Andy Seybold’s Public Safety Advocate, October 25, 2018

NG9-1-1, FirstNet, and LMR.  In early November, I will be at the International Wireless Communications Expo (IWCE) Critical Communications Conference in Chicago. On the second day, I will be moderating a panel entitled, “LTE’s Interoperability with LMR and 911.” All the panelists are subject-matter experts so I have an easy job as moderator. Preparing for this panel started me thinking about what should be the true goal of an end-to-end public safety communications system. Once Next-Generation 9-1-1 has been widely implemented and the Public Safety Answering Points (PSAPs) and dispatch centers have been upgraded, the result should be a near-flawless system from the time a citizen calls 9-1-1 to the last unit on the scene being released and the paperwork completed.

PSAPs or 9-1-1 centers today, in most places, are still voice-centric in nature. The goal of NG9-1-1 is to modernize their capabilities to include incoming text messages, pictures, and videos. These can then be processed, and if needed, sent on to the responding units over FirstNet so those responding will have a better understanding of the incident and/or any vehicles or people fleeing the scene. Unfortunately, NG9-1-1 is the last piece of the puzzle for several reasons. First, many states have and continue to “re-appropriate” funds earmarked for 9-1-1 from all of our phone bills, and when Congress passed the bill that created FirstNet and allocated $7 billion for the initial costs of FirstNet, it only allocated $115 million for NG9-1-1, which is not enough to ensure NG9-1-1 upgrades for all PSAPs and dispatch centers.
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