911 fever pitch

Tech Culture

A week doesn't pass without a new product for the U.S. emergency phone network to accommodate voice over Internet Protocol. HP and Intrado throw a hat in the ring next with new technology.

Now what will VoIP operators blame for the dangerous route their 911 calls still take? Perhaps a cry of poverty about the pricy gear from HP/Intrado, or NetFabric's new Fus1on Intelligent Call Director (where "safety is not an issue")?

There's no doubt improvement is imminent. In some ways, there's no other possible direction. There's just one U.S. market in which a VoIP caller can dial 911 and assuredly reach the right emergency call center. But given the battle to get even this far, expect more years of problems.

It's a shame, these delays. A 911 call over VoIP does for the nation's emergency call centers what the invention of radios did for police cars. For instance, HP and Intrado say someone could snap a photo on their combination cell phone camera and upload the image to the dispatcher. That's just the beginning. But when will it start?

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