2004 NENA National Conference: A Charge to Members for the Challenges Ahead

Tampa, FL – The National Emergency Number Association (NENA) officially closed its national conference on June 18, following a week of focused attention on the needs of America’s 9-1-1 system.

Thousands of leaders gathered in Tampa this past week to discuss “The Future of 9-1-1”: to support and advance our nation’s emergency communications systems. During four days of sessions, briefings, meetings, and even Congressional testimony, 9-1-1 professionals from throughout the nation discussed hot topic issues to improve America’ 9-1-1 system, including:

  • Funding 9-1-1 Today and Well into the Future;
  • Voice over Internet-Protocol (VoIP) Challenges and Opportunities;
  • 9-1-1 Accessibility for All Americans;
  • The Improvement of Wireless Enhanced E9-1-1 Deployment;
  • Technical and Operational Standards for 9-1-1;
  • Training Emergency Call Center Professionals for New Century Needs;
  • Promoting Public Education and National Issues.

NENA is a non-profit educational organization dedicated to ensuring the benefits from a modern, ubiquitous E9-1-1 system. Such a system would be able to provide first responders with the location of any 9-1-1 caller, even those using non-traditional communications devices, saving precious time in sending assistance in an emergency.

“We have serious challenges that demand serious work. In the past year, we have focused on opportunities to plan today, for the 9-1-1 systems of tomorrow,” said Bill McMurray, the President of the Association for the 2004-2005 term. He added, “Our goal in the coming year is to continue bringing the 9-1-1 community together to meet these challenges, to deliver the 9-1-1 service the public expects.” Mr. McMurray was sworn into office on Wednesday night, following a day of tributes, Congressional testimony, and the call for leadership in improving the nation’s 9-1-1 system.

Congressional Testimony on VoIP
A highlight of activity this past week included NENA’s First Vice President, David F. Jones testifying before the United States Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee regarding “The VoIP Regulatory Freedom Act of 2004” (S 2281). As the leader in 9-1-1 technology discussions, NENA was asked to testify before Members on the importance and opportunities of integrating VoIP technologies and services with the nation’s 9-1-1 system.

Representing the Association and the 9-1-1 Industry, Mr. Jones was quick to state in his testimony that, “The ability to call for help in times of an emergency is not ‘voluntary’ – it’s mandatory.”

In Jones’ testimony he praised the work of Congressional E9-1-1 Caucus leaders in bringing awareness to Congress of 9-1-1 needs.

Speaking specifically about the work of Caucus Co-Chair Senator Conrad Burns (R-MT), he stated, “We cannot support the further fragmentation of 9-1-1. We recognize that consumer expectations for 9-1-1 are national and therefore require jurisdictional leadership and resources from the Federal Government. We have called for a national coordinating office as offered by Senator Burns S. 1250.”

The National NENA conference and testimony comes in the midst of major Congressional action on the 9-1-1 system. As Members of the Congressional E9-1-1 Caucus have introduced legislation that provides federal matching grants to states for 9-1-1 system upgrades through a national E9-1-1 Coordination Office within the Federal Government. NENA supports the pending legislation and is working with the sponsors and other Members of Congress to pass the legislation before the end of the 108th Congress.

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