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NENA's 911 Goes To Washington focuses on Next Generation 911

During yesterday's National Emergency Number Association's (NENA) 911 Goes to Washington conference, it was clear that the FCC's main goal is to promote and move forward with next-generation 911 (NG-911). Representatives from the FCC included David Furth, Patrick Donovan, and Jeff Goldthorp, all of whom took part in panel discussions on NG-911. Their sentiments were all the same: in order to build out a nationwide IP-based 911 system, the federal government needs to provide adequate funding. On top of this, all three parties ensured the group of local public safety answering point (PSAP) representatives (conference attendees) that a nationwide IP-based network is one of FCC Commissioner Julius Genachowski's main priorities for his term. While the FCC does not have the power to distribute funds for this effort, it is working diligently with agencies that do, such as the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Transportation. The FCC is also working alongside the Congressional 911 Caucus.

Donovan and Goldthorp also provided the group with an update on the recently closed notice of inquiry (NOI) regarding NG-911. Both could not disclose any future plans or rules that might result from the NOI, but stated that the responses were overwhelming and provide a solid framework for developing a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM). They stated that given the responses, it is clear that the FCC will need to expand its scope in better understanding the needs of PSAPs and other emergency responder agencies. In turn, this could possibly lead to additional NOIs for other IP-based network aspects, such as resiliency and reliability. The FCC estimated the first NPRM could be developed in a matter of months.

Donovan and Goldthorp also touched on the FCC's Communications Security, Reliability, and Interoperability Council (CSRIC), whose mission is to provide recommendations to the FCC to ensure optimal security and reliability of communications systems, including telecommunications, media, and public safety. The council will be releasing its findings on the FCC's website shortly, which will include additional recommendations on NG-911 along with findings related to IP networks. The FCC stated that it would like to work closer with state entities to ensure all stakeholders have a chance to voice their feeling and needs when it comes to IP communications.

GovWin's Take:

Recent evolution in personal communications has forced a subset of public safety services to think critically about how they can best serve citizens. PSAPs across the country are faced with an ever-expanding demand for additional capabilities when it comes to 911. Recognizing this fact, the FCC has made large strides to ensure that PSAPs meet the demands of their citizens. The next step is for vendors to heed the call and begin working with PSAPs and the FCC to help lay the framework for an easy transition to IP-enabled 911 services. It will be important for vendors to discuss with their clients how they can assist city and county PSAPs in preparing for an IP network. This could include hardware and software updates as well as inventorying and system architecture.

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