Moving Forward with Next Generation 9-1-1

I am encouraged by yesterday’s announcement by the FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski who unveiled a five-point plan to move the Nation onto the Next Generation of 9-1-1 (NG9-1-1). The vision of NG9-1-1 is to allow people to reach 9-1-1 over an IP-enabled network allowing voice, text, data, photos and video to be sent to the Public Safety Answering Points (PSAPs). NG9-1-1 will also allow seamless transferring of 9-1-1 calls during outages or catastrophic events. We have been collaborating with the FCC on several projects and we were fortunate to have David Furth, FCC’s Deputy Bureau Chief for Public Safety and Homeland Security come to California to participate in a Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation and Technology Agency co-sponsored Public Safety Technology Conference last March. During that time David and I were able to discuss NG9-1-1 in California and ways we can work together as we transition to NG9-1-1.

The California Technology Agency began moving the State toward NG9-1-1 and in the last year has made major progress by releasing the California 9-1-1 Strategic Plan in July 2010; releasing the Proposed California NG9-1-1 Roadmap in December 2010; and recently completed the report on NG9-1-1 Public Meetings which were held statewide in February and March 2011. I am pleased to announce that California has already making progress in the FCC’s five-point plan released yesterday:
1. Develop location accuracy mechanisms for NG911:
The California Technology Agency received a Federal grant in 2009 with a project goal of an Internet Protocol (IP)-enabled network used to identify the location of wireless 9-1-1 callers based on geographic coordinates of latitude and longitude (commonly referred to as “X-Y” routing). The IP-enabled network will quickly and efficiently route wireless 9-1-1 calls to the correct PSAP the first time. The grant project covers 13 counties and 37 PSAPS in Northeastern California. At this point in time, there are five PSAPs connected to an IP-enabled network and the proof of concept should be completed by September 2012. We will continue collaborations with the FCC on this project as the success of this grant funded project and data obtained will assist in the development of location accuracy mechanisms for NG9-1-1.
2. Enable consumers to send text, photos and videos to public safety answering points:
The California Technology Agency is in the process of issuing a contract to begin Public Education and Awareness for moving the State to NG9-1-1. Education awareness is the first step to the success of taking a legacy 9-1-1 system to an IP-enabled network as the new system will most likely transition through the state due to the diverse geography and topology of California. In addition, while the purpose of the Federal grant project is to route calls based on geographic coordinates of latitude and longitude, this project will also provide the infrastructure necessary for the State to begin testing the ability to send text, photos and videos to PSAPs. A report will be published with the findings at the end of the grant project. We will work closely with the FCC throughout the project as findings will provide assistance to examine interim and long term solutions for ensuring that carriers/service providers support transmission of text-to-911.
3. Facilitate the completion and implementation of NG911 technical standards:
The State has established enterprise standards in the areas of Telematics and Voice-over-IP to ensure consistency within the 9-1-1 system. With over 463 PSAPs, we recognize the need to collaborate with the FCC, stakeholders, and industry to develop statewide technical and operational standards as we move to a more interconnected environment. California utilizes a Technology Workgroup made up of representatives from the CA 9-1-1 Division, State 9-1-1 Advisory Board, California Highway Patrol, and 9-1-1 County Coordinators, to review, evaluate, and address issues regarding new/emerging technologies. In addition, California has four other NG9-1-1 projects to assist the State in developing those standards necessary to modernize the 9-1-1 system including governance.
4. Develop a NG911 governance framework:
California has an eleven member State 9-1-1 Advisory Board that was statutorily enacted in 2005 to provide the State advice and guidance on 9-1-1 policy issues. This board has representation from the State’s police chiefs, sheriffs, fire chiefs, Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials (APCO) and California National Emergency Number Association (CalNENA) which spans most of the core 9-1-1 stakeholders. This board will assist the State in developing the State’s 9-1-1 governance framework and ensure governance alignment at the national level. As a result of the information obtained through the statewide public meetings, the Technology Agency will also convene several focus groups to begin examining specific NG9-1-1 topics.
Develop a NG911 funding model:
California’s 9-1-1 network is currently funded through the State Emergency Telephone Number Account (SETNA). This account was statutorily enacted in 1976 and provides network funding to the State’s 463 Public Safety Answering Points. Through the proposed California NG9-1-1 Roadmap and public meeting process, the Technology Agency has nearly completed its Rough Order of Magnitude Cost Estimate Model for NG9-1-1 in California. With the development of the cost model and our current 9-1-1 network funding through SETNA, California is collaborating with the FCC in the development of the NG9-1-1 funding model.