APCO Official Requests Congressional NG 9-1-1 Support During Hearing
Monday, December 17, 2018 | Comments

An Association of Public Safety Communications Officials (APCO) International executive asked Congress for support to achieve nationwide next-generation 9-1-1 (NG 9-1-1).

“While some areas are making progress on their own, there is not a single complete NG 9-1-1 system anywhere in the country, and we are concerned that present efforts are not on track to provide the capabilities public safety needs, such as seamless interoperability,” said Jeff Cohen, APCO chief counsel and director of government relations during a Dec. 11 House hearing. “Without congressional support for this most critical of the nation’s critical infrastructure, bringing 9-1-1 into the 21st century with interoperable IP-based systems will take significantly more time, be more expensive, and likely will not happen at all in some parts of the United States.”

The House subcommittee on communications and technology hearing where Cohen testified examined the implementation of the RAY BAUM'S Act.

Cohen praised the new legislation for helping 9-1-1 dispatchers track down a dispatchable location for multiline telephone system (MLTS) and for boosting communications resiliency.

However, he expressed concern regarding introducing new operations into spectrum bands used by public safety. “Our community is extremely wary of new spectrum use in bands used by public safety, given the long, difficult history of interference to mission-critical communications,” Cohen said. “At the same time, we have expressed openness to modern spectrum sharing techniques, provided that any sharing mechanism is proven in advance to protect incumbent and future public-safety operations.”

He also said the public-safety industry needs a confidential contact database for carriers to use in the event outages could impact 9-1-1 communications, a provision that didn’t become law. Emergency communications centers also need real-time situational awareness of network outages in a format that can be integrated with 9-1-1 equipment, Cohen said.

Cohen also used the hearing to ask that 9-1-1 professionals be re-classified from the current “office and administrative support occupations” to a classification similar to other first responders by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB).

Cohen’s full testimony is here.

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