Saturday, September 24, 2005

Fall VON 2005 Day 3 - Emergency Services 

Finally back in Vienna, I will now try to catch up with my reporting from the VON. On Wednesday I had two panels to participate. The first was in the morning break-out sessions: Emergency Services for Internet Communications.

The panel bas basically a status report of the IETF ECRIT work currently going on and what's needed to complete this work and get it implemented in today's marketplace. Both co-chairs (Hannes Tschofenig and Marc Linsner) where on the panel and presented the status of ECRIT. This presentation is already available here. Everybody interested in the ongoing work of ECRIT may also go to the weblog on ECRIT and use the RSS feed.

First priority of ECRIT work is the get the requirements document and the threats and security considerations done. The central point for emergency services on the Internet from the ECRIT perspective is the mapping database providing the URI of a PSAP for a given location. Currently three proposals are on the table and the next task of ECRIT after finalizing the requirements will be do select either one of these proposals or define a combination of these. The good news here is that ECRIT should not define any new protocols, but re-use existing protocols from other IETF workgroups, especially SIP, SIPPING and GEOPRIV. One of the proposals for the mapping protocol is based on DNS, another on IRIS.

The next speakers where Henning Schulzrinne and Brian Rosen, both heavily involved in ECRIT and also in NENA work. NENA is currently undertaking a public consultation of the "i2" protocol interfacing with the US national access to PSAP on the PSTN and also working on an Internet only solution in parallel in close cooperation with IETF ECRIT.

Motoharu Kawanishi gave an overview of the status of VoIP and Eemergency Services in Japan.

Emergency Services for the Internet are currently on track and first solutions and implementations may be expected in one or two years. On the other hand, many countries are already forcing VoIP providers to provide ad-hoc solutions (e.g. the US) or are planning to do so.

These solutions are targeted against "interconnected" VoIP providers (whatever that is) or against PATS providers (another term nobody understands really).

National regulators miss two points:
1. there are not only national VoIP providers
2. There are also citizens from other countries visiting and may need to make an emergency call.

My presentation showed a way forward to allow emergency calls from any VoIP provider within a reasonable timeframe:
  • IETF ECRIT is working on a future solution to enable IP end-points to communicate with IP-PSAPs.
  • But most PSAPs are still on the PSTN and can only be reached via national specific emergency systems.
  • Regulators currently are requesting the capability to make emergency calls from "Interconnected VoIP" providers (only) - i.e. POTSoIP providers.
This is not a good idea.
  • Any VoIP provider MUST be able to provide their customers the capability to make emergency calls.
  • But one cannot expect (especially from global VoIP providers) to interface with all 200+ and different national specific emergency systems.
  • So VoIP providers will need some assistance. (Note: one should not forget that ECRIT is defining an architecture where the end-user may no need a service provider at all to contact the nearest PSAP, so why should VoIP provider be required now to put any effort and expenses in a system that may by-pass them in the future?)
  • So I proposed to provide national default Emergency Service Routing Proxies (ESRP) feeding the calls to national or state default PSAPs.
This could be improved gradually and seamlessly to comply with future solutions.

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