Congress Members Express Support for NG 9-1-1 Act in Letter to House Leaders
Friday, April 23, 2021 | Comments

The co-chairs of the Congressional Fire Services and Law Enforcement Caucuses sent a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy supporting the Next-Generation 9-1-1 Act of 2021.

The act, which is part of the Leading Infrastructure For Tomorrow’s America Act (LIFT America Act), would provide $15 billion in funding for next-generation 9-1-1 (NG 9-1-1) initiatives. The LIFT America Act was recently introduced into the U.S. House of Representatives.

The letter, which was signed by Reps. Bill Pascrell, Steny Hoyer, Mike Bost, Brian Fitzpatrick and John Rutherford, asked Pelosi and McCarthy to ensure that the NG 9-1-1 elements of the bill remain in any infrastructure package that the house votes on.

“This legislation will provide critical updates to our nation’s 9-1-1 infrastructure, protect it from cyber threats and ensure that first responders are able to efficiently use next-generation 9-1-1 technology to save lives,” the letter said. “We request the life-saving benefits of this legislation be realized by incorporating it into any infrastructure package considered by the House of Representatives.”

The representatives said in their letter that the bill would provide grants to ensure proper training for 9-1-1 telecommunicators on how to effectively parse and use the increased data and would enable interoperability across different jurisdictions. Additionally, as cyber attacks become frequent and sophisticated, security for NG 9-1-1 infrastructure is critical, the lawmakers said.

“The Nationwide Next Generation 9-1-1 Security Operations Center established by this legislation will provide this needed protection,” the letter said. “This center will carry out numerous functions that are essential to securing next-generation 9-1-1 infrastructure including identifying cybercriminals, vetting third parties that connect to the 9-1-1 system, providing local operations centers with layered security and sharing information and plans to mitigate and respond to cyberattacks.”

The representatives said that they were also glad that the legislation includes an NG 9-1-1 Advisory Board. That board would allow the government to consistently consult public safety stakeholders and ensure the NG 9-1-1 deployment is addressing the needs of different agencies.

“We thank you for your consideration of including this important bill in upcoming infrastructure legislation,” the letter said. “If enacted, the Next-Generation 9-1-1 Act will vastly improve first responders’ ability to assist our constituents and save lives. We look forward to working with you to move this critical legislation forward.”

Organizations such as the Association of Public Safety Communications Officials (APCO) International and the Public Safety Next Generation 9-1-1 Coalition have expressed support for the legislation for many of the reasons expressed by the representatives.

However, other public-safety organizations, such as the National Emergency Number Association (NENA), have expressed concern about some provisions of the bill. NENA said that certain elements of the bill could “complicate and delay NG 9-1-1 deployments, waste scarce federal resources and shift authority over 9-1-1 from states and localities to the federal government.”

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