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Research Agenda

We have outlined our recommendations for a transformed 911 in the previous chapters, and we need an evidence base to ensure that these recommendations are on solid footing to be implemented and scaled. We recognize that research on 911 to date has been scant, and thus our recommendations are not all based on strong empirical evidence. Some recommendations are explicit calls for research or data sharing, while others lend themselves to evaluation. As a result, we recommend that research be implemented in tandem, both to improve knowledge of the field generally and to evaluate the impacts of our recommendations. This is an exciting opportunity to be at the forefront of building an evidence base for an important, growing field.

The first order of this research agenda is to contribute to understanding the current state of 911, which is essential to assessing how best to implement our recommendations. We also see the implementation of these recommendations as an opportunity to gather information and evaluate their impacts, thus allowing for large-scale uptake and future evidence-based decision-making. Unless specified as national, all research outlined below should be tested in different size jurisdictions to improve generalizability.

Essential Research

Questions and avenues of inquiry that our research delegates deem critical to progress in the 911 field.

  • How many people are calling 911, and what are they calling about? There is a need for comprehensive national estimates to answer this question and inform all subsequent research questions.
  • What do we know about the implementation of new call-coding standards and the degree to which they are followed with fidelity?
  • What is the prevalence and impact of bias by proxy, passed from caller to call taker to responding officer, and how does it inform officer action?
  • Where are the alternative strategies proposed by our recommendations currently being implemented? Evaluate those pilots and programs in sites that vary in size and demographics to improve cross-contextual understanding.
  • Conduct surveys of 911 professionals to understand challenges and develop new career progression and retention strategies.
  • Develop a living system for digesting data in a standardized way for later AI analysis.

Evaluations to Conduct Concurrently with the Recommendations

Conduct the following evaluations while the recommendations are being implemented to contribute to the evidence base. For detailed research questions and methodologies that correspond with individual recommendations, see Appendix G.

Evaluate the introduction of:

  • Alternative first response models
  • Hotlines
  • 911 professional recruitment and retention methods
  • Governance models
  • Coordination of emergency communication centers
  • Next Generation 911
  • National or statewide standards

Evaluations should consider:

  • Accessibility
  • Budget impact
  • Impact on service delivery
  • Impact on harm reduction
  • Impact on 911 professional staff
  • Variations across program model
  • Variations across community

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