The Flint MI water crisis coming to light over the past year has captured the attention and fears of the nation. For me, it has also brought to mind an analogy directly related to the move toward FirstNet and NG911 and even the work being done to improve FEMA's Integrated Public Alert Warning System (IPAWS / WEA). The pipes in Flint continued to be able to pump water throughout the crisis. The pressure was fine. When you turned on a spout, water flowed out. The problem was with the usefulness of the liquid.
NG9-1-1 aims to create new system for handling calls for service. It promises to enable new forms of communication, better routing and transferring of emergency calls, and even allowing data to augment call handling and dispatching effectiveness. FirstNet aims to create a dedicated public safety broadband network, providing responders with the ability to access critical data and applications with the quality of service needed for public safety operations. The latest work being done on the IPAWs alerting system, looks to improve the targeting granularity of cell broadcast technology while also investigating how the permission to send alerts can be further delegated down to a broader set of authorized users.