911 emergency service

What is 911?

911 is the nationwide three-digit code designated as the “universal emergency number” to report emergencies and request assistance in the United States. It’s estimated 240 million 911 calls are made yearly in the U.S. 

So, how did 911 get where it is today? It all started when the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) met with AT&T to establish an emergency calling service. But the evolution of 911 didn’t stop there. 

From the launch of basic 911 for access to emergency services across the country, the rise of E911 to ensure accurate locational data, to Next Generation 911’s enhanced capabilities for multimedia formats during emergency calls — this important service continues to evolve with changing regulations and technology. 

Why should you care about 911? 

Whenever call centers receive emergency contact, the service’s emergency call routing detects the caller’s location and diverts the call to the appropriate Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP). 

The PSAP itself might use similar routing strategies to get in touch with the correct responder. PSAPs are available in many countries, including the U.S., Canada, the UK, Australia, Germany, France, and Ireland. 

What are the three types of 911 calls? 

  • Basic 911: The traditional analog 911 system actively used until the launch of E911 and more integrated solutions. 
  • E911: The first major evolution of 911 which focused on providing accurate locational information to dispatch for calls made using mobile phones and other nomadic technologies. 
  • Next Generation 911: The next wave of 911 technology capable of supporting a wide variety of multimedia formats, including texting, video, and photos. 

Not surprisingly, 911 is one of the many N11 codes established by the North American Numbering Plan Administrator. Other N11 codes include: 

  • 211 for community information 
  • 311 for governmental services 
  • 411 for local directory assistance 
  • 511 for traffic and weather information 
  • 611 for repair services 
  • 711 for the Telecommunications Relay Service (TRS), a service boosting telephone accessibility for those with disabilities 
  • 811 for information on underground pipelines and utilities for use with excavation projects. In Canada, 811 covers non-urgent healthcare. 
  • 911 is the last and most well-known N11 code for emergency calling purposes. 

Combined, all of these N11 codes help provide easy and reliable access to the many important services North Americans rely on. 

What are the benefits of 911? 

As the nationwide three-digit code designated as the “universal emergency number” it provides critical service to assure individuals can report emergencies and request assistance. It’s estimated that 10,000 lives are saved every year by reducing 911 response times by just one ominute. 

How does Sinch work with 911? 

Every second matters in an emergency. Knowing where to send emergency assistance can make all the difference. 

All of Sinch’s voice, video, and collaboration solutions support modern 911 standards like E911 and Next Generation 911, ensuring our partners are compliant with current 911 regulations.