detail about what they need, and also those watches will be worn by the nursing assistants so that no matter where they are in the facility, they will know who’s sounded the alarm for what kind of help and they can kind of prioritize how they’re going to be helping. Interesting stuff. I think that there is some application only in nursing homes, but I can see this used in other facilities or settings with folks and other kinds of disabilities as well. I’ll pop a link in the show notes over to the press release at Binghamton University and you can read more about that on your own. Check our show notes.***From our friends over at the access board, there’s going to be a webinar about Section 508 best practices. It’s going to be held on August 23 from 1 o’clock to 2:30 Eastern time, and the interesting thing about this is some states are starting to do policy driven adoption for accessibility. Basically Section 508 of the Rehab Act says if you are buying technology for government organizations, it needs to be accessible. There is a group of presenters, Jeff Klein, Jay Wind, Sarah Boren, and Timothy Creek who are with different states with the access board who are going to talk about what they’re doing to make sure the technology they buy or procure is going to be made accessible. Web accessibility falls into this 508 category as well, but for the information I have here, I can’t tell if that’s going to be part of webinar. If you head over to, there’s a place where you can register up to 24 hours before that August 23rd 1 PM start session for this free webinar. I’ll pop a link in the show notes where you can learn more and register to learn about procuring accessible technology.***It’s time for On The Hill with Audrey. Audrey Busch is the director of policy and advocacy for the Association of Assistive Technology Act Programs. In her update, she lets us know how the power of politics is impacting people with disabilities and the use of assistive technology. Learn more about Audrey and her work at BUSCH: This is Audrey Bush, policy and advocacy director for the Association of Assistive Technology Act Programs, coming to you with your monthly Washington update. Starting to July 15, Congress left the capital until after Labor Day. At the start of this almost six-week recess, the attention of both Republicans and Democrats turned to the convention the last two weeks in July. While Congress turned their focus to the election, they did leave behind in Washington a laundry list of legislative business to complete that is jammed up in bipartisan gridlock. While Congress did reach an agreement on salvaging the indebted Puerto Rico, funding to combat the rapidly spreading Zika virus did not make it over the finish line. Nor did legislation the GOP developed called an antiterrorist package in response to the violence in Orlando, Florida, reached the floor of Congress for a vote due to infighting within the GOP.One item of interest is that the House Appropriations Committee considered the passage of the Fiscal Year 2017 Labor Health and Human Services appropriations bill. This bill provided the assistive technology act with a $150,000 increase, allocating a total of $32,150,000 to the AT Act.While the House Appropriations Committee did push this bill out of the full committee, the lackluster progress by all of Congress made on all 12 appropriations bills will be a huge and very large time suck on the remaining 20 legislative days in the fiscal year. While both the House and Senate appropriations committees assembled and pass all 12 funding bills out of committee by this recess, each chamber has only passed three of the funding bills by the full body of the House and Senate. Therefore there are rumors of minibuses, which are packages of funding bills that will include a few federal agencies to fund for the new fiscal year. But whether or not there are minibuses or something else, Congress will have to consider appropriations bills upon their return, and lawmakers have fully conceded that a continuing resolution which level funds federal dollars at the current fiscal year will most likely be one of the avenues taken for some of the federal agencies moving into Fiscal Year 2017. There is much to be done when Congress returns in September, but in the meantime, enjoy the calm and stay cool.***WADE WINGLER: Not long ago, I saw headline come across my desk under the category of executive thought leadership. It’s tugged on my intellect because it said in America’s 911 system, there are still some things that need to be done. I notice it talked about people who are deaf and hard of hearing and their access to emergency telecommunication services. Obviously when I saw something like that, I thought I need to reach out to the author and see if we could have a conversation a little bit more about this. I was thrilled and excited when Fletch, Mark Fletcher, who is Avaya chief architect for world public safety solutions, agreed to come on our show. He is a podcaster himself and a super nice guy. I got to know him a little bit in the preinterview here and I’m excited to talk with him today. First and foremost, Fletch, how are you?MARK FLETCHER: Good, great, Wade, thanks for having me on your show today. I really appreciate it.WADE WINGLER: We are excited to hear we are going to talk today related to 911 and TTY and leveling the playing field a little bit. Let’s hear about you and your background a little bit and then tell me how that path in life got you to the point where you became interested in accessibility and disability and telecommunications.MARK FLETCHER: I was born in a small town in northern – no, that’s too far back. I grew up in northern New Jersey. When I got out of high school, the first job I had was as a police dispatcher in our local town, three towns, police, fire, medical. I did that for about five years, was extra special officer and even out on the road for a time. And then I got into total indications. Through telecommunications, fairly quickly, because of my background in public safety, it kind of wrapped me back around into focusing on that. So I went through and put my time in in the telecommunications industry, ended up working for Nortel which is now Avaya.In 2011, I was approached by Doctor Paul Michaelis who handled our Section 508 stuff who said, hey, there’s an emergency access advisory committee at the FCC, and I need somebody to my alternate. Would you get evolved? I said, yeah, sure, Paul, no problem. So since that’s an easy trip, I would attend those meetings, I got to know the community in Washington, and most of the committee represented or was from the disabled community. It opened my eyes to people who are deaf, people who had speech disabilities, people who are blind, deaf-blind. I knew they existed but I had no idea to what extent. And the fact that these people were just sheltered from emergency communications because of their disabilities. From a technology standpoint, we could do so much to fix that. This is my new calling in life.WADE WINGLER: That’s fascinating. You’re already tugging and my heart sing a little bit because I have a lot of friends who fall into that situation. In your article, you talk about the history of TTY and 911 and described kind of how that fell apart. Can you recover some of that and bring the audience up to speed on that a little bit, please?MARK FLETCHER: Sure. TTY has been out there. People said we could use the old teletypewriter missions we can put a acoustic coupler to transmit as audio over phone lines. Now I can have remote tele-typewriters where they can talk to each other. Okay, cool idea. You’re talking about the 60s. Not talking about a lot of new technology. iPhone’s didn’t exist back then. It was a way for the first time where people who are deaf could communicate with someone else. The problem is somebody else had to have that machine. This is where the relay services got involved. If I don’t – if I want to talk to someone who doesn’t have a machine, I can use a relay service and have them talk to that person. And then 711 became available where that was ubiquitous access for both sides. But those machines were big and heavy. They had to be plugged in and they needed a phone line to attach them. They were very much wired to the wall. Although there were a lot of programs that were put into place, and many of those programs are still in place today, as you know, to make assistive technology available where you can, it still a box to lug around. It’s slow and it’s cumbersome. Technology really moved on to where the Internet happened, and the Internet became available on a device I could put in my pocket. Because of that, new communications modalities became available, and TTY’s are just kind of dying. They are still around. You go down to the Federal Communications Commission, the main commission meeting room, in the back on the right side there is a TTY sitting there. I have never seen it being used. I doubt if it is ever plugged in. They are there but there are so many ways of communicating. It’s kind of becoming too antiquated. Trying to maintain those, I think, is actually counterproductive.WADE WINGLER: As you’re talking about this, I flashback to a childhood memory I had when I was a Boy Scout. We were all to make a first aid kit, and you had a Band-Aid box and you put stuff in there. You always took a piece of double-sided piece of tape and you put a dime in the lid of that thing so that, in case there was an emergency, you could run to the pace phone payphone, call the fire department at that point. You took me back there.MARK FLETCHER: That’s right. Always wear clean underwear and keep a dime in your pocket.WADE WINGLER: Exactly. Elaborate for me a little bit about why TTY and that kind technology is just no longer the answer for emergency communications.MARK FLETCHER: It’s slow. It’s not adaptive. It’s simplistic in nature, so type, go ahead, receive, go ahead, type, go ahead, receive. Through testing that’s been done – I think it first started in Europe with what they called real-time text over there – it’s a bilateral or bidirectional text in real time. It’s not compile the letters and send the sentence. It’s letter by letter transmitting. So when you are reviewing that, it’s more real-time. You can see the letters coming in one at a time so you can be a little more predictive in what someone’s typing and actually type back while they are typing. With TTY, if you’re in the middle of typing a long sentence — and I’m not the most brief person when speaking as you’ve noticed. If I’m typing a novel, you can’t instruct me without interrupting the communications path. It’s just a technology that is past its time.WADE WINGLER: What are you moving too? I know there are things like text 911 , next generation 911. I’m not really familiar with those. Can you take me to school with those?MARK FLETCHER: Next generation 911 is not as complex as everyone thinks. Next generation 911 is really just an IP enabled emergency services network. It’s not phone calls anymore. They are IP session connections. That session can be text, pictures, multimedia, plain old-fashioned voice, whatever it is and whatever is new coming down the pike. It allows the peer-to-peer connection. Now we can use an app, anything that can transmit from point A to point B. When you’ve got smart devices, iPhones, android devices, now the messaging applications, whether they are iMessage, FaceTime, text, whatever, SMS, it’s just a texting application transmitting a packet from here over to there and allowing you get back packets back. It can be whatever it wants, text, video, pictures, an immersive communication environment. That’s why it’s better than just a TTY which is very slow and there’s a lot of problems inherent in the technology.WADE WINGLER: As you are describing this technology, I’m starting to get an idea of how it works and why it might be so much better. What form does that take right now? Is this a collection of apps? Is it a specific system? Do the 911 centers have to have it? What does it look like from the perspective of the user?MARK FLETCHER: That’s a good question. It can look like anything from the user side. As a matter of fact, there is technology using HTML 5 or web RTC where you can surf to my webpage and immediately start a text session through a web browser. That’s the beauty of it. It doesn’t have to be an app on the user side. It doesn’t have to be an app on the receiving side. It can be this very ubiquitous IP connection. We do this today in call centers around the world. United Airlines and American Express and all these other companies that interact with the public, and they want to be able to interact over any modality, already use that to this technology. It’s just never been thought of for the 911 public safety community. And it’s new to them. There is a lot of hesitation because it’s 911 and it’s a public safety, but when you look at this, it actually improves over the existing sessions. Although it’s new and maybe a little hard to swallow. It can look like anything, to answer your question.WADE WINGLER: A couple of questions together here. How should we move ahead with this and who are the players? Then, what will be the impact on people with disabilities?MARK FLETCHER: I always describe next generation 911 as a three-legged stool. You have the 911 center that need to be upgraded with being able to receive and utilize the new technology, an IP-based Internet communication communications. You have the users on the originating side that need to have a smart device whether it’s an iPhone, a computer. It has to be a computing device that is capable of multimedia, multimodal communications. And then the third leg of the stool is the network in the middle. Today it’s the analog-based voice only 911 network. Tomorrow it’s going to be an emergency services IP network or an emergency services Internet, so to speak. That’s a three-legged stool. Where you start, it doesn’t matter, because until the three legs are there, and they are all of equal length, you’re not going to be able to sit on the stool. I say start where you can, and when it’s all together, then it just happens one day. That’s the beauty of NexGen. The changes on the user side, I don’t really see a lot of change there because people today, I think that particular community of users is already using this adaptive technology to communicate with each other. They are just not using it to communicate with number one. 911 have to play catch up and get the technology on their side, and then we have to build a network that supports it. Then we are done.WADE WINGLER: As I think about this, it’s starting to make sense to me. Are the players municipalities? Are they telecoms? Who are the “we” in the situation to put the three legs of the stool in place?MARK FLETCHER: I think it best works out when you have a county or consortium of counties or a state it’s going to say we are going to build the ESI net. Any leg can be built first. If I were going to build it, I would build the network first, and then you can let people attach as they come in place. The most successful deployments are where someone has built the ESI net. I’ve seen counties do it, consortiums of counties do it. Counties in southern Illinois built one. Then you have states like Vermont saying we are going to build an ESI net. You take a place like Texas or California, that’s a pretty big state so you can’t say you’re going to build a ESI net tomorrow and do it overnight because of the size. Everybody wants it. We’ve got so much funding being spent on the legacy network. I think someone – at some point you just have to stop the bleeding and bite the bullet and build the new network. Everybody is worried about the transition. The more we worry about the transition, the more we sit and get nothing done. That’s what drives me crazy.WADE WINGLER: Absolutely. In a second, I’m going to change gears and ask about your show. Before we do that, if people want to learn more about NexGen 911, what are some resources you would recommend for them to go on the web or elsewhere to get up to speed, as the state of this and where it goes from here.MARK FLETCHER: The FCC is one of those organizations I think that is probably run better than many others. They’ve got a very progressive webpage. It’s not perfect but they’ve been rebooting it over the years. I’ll tell you what, that the last reboot of the FCC webpage is pretty good. I like it. There’s a lot of information. If you go to and start searching around, there is tremendous information that you can find. Go to NENA, National Emergency Number Association, They’ve got great information on NexGen 911, on assistive technology, and everything from a public safety perspective. Apco International,, is the other standards body that’s also working on legislation. If you start there, you’ll get so many links out into the other ecosphere that’s working on this and you’ll recognize quickly what the names are. Start following these people. There is a lot happening on social media. Everybody is using that today including the committees that are building the standards and regulations. There is tons of information out there. That’s where I suggest people go to get more information.WADE WINGLER: I’ll pop the links in the show notes so people have easy access to those. Fletch, tell me about your show. You are sounding good today. You’re in your studio. Tell me about your podcast.MARK FLETCHER: People kept asking me about 911 and how it works. I was focusing on the enterprise, so PDZ systems and dialing 911. People kept asking me the same questions over and over. I said there has to be a way to more effective with my time. I was talking to a good buddy of mine who was on Sirius satellite radio. I used to work for him back in Orlando years ago in another life. I was always staying in touch with them. He said to me, why don’t you podcast? I said podcast? Yeah, anyone can do a radio show. Go out and get a $50 USB microphone and you have your computer. You can start podcasting. You record it once, and play it 100 times. I said I like that. That really scales. So I decided I know how to do radio, I know how to produce. I can do a podcast. So I did a little research. I learned how to do this and recorded a couple of shows on how 911 works. I made a couple YouTube videos and people were saying you should do this on a regular basis, which I started doing. I came up with a weekly podcast called E911 talk, which has kind of now been sunset. That was just the weekly show on 911 topics. Then I expended out into other topics. Now I do a generic podcast for Avaya and talk about whatever. Primarily public safety stuff but I’ll talk about whatever is there to talk about. I’m not shy.WADE WINGLER: Do you go. If people wanted to catch up with you and your shows, is there good place for them to look online? How would they find you?MARK FLETCHER: You can find me on iTunes under Mark Fletcher and Avaya. I was fortunate enough to get the URL when dot-tv domains came out. My blogs and podcasts I posted on You can certainly use that as a landing page. Most of my stuff is all published on Under Avaya podcast, under sound cloud, we are Fletch 911. You’ll find all of my content there. The best place to follow me on social media is on Twitter @Fetch911. From there you’ll see me spouting off on everything. I’m not shy.WADE WINGLER: Mark Fletcher is Avaya’s chief architect for world public safety solutions. Thank you so much for being with us today.MARK FLETCHER: No problem. It’s been an absolute pleasure to be on your show today. Thank you and all your listeners for giving me the time.WADE WINGLER: Do you have a question about assistive technology? Do you have a suggestion for someone we should interview on Assistive Technology Update? Call our listener line at 317-721-7124, shoot us a note on Twitter @INDATAProject, or check us out on Facebook. Looking for a transcript or show notes from today’s show? Head on over to Assistive Technology Update is a proud member of the Accessibility Channel. Find more shows like this plus much more over at That was your Assistance Technology Update. I’m Wade Wingler with the INDATA Project at Easter Seals Crossroads in Indiana. 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