It’s Time to Upgrade 9-1-1, the Most Critical of Critical Infrastructure [Op-Ed]

Law enforcement, fire, EMS, and 9-1-1 professionals handle over 240 million emergency 9-1-1 calls per year. Our 9-1-1 system is the most critical of critical infrastructure – relied upon nationwide every day to obtain assistance in a variety of life-or-death situations. Unfortunately, 9-1-1 networks across the United States have not kept up with advances in communications technology and, in large part, are based upon technology dating back to the 1960s and limited to voice calls and some texting.

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March 18, 2021

Public Safety Next Generation 9-1-1 Coalition Launches Major Grassroots Campaign

On the heels of the introduction of important legislation to fund the modernization of the nation’s 9-1-1 systems to Next Generation 9-1-1, the Public Safety Next Generation 9-1-1 Coalition announces the launch of a wide-ranging grassroots campaign to educate policymakers and build additional support.

The Public Safety Next Generation 9-1-1 Coalition consists of national public safety associations representing law enforcement, fire, EMS, and 9-1-1 professionals who know best what is needed to modernize 9-1-1 and improve emergency response. The coalition’s website at http://www.ng-911coalition.org contains detailed information including facts and myths about NG9-1-1 legislation.

The Coalition helped develop and fully supports the Next Generation 9-1-1 legislation that was included in the LIFT America Act with the leadership of Representatives Frank Pallone and Anna Eshoo. The Coalition’s approach is to secure the best outcome for public safety professionals and the communities they serve as they carry out their life-saving missions. Accordingly, the Coalition believes that this legislation is deserving of widespread bipartisan support throughout Congress.

Unfortunately, some parties that disagree with the Coalition’s public safety-oriented principles are spreading misinformation about the legislation. Contrary to those opposed to the Coalition’s public safety focused approach, the NG9-1-1 legislation the Coalition supports will:

  • Not only build upon current investments but rescue public safety agencies from being left with overly costly, substandard, incomplete, and non-interoperable solutions. This includes ensuring that existing deployments can become interoperable with new implementations.
  • Ensure that technology standards prevalent in the consumer marketplace, and which have led to enormous innovation, interoperability, and economies of scale, are employed for NG9-1-1.
  • Ensure that other standards that vendors desire to use have the approval of a well-recognized standards development accreditation body. This is important for avoiding the use of one-off “standards” that result in proprietary and non-interoperable solutions.
  • Adhere to the cybersecurity protections for 9-1-1 recommended by an esteemed federal advisory committee. This consists of an efficient, distributed network of cybersecurity centers at state or regional levels serving multiple 9-1-1 centers.
  • Create a well-rounded, balanced, and efficient advisory board composed of a cross-section of public safety professionals to provide initial and ongoing expertise to the federal agency responsible for administering the grant program.
  • Not only preserve state and local control of NG9-1-1 operations but ensure that diverse local public safety input is fully accounted for in all NG9-1-1 plans and grant applications.

The Coalition is solely motivated by what is needed by public safety professionals as they carry out their missions to save and protect the public every day. The Coalition appreciates the federal commitment to fund the transition to NG9-1-1 and respects the need to ensure that federal funds are expended in the most efficient and cost-effective manner. Our grassroots effort will serve to express our support for the NG9-1-1 legislation, educate and, when necessary, dispel any misconceptions.

March 11, 2021 

Nationwide Public Safety Associations Hail Introduction of Next Generation 9-1-1 Act of 2021 as Part of the LIFT America Act

Under the leadership of the Honorable Frank Pallone Jr., Chairman, House Committee on Energy and Commerce and the Honorable Anna Eshoo, Co-Chair, Congressional NextGen9-1-1 Caucus,  the Next Generation 9-1-1 Act of 2021 has been introduced as part of the LIFT America Act.

The Public Safety Next Generation 9-1-1 Coalition applauds the introduction of the Next Generation 9-1-1 Act of 2021 as part of the LIFT America Act. The inclusion of Next Generation 9-1-1 in the legislation signals that Congress recognizes the critical importance of upgrading our nation’s outdated, underfunded  and technologically inadequate 911 infrastructure.

LIFT America Legislation

Public Safety Next Generation
9-1-1 Coalition

  • Diverse stakeholders representing public safety including fire service, emergency medical service, law enforcement, and 9-1-1 professionals.
  • United behind legislative principles that address the needs and concerns of public safety.
  • The Next Generation 9-1-1 Act of 2019 is the foundation upon which the Coalition will build.

First Principles of the Public Safety
NG9-1-1 Coalition:

  • NG9-1-1 should be technologically and competitively neutral, and use commonly accepted standards that do not lead to proprietary solutions that hamper interoperability, make mutual aid between agencies less effective, limit choices, or increase costs.
  • Development of program requirements, grant guidance, application criteria, and rules regarding NG9-1-1 grants should be guided by an advisory board of public safety practitioners and 9-1-1 professionals.
  • Sufficient funding in the amount of $15 billion to ensure NG9-1-1 is deployed throughout the country in an effective, innovative, and secure manner and to enable NG9-1-1 implementation training nationwide.
  • The process for allocating funds to localities should be efficient, federal overhead costs should be minimized, and grant conditions should not be onerous or extraneous and should be targeted to achieve important objectives including interoperability and sustainability.
  • Cybersecurity of NG9-1-1 systems should be a primary consideration.
  • Incentives for increased efficiency of NG9-1-1 functions, including through shared technology and regional collaboration, should be included.

Members of the Coalition Include:

  • Major Cities Chiefs Association (MCCA)
  • National Association of State EMS Officials (NASEMSO)
  • International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP)
  • Major County Sheriffs of America (MCSA)
  • International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC)
  • Association of Public Safety Communications Officials – International (APCO)
  • National Sheriffs’ Association
  • Metropolitan Fire Chiefs Association