DENVER — An FCC official today commended the Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials-International and the National Emergency Number Association for their recent announcement that they are working on next-generation 911 (NG-911) issues. “This is a welcome development,” David Furth, deputy chief of the FCC’s Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau, said this afternoon during a business meeting at the APCO 2017 show here. “No single agency or organization can have the impact alone that [two] can have working together.” He said that many “important 911 breakthroughs” have occurred as a result of the two groups working together, including on enhanced 911 Phase II, text to 911, and indoor 911 location accuracy.
Earlier this month, APCO and NENA released a joint statement (TR Daily, Aug. 4) that said top leaders of the groups had met recently and reached a consensus “for the need for all Next Generation 9-1-1 technologies to be both interoperable and interconnected including equipment currently described as NENA I3 ‘compliant’. The two associations also discussed and agreed on the need for federal funding to enable state and local governments to transition to Next Generation technologies as well as the need for consistent and transparent messaging concerning the current state of Next Generation 9-1-1 equipment offerings. It is anticipated that future joint communications concerning these topics will be forthcoming in the next 30 to 60 days.”
The statement was released in the wake of a clash between NENA and APCO earlier this year concerning NENA’s i3 standard (TR Daily, March 23).
In his remarks this afternoon, Mr. Furth also praised yesterday’s release by APCO of its Project 43 report that recommends a slew of actions by states, Congress, and others to help facilitate the deployment of NG-911 in the areas of governance, cybersecurity, operations, technology, training, and workforce issues (TR Daily, Aug. 14).
“Project 43 is a major achievement,” Mr. Furth said, adding that it shows “comprehensive vision.” In particular, he commended the report for urging the government to provide public safety answering points (PSAPs) with resources to transition to NG-911.
Also during this afternoon’s session, Ron Hewitt, director of the Office of Emergency Communications at the Department of Homeland Security, said that OEC plans to go on a “road show” with the National Governors Association to educate states on the importance of key public safety emergency communications issues in the wake of an NGA policy academy on emergency communications with five states (TR Daily, April 18).
At today’s business meeting, APCO member Tom Andross, director-communications for the Grafton County Sheriff’s Department in New Hampshire, criticized APCO for suggesting that opting out of the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) system was “a false choice,” noting that most states are still mulling a course of action. Mr. Andross noted in an interview afterward with TR Daily that his state has commissioned the development of an alternative plan in case it decides to opt out. “We present ourselves as a membership-driven organization, and it’s my understanding that this position [on FirstNet] comes from staff,” Mr. Andross said. —Paul Kirby, firstname.lastname@example.org