FE/Kimball believes that a NG9-1-1 plan should include a mechanism for identifying and resolving all these transitional issues, including the establishment of an authority with all the legal rights it requires to build and operate a NG9-1-1 system (or coordinate the implementation and interconnection of multiple regional NG9-1-1 systems).
1U.S. Department of Transportation, Next Generation 9-1-1 (NG9-1-1 System Initiative:
Concept of Operations), April 2007 version 2.0, page 5
2National Emergency Number Association Next Generation Partner Program, “Transition Policy Implementation Handbook” March 2010, page 18
FE/Kimball believes that to achieve statewide coverage and effect interstate connectivity these initial steps should include policies regarding how the participating agencies will use and operate the system and how procurement of hardware, software and integration services will be rolled out among the jurisdictions. Local, county and state governments will need to determine if they can handle this rollout with their own staffs or if they will need expert advice and assistance. Their basic operational decision must center on whether the publicly funded government agencies will build and run the NG9-1-1 system, i.e., whether they will own the IP backbone and any applications that are delivered over it and rely on their own employees, or hire a professional services company to manage and maintain the network through leased facilities.
FE/Kimball believes that, as participating agencies move through the transition to NG9-1-1, they will confront more questions that must be settled, including:
- Will the system be run as a statewide network, or will the state only facilitate interconnections among regional systems to achieve statewide coverage, filling the gaps in the network with state-level service?
- Is a governing entity or state-level oversight authority in place to manage the NG9-1-1 system, or must a separate governance structure be created? An existing state board, for instance, may have the authority to collect telecommunications taxes and provide funding for 9-1-1 services but no authority whatsoever to manage interconnections among local 9-1-1 systems to ensure statewide coverage. In that instance, a new governance arrangement may be required. Additionally, state law may dictate that a new governance tier be set up with individuals from the state, each region, responders and other stakeholders who share the IP network.
- Will the rollout schedule be based on a geographical progression or should some other criteria (population, funding, ) guide the schedule?
- How will public safety agencies obtain guarantees from other stakeholders that 9-1-1 emergency traffic always receives top priority within the IP network if that network is shared with non-emergency voice and data communications, other government services or even commercial interests?
FE/Kimball believes that the best way to resolve all these considerations is to begin the NG9-1-1 planning process by assembling a collaborative organization of stakeholders to sort through all these issues. Early on, this planning group, which may or may not be part of the governance structure, should deliberate and make decisions about operational policies and procedures and the transitional steps required to move forward with NG9-1-1 implementation. When these stakeholders convene, their responsibility is to offer recommendations for an appropriate governance structure to deal with such questions as who has access to the system and when, who pays for what services and equipment, where funding comes from, and who will ensure that software to be placed on the system by one or more partners will not endanger the network.
“Day one” of a NG9-1-1 project, therefore, is a very long day indeed. Many issues must be resolved right at the beginning of the path to transition, but working to ensure that stakeholders will not encounter unanticipated barriers on the road ahead will make their next steps much more certain and productive.