The Call - Winter 2016 - 9


America's 9‑1‑1 Infrastructure
is Showing Cracks, Too
The following op-ed has been sent to a number
of national newspapers to raise awareness of the
challenges facing 9-1-1. Help signal-boost the
message by downloading a copy at
and submitting it to your local paper(s) under
your signature. If you have any questions, contact
NENA's Communications Director, Chris Nussman,
Brian Fontes
NENA Chief
Executive Officer

Throughout the presidential campaign and now
in office, the Trump‑Pence team has emphasized
the need to boost investment in our country's
critical infrastructure and called for increased
efforts to keep Americans safe. The nexus of these
priorities is our nation's 9‑1‑1 system. Just like many
of our roads and bridges, 9‑1‑1 is showing its age;
its capabilities are stretched to the limit and the
system requires urgent attention and investment if
it is to meet the needs of public safety professionals
and citizens alike in the digital age.
Every day, America's 9‑1‑1 centers answer
more than 650,000 emergency calls. That's more
than 240 million callers per year, reaching out
for help in some of the most stressful situations
imaginable. Perhaps it has been you or someone
you know.
On the other end of the line, the community's
first responders are there 24/7 responding to the
9‑1‑1 calls, keeping us calm, and coordinating the
field responders' emergency response.
Citizens tend to take the 9‑1‑1 system for
granted, expecting it to work flawlessly at all
times. And most of the time it does.
But technology is changing, and our nation's
9‑1‑1 systems are being left behind. At a time
when Americans are using smartphones,
broadband Internet, and helpful apps to send
staggering amounts of data, texts, photos,
and videos, our 9‑1‑1 systems are still using
last‑generation, voice‑centric technology, with
the exception of some centers now capable of
receiving text messages. Telecom companies are
moving to Internet‑Protocol‑based networks, and
the federal government's FirstNet authority is
developing a wireless IP broadband network for
public safety field responders.

Meanwhile, our 9‑1‑1 centers are becoming
the weakest link in the chain, without any
national commitment or process in place to
modernize them.
Next Generation 9‑1‑1 (NG911) systems will be
faster, more flexible, resilient, secure, and scalable.
Callers will be able to send text messages and
transmit photos, videos, and other forms of data to
9‑1‑1 centers, and call takers will be able to better
coordinate responses. For example, a caller could
send streaming video from a hit and run, or photos
of suspects from a crime scene, or personal medical
data about a deadly allergy-all of which would
improve the 9‑1‑1 center's ability to assist.
The transfer and routing of 9‑1‑1 calls will be
much more efficient as well. In a NG911 system,
9‑1‑1 professionals will have the ability to transfer
calls and associated data to other jurisdictions
in the event of disasters, service outages, or
misrouted calls. More than just "call centers,"
next generation facilities will become integrated
operations centers. NG911 also would more
effectively withstand cyberattacks, share data
with field responders, and locate wireless callers.
However, the nationwide transition to NG911 is
proving difficult for several reasons.
Inadequate, fragmented leadership and
policy. Because 9‑1‑1 systems operated by local,
county, regional or state authorities, a nationwide
deployment of NG911 depends on educating,
motivating and coordinating thousands of leaders
at all levels. The federal government can and
should be involved because public safety threats
routinely cross state boundaries, and all Americans
expect high‑performing 9‑1‑1 services, no matter
where they happen to live, work, or travel.
Inadequate funding. The traditional revenue
stream for 9‑1‑1 - state and local fees on landline
phone service - has shrunk as more than half of
U.S. households have gone wireless‑only. Making
matters worse, states often redirect the 9‑1‑1
fees they do collect to other purposes. Nearly
$250 million was siphoned away in 2014, according
to the Federal Communications Commission.
Continued on page 18

Read the digital edition at‑nxt/


Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of The Call - Winter 2016

President’s Message
From the CEO
Failing to Plan is Planning to Fail: The Gatlinburg Fires
Government Affairs
10 Best Practices to Improve Your 9-1-1 Quality Assurance Program
Tech Trends
NENA Helps Bring Disability Awareness Training to the Forefront
Educational and Operational Issues
Public Safety Product and Service Buyer’s Guide
Index to Advertisers/
The Call - Winter 2016 - cover1
The Call - Winter 2016 - cover2
The Call - Winter 2016 - 3
The Call - Winter 2016 - 4
The Call - Winter 2016 - 5
The Call - Winter 2016 - 6
The Call - Winter 2016 - 7
The Call - Winter 2016 - President’s Message
The Call - Winter 2016 - From the CEO
The Call - Winter 2016 - Failing to Plan is Planning to Fail: The Gatlinburg Fires
The Call - Winter 2016 - 11
The Call - Winter 2016 - 12
The Call - Winter 2016 - Government Affairs
The Call - Winter 2016 - 10 Best Practices to Improve Your 9-1-1 Quality Assurance Program
The Call - Winter 2016 - 15
The Call - Winter 2016 - 16
The Call - Winter 2016 - 17
The Call - Winter 2016 - 18
The Call - Winter 2016 - Tech Trends
The Call - Winter 2016 - NENA Helps Bring Disability Awareness Training to the Forefront
The Call - Winter 2016 - 21
The Call - Winter 2016 - 22
The Call - Winter 2016 - Operations
The Call - Winter 2016 - Educational and Operational Issues
The Call - Winter 2016 - 25
The Call - Winter 2016 - Public Safety Product and Service Buyer’s Guide
The Call - Winter 2016 - 27
The Call - Winter 2016 - 28
The Call - Winter 2016 - 29
The Call - Winter 2016 - 30
The Call - Winter 2016 - 31
The Call - Winter 2016 - 32
The Call - Winter 2016 - 33
The Call - Winter 2016 - Index to Advertisers/
The Call - Winter 2016 - cover3
The Call - Winter 2016 - cover4