NENA, NASNA Express Concerns About Portions of NG 9-1-1 Funding Bill
Wednesday, March 24, 2021 | Comments

The National Emergency Number Association (NENA) and the National Association of State 9-1-1 Administrators (NASNA) sent a letter to the House Energy and Commerce Committee expressing concern about some provisions related to next-generation 9-1-1 (NG 9-1-1) funding in an infrastructure bill.

Earlier this month, members of the committee introduced the Leading Infrastructure for Tomorrow’s America Act (LIFT America Act), which includes $15 billion in NG 9-1-1 funding.

“We strongly support Congressional efforts to make the investments necessary to ensure an advanced and secure emergency communications infrastructure,” the two groups said in their letter. “NASNA and NENA support these important objectives but believe they would be undermined by some of the act’s provisions. Congress must act to rectify the following provisions or risk compromising NG 9-1-1 for many years ahead.”

First, the groups took issue with the act creating a new program within the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to develop NG 9-1-1 standards and technology. NENA and NASNA argued that such an action was unnecessary because there is already widespread support for NENA’s i3 standard, which it said is consensus-based and used in many ongoing state NG 9-1-1 projects.

“The prospect of new federal standards would create uncertainties in those projects and could strand billions of dollars in current state investments,” the organizations said in a press release.

The groups also argued that the bill’s language on interoperability is imprecise and could block funds from being used to help transition to NG 9-1-1 systems.

Next, the groups argued that the 9-1-1 cybersecurity solution outlined in the act would undermine state and local control of their 9-1-1 systems; create new privacy, technical and legal challenges to NG 9-1-1 implementations; and impose additional costs to organizations.

Finally, the groups said they do not believe that the act needs to create a new NG 9-1-1 Advisory Board as the act proposes. If such a board is created, its role should be limited in time and scope and should not be exempted from the Federal Advisory Committee Act.

“The infrastructure bill is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to fix the cracks in the foundation of all public-safety response: America’s 9-1-1 systems,” said NENA CEO Brian Fontes. “It is essential that we get it right. NENA is eager to work with Congress and the Biden administration to adopt workable solutions to our 9-1-1 infrastructure problems.”

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