911 Needs Help to Keep Up With Next Generation of Technology

Washington, D.C. – With advances in communications technology continuing to pose major challenges to America’s 911 system, the National Emergency Number Association (NENA) has launched a new initiative to help local emergency call centers keep up with the next generation of 911 needs and capabilities.

In a media briefing at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., NENA kicked off its Next Generation E9-1-1 Partner Program (NG E9-1-1), asking leaders of private industry to work with federal, state and local officials and NENA members in an ongoing process to update and improve the technical, operational and policy foundations of the nations’ 9-1-1 system. The program is organized into working groups that will set a year-to-year course for the vital work needed in 9-1-1 service, design, implementation, and policy.

About NENA’s NG E9-1-1 Program
As communications systems, devices and regulations have moved beyond the wireline telephone, so too have the technology, tools, and resources needed to receive and respond to calls of distress.

Less than 15 years ago, wireless telephones and Internet connections were scarce among average American consumers. Today’s mobile and “connected” consumers use an array of communications devices and systems that were unprecedented when the nation’s 9-1-1 system was developed 36 years ago. In recent years, NENA has advocated for policies and standards to ensure 9-1-1 works for wireless telephone users. Now, NENA’s leaders are looking forward again and working to make sure that 9-1-1 is factored into the technical design and policies governing the next generation of communications technologies.

NENA President McMurray said, “9-1-1 has a great amount of work to do in this era of consumer choice and convergent communications systems. However, with a membership and professional organization of mostly volunteers, NENA needs the leadership, participation and commitment of others to modernize the nation’s 9-1-1 system. NENA’s NG E9-1-1 program is an opportunity for those of us in public safety to incorporate new ideas, leadership and expertise into the 911 community.”

New Initiative Coincides with Congressional Action on E9-1-1
The launch of the NG E9-1-1 program occurred during the same week that the U.S. Senate is considering passage of S. 1250, the ENHANCE 911 Act (Ensuring Needed Help Arrives Near Callers Employing 911 Act), which is cosponsored by the bipartisan, bicameral Congressional E9-1-1 Caucus.

S.1250 would create a national E9-1-1 coordination office to address the challenges faced by local and state governments in providing E9-1-1 service. It also would provide needed financial assistance by establishing federal matching grants for E9-1-1 deployment and advancement.

H.R. 2898, the companion bill in the U.S. House of Representatives, passed unanimously in November 2003.

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