Nation’s 9-1-1 Leaders Call for Changes in 9-1-1 Funding Bill in U.S. House

Groups representing the state and local leaders of America’s 9-1-1 systems are pleased that the infrastructure bill being assembled in the U.S. House includes major funding for 9-1-1 system upgrades, but they are concerned that some provisions in the bill could undermine the rollout of Next Generation 9-1-1 (NG9-1-1).

In a March 19 letter to the leaders of the House Energy and Commerce Committee from NENA: The 9-1-1 Association and the National Association of State 9-1-1 Administrators (NASNA), the groups said, “We strongly support Congressional efforts to make the investments necessary to ensure an advanced and secure emergency communications infrastructure.” But they added that Congress must make modifications to the LIFT America Act “or risk compromising NG9-1-1 for many years ahead.”

Specifically, NENA and NASNA seek to work with Congress to improve LIFT-Act language pertaining to:

  • NG9-1-1 Standards: The Act would create a new program at the National Institutes of Standards and Technologies (NIST) to develop NG9-1-1 standards and technology. This is unnecessary because there is already widespread support of the NENA “i3” standard, which is consensus-based and reflected in many states’ ongoing NG9-1-1 projects. The prospect of new federal standards would create uncertainties in those projects and could strand billions of dollars in current state investments.
  • Interoperability: The bill’s language on interoperability is imprecise and could block funds from being used to assist with the transition from current 9-1-1 systems to NG9-1-1.
  • Cybersecurity: While the security of our nation’s 9-1-1 systems is vital, the solution outlined in the act would undermine state and local control of their 9-1-1 systems; create significant new privacy, technical, and legal challenges to NG9-1-1 implementations; and impose additional costs and administrative burdens — all without a clear roadmap for success.
  • NG9-1-1 Advisory Board: NASNA and NENA do not believe a new advisory board is necessary, but if such a board is created, its role should be limited in time and scope, and it should not be exempted from the Federal Advisory Committee Act.

“The infrastructure bill is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to fix the cracks in the foundation of all public safety response: America’s 9-1-1 systems,” said Brian Fontes, CEO of NENA. “It is essential that we get it right. NENA is eager to work with Congress and the Biden administration to adopt workable solutions to our 9-1-1 infrastructure problems.”