PSAP Architecture Task Force Delaying Action on Final Report

The FCC’s Task Force on Optimal PSAP Architecture (TFOPA) will likely postpone the vote on its final report beyond its Sept. 29 meeting, at which it was slated to act, but it will aim to finalize its report before year-end. During today’s TFOPA meeting, David Simpson, chief of the FCC’s Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau, said, “We are at an inflection point where the changes in technology happening around us really should galvanize us to action, making sure that we don’t wind up with a relic of a 911 system.”

The task force heard updates from its three working groups on optimal resource allocation and budgeting for PSAPs, on optimal approaches to next-generation 911 architecture implementation, and on cybersecurity and next-generation systems.

The chair of the cybersecurity and next-generation systems group, Jay English, who is director-communications center and 911 services at the Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials-International, said the only way to ensure cybersecurity is to “segregate” the PSAP network, meaning that PSAPs could “never have a next-generation network.”

“We will not build an indestructible or impenetrable network,” Mr. English said.  The group has a draft document in progress, he said, addressing “what is the cyber risk and how do we handle it.”

 As the meeting wrapped up, Steve Souder of the Department of Public Safety Communications (9-1-1 Center) in Fairfax County, Va., said that it has become clear “more time is required to produce the product that you charged us to do.  How much time is difficult to say.”

After some discussion with the working group chairs, the task force set plans for the working groups to present their reports at the Sept. 29.  But a final vote “will occur sometime after that, and I would prefer sometime before the end of calendar year 2015,” Mr. Souder said.  —Brian Hammond,