APCO Highlights NG 9-1-1 Interoperability in Member Email
Friday, February 02, 2018 | Comments

An email from the president of the Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials (APCO) International to its members highlighted the association’s efforts to modernize 9-1-1 and ensure that equipment and services are interoperable. The email also suggested steps members can take to improve next-generation 9-1-1 (NG 9-1-1) interoperability.

“We believe that APCO’s advocacy for federal legislation, creating a shared vision of interoperability, and near-term opportunities to improve NG 9-1-1 deployments will gain additional traction in the months ahead,” the email said. “Above all, we must focus on achieving true interoperability, meaning PSAPs (public-safety answering points) are able to share information, including voice and multimedia data, in seamless fashion without the need for ‘add on’ components or additional costs to your agencies after making the transition to NG 9-1-1.”

APCO said bills in the House and Senate that call for an expansion of federal grant support to help state and local governments deploy interoperable NG 9-1-1 systems is a good sign. APCO in recent comments offered suggestions to the National 911 Office on how to use an existing but limited grant program to create models for interoperable NG 9-1-1 systems. Interoperability for NG 9-1-1 goes beyond IP connectivity and includes the equipment and services needed to enable PSAPs to process and share multiple forms of data.

APCO suggested steps its members can take to help impress interoperability needs on NG 9-1-1 equipment and service providers. APCO said members should consider asking the following questions when interacting with industry:
• Can you guarantee that our NG 9-1-1 solution and other IP-based equipment will be seamlessly interoperable with other solutions and equipment, including across state boundaries? For example, will our PSAP be able to transfer voice and multimedia data to any other PSAP that has a different provider’s equipment or service or is on a different network, including across jurisdictional boundaries?
• Can you guarantee that our NG 9-1-1 solution will be seamlessly interoperable with the networks that deliver 9-1-1 calls from the public wireless and wireline networks?
• Will you guarantee your solution to be interoperable without additional upgrades and new costs to the PSAP?
• Will your products be able to seamlessly share and exchange data with other companies’ products, without the need for special interfaces or additional costs?

“This isn’t an exhaustive list of questions, but it provides a good starting point for 9-1-1 professionals whose interest is in obtaining and implementing truly interoperable systems to serve the public,” said the letter from APCO President Martha Carter. “For PSAPs that have already executed contracts for NG 9-1-1 services and equipment, these questions can also help to begin addressing any lack of interoperability with existing or planned deployments.”

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On 2/7/18, Alan Henney said:
Why has it taken so long to get to this point?

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