The Next Generation 9-1-1 System is based on a set of open standards. Vendors that implement any element of the NG9-1-1 system based on the standards have an expectation that their element(s) will interoperate appropriately with elements delivered by other vendors. Long term, this interoperability will not require a custom system integration effort. In the near-term, however, it is understood that much work needs to be done to achieve this high level of interoperability. In the near-term, vendors are testing their element implementations with those from other vendors in the NG9-1-1 Industry Collaboration Events (ICE). Also in the near-term, customers issuing RFPs for NG9-1-1 systems expect significant custom integration. Both of these near-term efforts are appropriate given where the industry is in the deployment cycle, however, the long-term vision of full interoperability is still a goal of the national NG9-1-1 effort.
One key tool that can be used to support the goal of full interoperability between elements of the NG9-1-1 system is a Product Certification Program. Rigorous testing of elements against all relevant standards using a comprehensive test suite can, at the appropriate stage of the evolution of NG9-1-1, help ensure that products will be interoperable when deployed. Product certification can be useful to the relatively small number of vendors whose products help locate, route, and answer emergency calls. Certification of products that initiate emergency calls in a NG9-1-1 environment as an edge device is especially important since the industry expects a proliferation of such devices.
In these early days of the NG9-1-1 rollout, NENA's attention is focused on supporting vendor efforts to build interoperable elements through the Industry Collaboration Events. This has been an outstanding learning experience for the vendors and for the standards development organizations. It has also yielded insights into what a future NG9-1-1 Product Certification program might look like and how it would complement the ongoing Industry Collaboration Events. When the appropriate time comes to consider a product certification program, NENA will engage all industry stakeholders in the decision to establish such a program and if such a program has merit, to design and implement it.