LAS VEGAS — Members of the Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials-International yesterday approved a resolution stressing the importance of seamless interoperability in next-generation 911 (NG-911) systems. The resolution also endorsed reconstituting the Public Safety Alliance of public safety groups to push for seamless NG-911 interoperability.
The National Sheriffs’ Association approved the same resolution at its conference in June, and APCO will urge the International Association of Chiefs of Police and International Association of Fire Chiefs to approve it as well at their upcoming conference.
APCO members approved the resolution on the first day of the APCO 2018 show here.
During a session here this morning, Jeff Cohen, APCO’s chief counsel and director-government relations, noted that rules released last week to award $110 million in federal NG-911 grants stress the importance of interoperability among systems (TR Daily, Aug. 3). “So that was good to see,” he said. However, he noted that the National Telecommunications and Information Administration and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration disagreed with APCO’s suggestion that grant funds go to proof of concept programs rather than each state and territory.
Mr. Cohen also noted that NG-911 legislation is pending in the House and Senate, and he stressed the importance of Congress providing a one-time injection of funding to help states and localities upgrade their systems for NG-911. He said “$10 billion and up” is needed for that purpose, and acknowledged the difficulty of securing funding from Congress.
“We’ve got to make our case,” he said. “We can’t have haves and have-nots around the country.”
“If we do it all at once, it could be done much more efficiently,” Mr. Cohen added of rolling out NG-911 systems at the same time.
Mr. Cohen also said that states issuing NG-911 requests for proposals (RFPs) should take an objectives-based approach, which he said will stress objectives such as interoperability over standards, convey what public safety needs, and encourage competition and innovation.
Mr. Cohen also noted that APCO and others in public safety are fighting efforts to reallocate the 4.9 gigahertz band for commercial use, an action he said would be “entirely unfair” given the need of public safety for the frequencies for ad hoc incident coverage or traffic offloading. Any sharing of the spectrum must occur only if it can be shown to be feasible without causing interference to public safety operations, he said. —Paul Kirby, firstname.lastname@example.org