Coalition Urges Congress to Allocate NG-911 Funds

February 27, 2017–Representatives of the NG911 NOW Coalition stressed today the importance of pressing Congress to pass legislation to allocate significant new funding to help assist in the deployment of next-generation 911 (NG-911) services. Since the coalition, which is pushing for nationwide NG-911 deployment by the end of 2020, was established last year (TRDaily, Feb. 23, 2016), representatives have met with a variety of stakeholders to garner support for the cause, including groups representing governors, state legislatures, cities, and counties, others in public safety, and disability advocates.

The National Emergency Number Association (NENA), the National Association of State 911 Administrators (NASNA), and the Industry Council for Emergency Response Technologies (iCERT) are the founders of the coalition. The past year has been focused on “building of the ground support,” Brian Fontes, chief executive officer of NENA, said at the group’s 911 Goes to Washington event today. He and Trey Forgety, NENA’s director-government affairs, said that the response from various stakeholders to the goal of the coalition has been positive.

Coalition representatives today advised attendees on how to make the case to members of Congress and their aides for NG-911 funding during their visit to Washington this week. “Our goal is to ensure there is legislation, or at least funding that can be used through existing structures, to enable the deployment of next-generation 911 nationwide,” Mr. Fontes said.

While additional funding is important, Don Brittingham, vice president-public safety policy for Verizon Communications, Inc., and vice chairman of iCERT, said that “it’s not the only issue that needs to be addressed, and we wanted to make sure that we were looking carefully at all of the issues.”

He noted that the coalition last summer released a report proposing actions that can be taken to address gaps to nationwide NG-911 deployment in the areas of governance, funding, technology, operations, and education (TRDaily, June 13, 2016). He also said that while most people understand the importance of 911 services, it is important to convey the “urgency” of ensuring that legacy 911 networks are upgraded as other networks move to IP technologies. “It needs to evolve with the rest of our society,” he said.

Mr. Brittingham also said there is a need for “shared leadership” at the federal, state, and local levels on NG-911 deployment. – Paul Kirby, paul.kirby@wolterskluwer.com