The Call - Winter 2017 - 5


Fifty Years and
Moving Forward
Brian Fontes
NENA Chief
Executive Officer

On February 16, 2018, we celebrated
the fiftieth anniversary of the first 9-1-1
call in the United States. Articles in
this edition of The Call highlight and
celebrate the incredible history of 9-1-1.
It is hard to assess the monumental
contribution 9-1-1 has made to saving
lives and helping those in need over
the past five decades. However, the
Federal Communications Commission
has estimated that 10,000 lives could
be saved each year if the emergency
dispatching system (9-1-1) could get help
one minute sooner to those calling for
emergency assistance. With that statistic
in mind, I believe that as we celebrate the
fiftieth anniversary of that first 9-1-1 call
made in Haleyville, Alabama, we must
also recommit to improving our nation's
9-1-1 systems.
What should be the key goals,
components, and metrics of our renewed
efforts to strengthen 9-1-1 in the
21st century? Certainly, the end goal is
better service to the public when they
need it the most. Ensuring 9-1-1 calls are
routed to the geographically appropriate
9-1-1 center and that accurate caller
location information - regardless of where
the call is coming from - is provided to the
call taker would go a long way towards
providing better help more quickly.
As the role of the 9-1-1 center and
those professionals who work therein
evolves, perhaps the associated
nomenclature will change as well. We
may very well see Emergency Response
Operations Centers (EROCs) staffed by

Emergency Response Specialists pushing
and pulling data and coordinating efforts
with field responders over interoperable
networks like NG9-1-1 and FirstNet. The
days of siloed communications are over,
and the next fifty years will only see
more information-rich communications
with the EROC as the hub of it all, no
matter how the request for service
enters the center, or how the response
is mobilized.
All public safety practitioners
will be affected by the increase of
information associated with any 9-1-1
call. Consumers' communications with
9-1-1 will be one source of data, while
the ability to tap into other databases
pertinent to each 9-1-1 call will help
9-1-1 professionals deliver the most
appropriate response to the 9-1-1 caller
(or texter, or app user). While data and
computer- and human-assisted analytics
have significant lifesaving implications,
we will need to reconsider and revisit
data retention policies associated
with 9-1-1 calls, as well as the training
necessary for 9-1-1 professionals to work
in a data-centric 9-1-1 world.
Changes in systems capable of
delivering information associated
with 9-1-1 calls, as well as "traditional
delivery" networks themselves, will
be forced to change in order to keep
pace with the evolution - perhaps
even revolution - in technology.
These changes in technology have
implications on all aspects of 9-1-1
service including one that cannot be
overlooked: public policy. As history
has proven, technology advances more
quickly than public policy. Will the
changes in networks and information
systems enabling better location,
routing, data flows, etc., be enabled
or harmed by regulations? This will
be a challenge. Whenever there are

public policy proceedings there is
usually uncertainty and delay, which
can negatively affect market decisions,
including investment in 9-1-1.
As we move into the next fifty years,
federal funding for Next Generation
9-1-1 would be a substantial boost
to improving service to the public
nationwide. Efforts will be made to move
legislation forward. At this moment,
there are bills in both the House and
Senate, but there is much work to be
done before a signed bill that would
meet NG9-1-1's funding needs becomes
law of the land.
Finally, work continues on getting
Next Generation 9-1-1 deployed at
the regional and state levels. The
foundation for these efforts is NENA's
i3 standard. The i3 architecture is used
in the overwhelming number NG9-1-1
plans in the U.S., as well as in Canada's
nationwide plan and the overall
European approach to NG systems.
However, i3, and all other NG-related
standards must be living documents
that continue to evolve. We have seen
how static and inflexible systems have
led to the challenges we face today. We
must ensure that Next Generation 9-1-1
is flexible, adaptable, and resilient in
ways that E9-1-1 is not if we want 9-1-1
to keep pace with what technology
will make possible over the next
five decades.
As we move into the next fifty years of
9-1-1, let's go forward with the conviction
of our past and serve the public in
new and innovative ways. Renew
your commitment to the profession
and engage in shaping the future of
emergency communications so that the
9-1-1 professionals of 2068 are able to
look back to us as the ones who fulfilled
9-1-1's promise.  ●

Read the digital edition at


Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of The Call - Winter 2017

President’s Message
From the CEO
The Leaders of 9-1-1 and Its Inception
Government Affairs
50 Years: 9-1-1 Grounded in Public Policy
The History of 9-1-1
Education & Training
Tech Trends
Products and Services Guide
Index to Advertisers/
The Call - Winter 2017 - Intro
The Call - Winter 2017 - cover1
The Call - Winter 2017 - cover2
The Call - Winter 2017 - 3
The Call - Winter 2017 - President’s Message
The Call - Winter 2017 - From the CEO
The Call - Winter 2017 - The Leaders of 9-1-1 and Its Inception
The Call - Winter 2017 - 7
The Call - Winter 2017 - 8
The Call - Winter 2017 - 9
The Call - Winter 2017 - 10
The Call - Winter 2017 - 11
The Call - Winter 2017 - Government Affairs
The Call - Winter 2017 - 50 Years: 9-1-1 Grounded in Public Policy
The Call - Winter 2017 - 14
The Call - Winter 2017 - 15
The Call - Winter 2017 - 16
The Call - Winter 2017 - Operations
The Call - Winter 2017 - 18
The Call - Winter 2017 - The History of 9-1-1
The Call - Winter 2017 - Education & Training
The Call - Winter 2017 - Tech Trends
The Call - Winter 2017 - Products and Services Guide
The Call - Winter 2017 - Index to Advertisers/
The Call - Winter 2017 - cover4