[Docs] [txt|pdf] [Tracker] [Email] [Nits]

Versions: 00

Internet Engineering Task Force                               Hal Folts
INTERNET DRAFT                           National Communications System
Expires November 15, 2000                                   May 15,2002

Requirements for Emergency Telecommunication Capabilities in the


Status of This Memo

This document is an Internet-Draft and is in full conformance with all
provisions of Section 10 of RFC2026

Internet-Drafts are working documents of the Internet Engineering Task
Force (IETF), its areas, and its working groups. Note that other
groups may also distribute working documents as Internet Drafts.

Internet-Drafts are draft documents valid for a maximum of six months
and may be updated, replaced, or obsoleted by other documents at any
time.  It is inappropriate to use Internet-Drafts as reference
material or to cite them in other than as "work in progress."

The list of current Internet-Drafts can be accessed a
http://www.ietf.org/ietf/lid-abstracts.text The list of Internet-Draft
Shadow Directories can be accessed at http://www.ietf.org/shadow.html


Copyright (c) Internet Society 2001.  All rights reserved.
Reproduction or translation of the complete documents, but not of
extracts, including this notice, if freely permitted.

Abstract: Priority telecommunication capabilities are required to
support critical emergency communications through the public
telecommunications infrastructure to support disaster recovery
operations for saving lives and restoring community infrastructure.
Many important issues are identified that are essential to ensuring
effective emergency telecommunications capabilities are established in
Internet-based infrastructures. The term "communication session" is used
instead of "call" so that all modes of communication can be considered
collectively; emergency telecommunication capabilities are not just
limited to telephony traffic. No solutions are suggested, but the
basic requirements are clearly identified for consideration by the
ieprep Working Group of the IETF.

1. Introduction

Natural and man-made disasters can take place anywhere,
anytime. These include, for example, earthquakes, floods, airplane
crashes, and terrorist attacks. While some advance planning is
possible for expected disaster events, most disasters happen

Readily available telecommunication capabilities are essential for
emergency recovery operations to quickly start saving lives and

                     Emergency Telecommunications         November 2002

restoration of community infrastructure. A number of telecommunication
facilities can be involved in disaster recovery operations. These
include local mobile radio, dedicated satellite systems, transportable
capabilities, and the public telecommunications infrastructure. Some
of these facilities need to be deployed to the disaster site and may
not be immediately available. The public telecommunication services,
however, are generally at hand except in the most remote areas. The
public capabilities include the traditional telephone network and the
Internet, which can all be accessed via wire line, wireless, and
various broadband facilities. Disaster recovery operations can
significantly benefit from a variety of modes for interchange of
critical information to organize and coordinate the emergency
activities. Emergency voice communications have been supported today
by a priority service through public telephone networks in some
countries. Now, however, an evolution is taking place in traditional
public telecommunication networks toward integrating circuit-switched
and packet-based technologies. This promises to provide a rich menu of
fully integrated capabilities for handling voice, message, data, and
video traffic to greatly enhance disaster recovery operations.

Today mostly voice traffic using either VoIP or conventional telephony
is used for emergency communications over wire line and wireless
facilities. However, narrowband modes can also be applied, including
instant messaging, Email, and telemedicine telemetry. In addition,
wideband capabilities for video broadcast, conferencing, and
telemedicine will also enhance emergency recovery operations.

During serious disaster events public networking facilities can
experience severe stress due to damaged infrastructure and heavy
traffic loads. As bandwidth gets severely constrained, it
becomes difficult to establish and maintain effective communication
sessions. It is essential that disaster recovery operations be given
preferential use of remaining bandwidth. Authorized emergency
communication sessions need to have priority use of available network
resources over non-emergency traffic to quickly organize and
coordinate saving of lives and restoration of community

Only people authorized by the appropriate authority are permitted to
establish priority communication sessions through public networking
facilities for facilitating immediate life-saving disaster recovery
operations. Those typically authorized are local police, fire, and
medical resources as well as designated government officials from
local, regional, and national levels who will be responsible for
various aspects of disaster recovery operations.

All emergency communication sessions will be processed as normal
traffic along with all non-emergency traffic when sufficient network
bandwidth and resources are available. ONLY when networks reach
traffic saturation is there a need for giving emergency communication
sessions preference over non-emergency communications. While this
occurrence may never happen in the typical Internet-based environment,
capabilities for preferential handling of emergency traffic need to be
established in preparation for such a catastrophe.

Folts                   Document, May 15, 2002                        2
                      Emergency Telecommunications             May 2002

The preferential capabilities for handling authorized emergency
traffic should be accomplished using existing applications and
standards when possible. Establishment of new and different standards
would be both costly and unlikely to ever be implemented. The desired
approach is to adopt existing standards and where needed adapt
new standards with any necessary adjustments needed to support
preferential treatment of emergency traffic during severe periods of
congestion. The IETF needs to include consideration in the development
of RFCs where there is potential benefit to fulfilling the
requirements for preferential treatment of authorized emergency
traffic through an Internet-based infrastructure.

2. Requirements

There are two areas that need to be addressed to provide the
capabilities in an Internet-based environment to support handling of
emergency traffic. The first is preferential processing of packet
flows conveying emergency communications when the capacity of network
resources becomes severely constrained. The second area is security,
which includes authentication of authorized users originating
emergency communication sessions and protection of emergency traffic
from intrusion. The requirements and objectives to be considered and
fulfilled wherever possible and practical to established effective
capabilities for emergency communications are as follows:

   A. Preferential Treatment - The objective is to enable emergency
      communication sessions to be processed preferentially during
      times of severe congestion and restricted bandwidth when the
      total traffic demand cannot be accommodated. Emergency
      communications need to be given priority over non-emergency
      communications under these severe conditions. When all traffic
      can be accommodated by the network resources, no preferential
      treatment is required.

      1) Access - Emergency communication sessions cannot be
         established until initial access is gained to the network.
         Today there is not a ready provision for priority access to
         the public cellular and telephone systems. Access to the
         Internet via direct connection can normally interleave
         multiple sessions and therefore enable packets conveying
         emergency communications to share entry. A means for
         preferential access needs to be explored.

      2) Establishment - Once access has been gained, the address of
         the destination as well as other parameters can be passed
         to enable establishment of the communication session. Once
         the initiating user is authenticated as being authorized to
         establish emergency communications in the
         telecommunications infrastructure, the established session
         can proceed and all packets need to covey an emergency
         identification and must receive preferential treatment over
         non-emergency packets.

      3) Routing - In a connectionless infrastructure (Internet),

Folts                   Document, May 15, 2002                        3
                      Emergency Telecommunications             May 2002

         packets are routed individually to the destination during
         an ongoing communication session. In a circuit-switched
         environment, once established via a single path, a
         communications session is essentially locked into place and
         needs no further priority processing. On the other hand,
         the additional consideration is needed for packet networks
         to continuing processing all packets supporting a specific
         instance of an emergency communication from initiation to

      4) Use of network resources - During a disaster event, the
         telecommunication facilities can experience damage that can
         severely limit the availability of resources to support the
         traffic demand. When this serious condition occurs, the
         emergency traffic needs to have precedence over non-
         emergency traffic. This may not occur often or ever, but if
         it does, it is particularly critical that emergency traffic
         gets preferential treatment over non-emergency traffic to
         facilitate saving of lives and restoration of community

      5) Completion to destination - If a communication session
         cannot be completed in today's telecommunications
         environment either due to no answer or busy, the
         communication request in unsuccessful. In a single channel
         egress, a busy or no-answer condition prevents a session
         from reaching its destination. No-response is a dead-end,
         but busy destinations need to be overridden. When this is a
         packet interleave destination egress, the communication
         should be delivered, but if it is a single point egress, a
         priority indication needs to be provided to the destination
         end, such as a priority "call waiting" alert.

   B. Security - Two important considerations need to be taken into
      account for security issues for emergency communications. The
      first is to ensure rapid authentication of authorized users and
      then protection of emergency traffic from intrusion from outside

      1) Authentication - `Only users authorized by the appropriate
         national authority shall have access to the priority
         telecommunication capabilities in the pubic
         telecommunications infrastructure. In today's public
         telephone networks a credit-card process is used. This
         means entry of some 32 digits of information to complete
         establishment of a communication session. This is
         cumbersome and time-consuming. With future technology there
         is a need for a more time-responsive and streamlined
         mechanism for rapid authentication. New technology should
         be explored to seek an effective solution to this problem.

      2) Intrusion - The overall problem of Internet security is
         being pursued by appropriate and expert resources in the
         IETF and elsewhere. However, the specific problem of

Folts                   Document, May 15, 2002                        4
                      Emergency Telecommunications        November 2002

         emergency traffic needs to be addressed. Emergency traffic
         needs to be protected against intrusion, spoofing, and
         specifically, denial of service. Emergency traffic must be
         processed without interference. If overall security
         measures that are established do not satisfy these specific
         requirements, additional consideration needs to be given to
         protection specifically focused on emergency traffic. While
         most emergency traffic for immediately organizing and
         coordinating local recovery operations, some emergency
         communications among certain government officials will need
         to be protected against eavesdropping and possibly against
         being traced to both source and destination points.

 3. Example Scenarios

Some example instances for emergency communications are described
below. These show some different levels of emergency communication
requirements that need to be supported.

   A. Local recovery operations - While mobile radio is the primary
      mode of communication for police and fire brigade operations,
      there is often a need to supplement these capabilities with
      access to the public telecommunication networks. This is
      particularly needed during the initial stages and immediately
      following the disaster event. These emergency communications can
      be accomplished through use of wireless, cellular phone or PDA,
      access where priority service may necessary due to congestion.
      Some mobile radio systems interface with public networks, but its
      use is often discouraged or avoided because of limited bandwidth
      availability. Communications outside the immediate local radio
      coverage area is often required to request additional resources
      from other areas and to notify and coordinate operations with
      regional (e.g. county and state) and national authorities.

   B. Medical operations - The process of saving lives and getting
      victims to medical treatment, is greatly enhanced through the use
      of data telemetry to remotely provide victim vital signs to a
      central medical center. In addition, treatment of victims at the
      disaster site can be significantly accelerated through the use of
      video telemedicine transmissions to remote medical staff. These
      vital life-saving communications must have preferential treatment
      in the public telecommunications infrastructure.

   C. Regional operations - The magnitude of the event may require
      recovery support from resources outside of the immediate area of
      impact. Critical information is provided for authorities to
      proclaim a disaster crisis and activate vital support resources.
      Regional emergency operations centers would the need immediate
      and effective telecommunication capabilities to rapidly
      organize and coordinate support from elsewhere regionally,
      nationally, or internationally.

   D. National operations - The most serious disaster events can impact
      national security of a country. Therefore, immediate action is

Folts                   Document, May 15, 2002                        5
                      Emergency Telecommunications        November 2002

      required by government officials to organize and coordinate the
      highest level of emergency support resources. In addition with a
      serious threat to national security, actions to ensure continuity
      of government must be initiated. These types of activities need
      to not only have priority treatment for emergency communications
      in the public telecommunications domain, but they also require
      protection against eavesdropping of confidential/sensitive
      information. In addition, locations of source and destination of
      some critical national security traffic needs protection.

4. Conclusion

There are a number of critical issues that must be addressed by the
IETF as outlined above. These are important ingredients to the total
solution required for effective of an effective emergency
telecommunication capabilities in the public telecommunication service
infrastructure. Technical solutions are neither deliberately proposed
nor suggested above to allow full consideration and innovation in
seeking the effective solutions. There are many other aspects
including the full systems, procedural, operational, policy, and
regulatory aspects that also need to be address by other
organizations. The IETF plays a critical role in this process to
ensure that the technical capabilities in Internet-based
infrastructures that support these requirements are established and

5. Security Considerations

See draft-ietf-ieprep-security-00.txt on emergency telecom security.

6. Acknowledgements

Many thanks to Ian Brown and Ken Carlberg, for their comments on this

8. Author's Address

Hal Folts, Senior Systems Engineer
Priority Services - Internet Team, Technology and Programs
National Communications System
+1 703 607-6186

9. Copyright "Copyright (C) The Internet Society (date). All Rights
Reserved. This document and translations of it may be copied and
furnished to others, and derivative works that comment on or otherwise
explain it or assist in its implementation may be prepared, copied,
published and distributed, in whole or in part, without restriction of
any kind, provided that the above copyright notice and this paragraph
are included on all such copies and derivative works.  However, this
document itself may not be modified in any way, such as by removing
the copyright notice or references to the Internet Society or other

Folts                   Document, May 15, 2002                        6
                      Emergency Telecommunications        November 2002

Internet organizations, except as needed for the purpose of developing
Internet standards in which case the procedures for copyrights defined
in the Internet Standards process must be followed, or as required to
translate it into languages other than English.

The limited permissions granted above are perpetual and will not be
revoked by the Internet Society or its successors or assigns. This
document and the information contained herein is provided as an "AS

Folts                   Document, May 15, 2002                        7

Html markup produced by rfcmarkup 1.129d, available from https://tools.ietf.org/tools/rfcmarkup/