TECH CORNER: VESTA® SMS and the Right Questions

One of the most important things for PSAPs implementing text-to-9-1-1 is knowing the right questions to ask.

Why? The right questions lead you to the info that defines your PSAPs standard operating procedure (SOP) and technical configuration for SMS calls!

As we work with more and more PSAPs to implement the VESTA® SMS application, we are finding many aren’t sure of the right questions to ask, which could lead to avoidable growing pains in the future.

To help PSAPs work through this challenge, we have compiled an essential set of questions to shape their operational requirements, help them build their SOP for SMS, and produce a configuration to meet their needs, regardless if the agency has 2 or 200 positions. These questions will help PSAPs understand their options—from system configuration to daily operation.

The questions fall into three categories: 1) agent behavior 2) infrastructure and 3) queueing. All three are important and deliver the detail PSAPs need to efficiently manage SMS calls.

For example, when addressing agent behavior, we identify how the SMS call is handled by Calltakers within a PSAP, looking at areas like:

  • How many Calltakers will handle the text calls?
  • Will the PSAP have dedicated Calltakers responding to SMS calls or allow everyone to respond to them?
  • How many text sessions should Calltakers handle at one time?

Some of the other questions we assist PSAPs with that address infrastructure and queueing include:

  • What are the transfer call flows for each PSAP? For example, will the PSAP support the transfer of SMS calls to other agencies within the VESTA® 9-1-1 system?
  • For each PSAP, what is the SMS domain, using as the structure? What are the queue names?
  • What are the roles and visibility to queues for each PSAP?
  • What are the route scenarios for ‘timeout’ and no agents logged in?
  • How many queues does the PSAP want?
  • How will the PSAP handle abandoned SMS calls?
  • With text-to-9-1-1 in its initial stages, we are all constantly learning and refining together how to make this new type of emergency call as easy as possible for Calltakers and for the PSAPs operating procedures. What we do know for certain is that asking the right questions is a great way to work it all out both in theory and in action.

Ameel Kamboh
Chief Architect
Airbus DS Communications

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