Groups Offer Feedback on $115M 9-1-1 Grant Program
Friday, November 10, 2017 | Comments

Several entities filed comments in the Department of Transportation's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the U.S. Commerce Department's National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) request for feedback about regulations for the 911 Grant Program. The program will offer $115 million in grant funds intended to help states and local jurisdictions upgrade their 9-1-1 call centers and systems to next-generation 9-1-1 (NG 9-1-1) capabilities.

The Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials (APCO) International recommended that the National 911 Office use the grants to create model deployments that demonstrate proofs of concept for fully deployed and interoperable NG 9-1-1 services in urban, suburban and rural areas. In this way, the grant program can better serve the entire country by producing blueprints for efficiently modernizing 9-1-1 systems nationwide, the association said.

APCO stressed that interoperability should be the top priority for the grant program. Interoperability means that public-safety answering points (PSAPs) can seamlessly receive calls and related data from network service providers, share calls and related data among connecting emergency services IP networks (ESInets) including across state boundaries, and hand off calls and related data with each other, regardless of call-handling or CAD solutions and without the need for specialized interfaces. As one strategy, the National 911 Office could solicit proposals demonstrating interoperability among adjacent jurisdictions using different vendors and system designs.

APCO also suggested that because technology is increasingly creating opportunities for new approaches to designing NG 9-1-1 systems, the National 911 Office should encourage forward-thinking solutions, even if the proposals deviate from traditional approaches to NG 9-1-1 network architectures.

In its comments, Motorola Solutions said the grant rules should remain flexible to keep up with innovation. Motorola also said the agencies should maintain their one-step application process rather than moving to a two-step application process. The company said the federal groups should move quickly to adopt the grant regulations and distribute the funds.

Daniel Ramirez said having the states apply for the grant funding and then disbursing it to tribal organizations has flaws. Tribal organizations should be allowed to apply just as the states. “I believe the tribal 9-1-1 coordinator and state coordinator can work together instead of the state coordinator having more power over the policies and distribution of grant funding,” his comments said.

Three entities posted comments anonymously. Annabel Cortez and Carbyne Public Safety Systems also filed comments.

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