Bringing 9-1-1 Into the 21st Century


FCC Chairman Genachowski announced that the FCC will “take steps to revolutionize America’s 9-1-1 system by harnessing the life-saving potential of text, photo, and video in emergencies.” He went on to highlight the increasing use of mobile phone technology and the shortcomings of our existing 9-1-1 system in terms of its ability to take advantage of “new technologies” such as text, video, photos and other data. The announcement highlighted the vision of NG9-1-1 as part of the National Broadband Plan.

We commend the yeoman’s effort that has been done by NENA, APCO and the industry to move the NG9-1-1 effort as well as the FCC for recognizing the monumental effort involved and helping spearhead the initiative. This is not about technology for technology’s sake. The real-life scenarios highlighted in both the Chairman’s speech as well as in the day-to-day operations of PSAPs across the country put an exclamation point on the need for the capabilities promised in NG9-1-1.

As an industry, our challenge is to keep our eye on these scenarios and focus on the highest value add steps. The risk of any project is to shoot for the perfect solution and never hit the target. We owe it to the public to improve the system sooner rather than later and in a manner that doesn’t bankrupt the system.

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