Recent tragic events in the United States and elsewhere clearly demonstrate the need for high quality communications services to assist public safety and disaster relief agencies in minimizing risk to human life and property and to cover the necessary general public information and communication needs in such situations.

Significant activity in relation to public safety and disaster relief activities is currently being undertaken in a range of national, regional and international bodies.

Many of the topics studied apply not only to networks and services design for dedicated public emergency services but to any critical network infrastructure, notably the telephone system (public switched telephone network, integrated services digital network and public land mobile network), multimedia networks, broadcasting networks, and the physical backbones that enable both the telephone and data networks, including the Internet.

Included are also considerations on how to allow authorized users to have priority access to the remaining network assets during crisis situations when normal communications facilities are restricted due to physical damage, equipment failure, congestion or other faults.

Recent resolutions in bodies such as the ITU Telecommunication Standards Advisory Group (TSAG), the Global Telecommunications Standards Collaboration (GTSC), the Asia-Pacific Standardization Program (ASTAP) and various ETSI Technical Bodies (in relation to work on Next Generation Networks) highlight the need for a coordinated approach to emergency communications.