Public Safety Group Supports Burns-Clinton Measure to Protect E9-1-1 Funding

Washington, DC – The National Emergency Number Association (NENA) praised the action of Sens. Conrad Burns (R-MT) and Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY) in introducing a bill to eliminate the “raiding” of state funds earmarked to upgrade the nation’s emergency 9-1-1 system. The Senators are co-chairs of the Congressional E9-1-1 Caucus.

“We applaud the leadership of Sens. Burns and Clinton in helping to ensure that this vital issue remains squarely in front of our nation’s lawmakers,” said John Melcher, president of NENA and deputy director of the Greater Harris County 9-1-1 Emergency Network in Houston. “Establishing a secure, reliable and adequate funding mechanism for E9-1-1 is an essential step for protecting our families, communities, and homeland security. By focusing on solutions to the funding crisis, Senators Burns and Clinton are advancing the public-private partnership that is so vital to the implementation of E9-1-1 for all Americans.”

Across the United States, about 93% of the nation’s emergency call centers have “enhanced” 9-1-1 (E9-1-1) for wireline callers, which means automated systems can identify the caller’s number and physical location, and route the call to the closest emergency responders. However, only about 10% of the nation’s emergency call centers can obtain precise location information from a wireless 9-1-1 caller.

The Burns-Clinton bill seeks to address the funding and policy coordination issues that have hindered the spread of E9-1-1 for wireless callers. For example, most telephone users pay state-level surcharges on their phone bills that are intended to help pay for the needed technology and infrastructure changes for E9-1-1. But unfortunately, in many states and localities, these funds have been siphoned away and spent on other government programs.

The bill also establishes a federal interagency committee to help coordinate E9-1-1 activities with homeland security and other policy priorities.

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