Industry Officials Press Need for NG 9-1-1 During House Hearing
Tuesday, April 11, 2017 | Comments
9-1-1 industry officials said they need help from Congress to ensure a timely transition to next-generation 9-1-1 (NG 9-1-1) technology during a House communications and technology subcommittee hearing March 29.

Trey Forgety, director of governmental affairs with the National Emergency Number Association (NENA), took advantage of the timing of the hearing — the same week the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) announced its contract award — to emphasize the needed partnership between the FirstNet network and NG 9-1-1, both of which will be based on IP technology.

“To bridge the gap between consumer networks and FirstNet, and to relieve the extreme burdens of legacy infrastructure maintenance, we must accelerate the transition to IP-based emergency services, and soon,” he said.

Steve Souder, former director of Fairfax County 9-1-1, Virginia, said a grant program in 1973 kick started the initial 9-1-1 system. “I would suggest to you that America’s 9-1-1 systems need another kick-start,” he said, referring to a grant program to fund the NG 9-1-1 transition. He also highlighted the negative impacts of 9-1-1 fee diversion and said Congress should establish an NG 9-1-1 grant program that would require no fee diversion.

“NENA is convinced that a one-time infusion of federal capital, coupled with an appropriate matching component at the state level, can significantly accelerate the transition, lowering the long-term costs of the transition for every level of government,” Forgety said.

Walt Magnussen, director, Internet2 Technology Evaluation Center (ITEC), Texas A&M University, highlighted the economies of scale that NG 9-1-1 technology will bring and the benefits of hosting NG 9-1-1 through a private cloud where officials can manage the security, reliability and resource sharing.

The witnesses said local control is imperative for 9-1-1, but a greater federal role from a national database to a national governance plan to ensure the states are integrated and moving forward is needed. The witnesses and lawmakers also discussed the importance of caller location technology.

“Realizing NG 9-1-1 services throughout the nation is critical, but as with any large-scale transition there are challenges that must be overcome,” said Rep. Marsha Blackburn, chairwoman of the subcommittee, during her opening statement. “Issues regarding such matters as funding, governance, ensuring the security of the network are but a few. The cost will be significant.”

Forgety said “there’s a lot to like” with the Senate’s draft NG 9-1-1 bill released last month. He said NENA would welcome an opportunity to work with the committee on legislation but “the clock is ticking.”

“The longer we wait, the costs are going up,” he said.



 
 
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