CHDS Master’s Alum Sees 911 Modernization Thesis Work Gain Momentum

Seven years after Center for Homeland Defense and Security alum D. Jeremy DeMar published his groundbreaking thesis on the impact of Incident Related Imagery on emergency communications, his research remains relevant and is starting to gain national traction.

D. Jeremy DeMar

A veteran public safety emergency communications official who now works in the private sector, DeMar (Master’s Program cohort 1505/1506) said that while the industry has been reluctant to incorporate Incident Related Imagery (IRI) into its workflow, it is heartening to see “significant growth” on the issue over the past year and a half to two years. DeMar currently works as a Senior Product Manager for Public Safety Solutions and previously served as the Director of Springfield Emergency Communications in Massachusetts. He has also worked as a public safety dispatcher, firefighter, and emergency medical technician.

The research published in DeMar’s thesis, “Next Generation 9-1-1: Policy Implications of Incident Related Imagery on the Public Safety Answering Point,” was so new in 2017 that he coined the term IRI, which is formally defined as “any form of visual information associated with an incident scene that is delivered via any medium to public safety personnel.” In practical terms, IRI is the exchange of visual information from a crime, accident, or other emergency response scene, sent by 911 callers to 911 centers. That information can help call-takers better coordinate emergency responses through improved situational awareness.

DeMar’s thesis executive summary says that as “technology has evolved, the 911 profession has evolved with it. One aspect of the profession that has not changed, however, as wireless technology has improved is the ability of a 911 telecommunicator to view still images, video, and streaming media captured and sent by a 911 caller during an emergency incident.”

His thesis also discussed the concept of Next Generation 911 (NG911), which is “a nationwide initiative ‘that allows digital information (e.g., voice, photos, video, text messages) to flow seamlessly from the public, through the 911 network, and on to emergency responders’ and will provide this capability, and as a result, completely change the way in which emergency information is processed and disseminated to first responders.”

During the years since the publication of his thesis, DeMar said he has presented on IRI at a variety of local, state, regional, and national conferences. DeMar said, previously, many in the industry have had an “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” mentality, with only a few of the 6,000 or so 911 centers having started experimenting with IRI, and as a result, many challenges associated with operationalization remain.

Many 911 centers are also facing challenges with recruitment and retention, which can act as a disincentive for implementing new technologies such as IRI. However, he argued, it makes more sense to be proactive in implementing such improvements rather than waiting for a situation where the absence of modern technology and capacity leads to injury or loss of life, resulting in potential litigation and, ultimately, forced implementation.

Recently, DeMar said, there have been positive developments, including additional interest in the emergency communications industry regarding IRI, citations of his thesis research in academic publications, and by federal agencies such as the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA).

In addition, the National Emergency Number Association (NENA) has created an IRI Standard Development group, which DeMar is co-chairing. The IRI working group is tasked with developing administrative, operational, and technical policy for the handling of IRI in the nation’s 911 centers. DeMar said it will take the NENA working group about 12–18 months to produce its findings, a group which started meeting in February 2024. In the meantime, DeMar is scheduled to make a presentation on IRI at the Association’s National Conference this summer.

“I’m glad to say that in the seven years since I published [my thesis], the relevancy is still there,” DeMar said. “I think over the course of the next three to five years, you’re still going to see that [IRI] is a hot topic.”

DeMar said he is glad he “kicked the ball off and now other people are doing research in this area.” He added he is grateful to CHDS for the research opportunity afforded to him and for being able to bring an important operational initiative to the forefront of the emergency communications profession.

INQUIRIES: Heather Hollingsworth Issvoran, Communications and Recruitment | hissvora@nps.edu, 831-402-4672 (PST)

Scroll to Top