What the Next Gen 9-1-1 Act of 2017 Means to Public Safety Agencies
On November 2, 2017 Senators Bill Nelson and Amy Klobuchar of Florida and Minnesota respectively, introduced a bill to advance the adoption of Next Generation 9-1-1 (NG 9-1-1) technology across the country. The bill entitled “Next Generation 9-1-1 Act of 2017” states that efforts to modernize 9-1-1 to date have been limited by lack of funds and inconsistent or unclear policies, and calls for a nationwide strategy to guide the deployment of NG 9-1-1. This legislation raises many questions. What exactly does NG 9-1-1 technology refer to? Should this bill be passed into law in its current state, what would it mean to public safety agencies? What can public safety agencies do today to prepare to deploy NG 9-1-1 technology in the future?
In general, NG 9-1-1 is an initiative that seeks to bring 9-1-1 infrastructure in line with advancements in wireless mobile technology and enables the public to send text messages, images, video and data to emergency communications centers. The NG 9-1-1 Act of 2017 suggests broadening this definition to cover systems based on various internet protocols, include support for all forms of emergency communications technologies, ensure seamless interoperability, incorporate the need for cybersecurity measures and include support for geographic information systems.
Should the NG 9-1-1 Act of 2017 be passed into law, public safety agencies may expect to see an increase in federal grants supporting NG 9-1-1 deployments. That said, there may be additional requirements placed on grant applicants including developing a statewide plan for the deployment of NG 9-1-1, ensuring NG 9-1-1 services are interoperable with FirstNet and coordinated with neighboring states, and developing a plan for public outreach and ensuring grant funds are solely used for NG 9-1-1 purposes, among other requirements. The bill also softens previously enacted fund matching requirements, extends the existing NG 9-1-1 grant program and allows recipients to retain a portion of funds for administrative and planning expenses.
In addition, public safety agencies can expect the rise of non-monetary resources such as the creation of a clearinghouse of NG 9-1-1 information for federal, state and local entities, guidance on NG 9-1-1 governance, network deployment and funding and potential procurement support through the General Services Administration, as well as the publication of research on cybersecurity and PSAP resiliency during natural disasters.
The development of NG 9-1-1 standards has been an ongoing for several years. This Act calls for the complete, nationwide transition to NG 9-1-1 “as soon as practical” with the goal of full implementation within ten years of enactment. To take advantage of upcoming grant opportunities and emerging NG 9-1-1 technology, public safety agencies can take the following steps:
Initiate NG 9-1-1 strategic planning initiatives at the statewide level and with neighboring communities
Develop an agency-specific NG 9-1-1 strategy that includes a needs assessment, a detailed requirements development process and a preliminary implementation plan
Identify grant writing resources and begin tracking potential grant opportunities
Identify potential funding streams for any required grant matches
DELTAWRX routinely assists public safety agencies with strategic planning initiatives and technology and application software procurements. For more information about how we can help your agency take advantage of upcoming NG 9-1-1 opportunities, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com. Follow the progress of this bill here.