Safeguarding Public Safety: DNS Rerouting as a Resilience Tool for PSAPs During Internet Downtime

By Paresh Patel, Carbyne CISO

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Introduction

In our digitally driven world, public safety hinges on the rapid, reliable transmission of critical information to the right responders at the right time. Yet, the Internet, which plays a pivotal role in this exchange, is not immune to disruptions. In this era of emergency services, Public Safety Answering Points (PSAPs) must remain vigilant in the face of Internet downtime, as even brief outages can have life-altering consequences. Fortunately, a lifeline exists in the form of Domain Name System (DNS) rerouting, an innovative technology that can help PSAPs overcome the unique challenges posed by Internet disruptions. In this article, we’ll explore what DNS rerouting entails and how it can be an essential asset to PSAPs during critical moments when the Internet goes down.

What is DNS Rerouting?

The Domain Name System (DNS) is the fundamental architecture underpinning the Internet, translating human-readable domain names into IP addresses. DNS rerouting is the practice of redirecting network traffic to an alternative IP address when the primary server becomes unreachable. This redirection can be enacted manually or automatically, depending on the situation.

The Challenges of Internet Downtime for PSAPs

Before we delve into the utility of DNS rerouting for PSAPs, it’s important to appreciate the unique challenges these organizations face during Internet outages:

Emergency Response Delays: Internet downtime can lead to delayed emergency responses, making it imperative for PSAPs to have a backup plan in place.

Loss of Communication Channels: Disruptions in Internet connectivity can lead to a loss of critical communication channels, making it difficult for first responders to coordinate and share vital information.

Data Retrieval Issues: In emergency situations, immediate access to critical databases and information is paramount. Internet outages can result in an inability to retrieve crucial data.

How DNS Rerouting Can Aid PSAPs

DNS rerouting offers a robust solution to these challenges by enabling PSAPs to redirect traffic to backup servers or resources when their primary servers are rendered unreachable. Here’s how it operates:

DNS Records Configuration: PSAPs configure their DNS records to include failover options. These records guide incoming requests to secondary or backup servers that can be relied upon when the primary server becomes inaccessible.

Continuous Monitoring: DNS rerouting services vigilantly monitor the availability of the primary server. Upon detecting a failure, they swiftly update DNS records to reroute traffic to the designated backup server.

Seamless Traffic Diversion: Incoming requests are seamlessly directed to the backup server, ensuring that PSAPs continue to operate effectively, even during Internet downtime.

Benefits of DNS Rerouting for PSAPs During Internet Downtime

Uninterrupted Emergency Response: DNS rerouting helps PSAPs maintain their accessibility, offering uninterrupted service during Internet outages to swiftly respond to emergencies.

Enhanced Data Redundancy: Configuring DNS to point to backup servers allows PSAPs to maintain data redundancy, reducing the risk of losing critical information during Internet disruptions.

Heightened Resilience: DNS rerouting bolsters the overall resilience of PSAPs. It is a proactive strategy for addressing outages and minimizing service interruptions during crucial moments.

Superior Disaster Recovery: DNS rerouting is an integral component of a comprehensive disaster recovery plan for PSAPs, ensuring that they remain operational when unforeseen circumstances affect Internet connectivity.

Conclusion

By implementing an advanced DNS management system, PSAPs can reroute calls in potentially under a minute during network emergencies. This prevents service interruptions and provides citizens with confidence that 911 will remain available. As NG911 usage expands, proactive resilience measures like DNS rerouting will become essential to ensuring the highest levels of emergency response reliability. Public safety organizations that leverage this capability will be better prepared to maintain 24/7 operability – even when faced with internet instability.

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