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NENA Welcomes Establishment of NG9-1-1 Interoperability Oversight Commission

Wednesday, February 5, 2020   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Chris Nussman
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The nation’s leading 9-1-1 organization is welcoming the establishment of an independent body to encourage greater interoperability in Next Generation 9-1-1 (NG9-1-1) systems.

Together with other stakeholders, the National Emergency Number Association (NENA) will participate in the new NG9-1-1 Interoperability Oversight Commission, an independent body that will oversee key programs related to interoperability in NG9-1-1, including the PSAP (Public Safety Answering Point) Credentialing Agency (PCA) and the NG9-1-1 Forest Guide.

The PCA will address the need for Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) to manage secure credentials within the 9-1-1 industry. A PKI is a set of policies and certificate-issuing bodies that cooperate in establishing trust so that entities in a sensitive industry can communicate securely. The PCA is a root Certificate Authority (CA) that sits at the root of the NG9-1-1 PKI. This is the same model used by the STIR/SHAKEN system to authenticate telephone calls, and also used by the global aerospace industry, the United States cable television industry, the U.S. Federal Government and others. The PKI is required to be established under standards developed for NG9-1-1, such as the NENA i3 core services standard.

The Forest Guide is another service required by the major standards for NG9-1-1, including work published by the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) and NENA, to help with location-based routing when the local system can’t find a destination. In NG9-1-1, a caller’s location is typically used for location-based routing to connect a caller with the correct Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP). When the local system fails to find the right PSAP for a call, it will query the Forest Guide for help. Current standards envision one Forest Guide will exist for each large region, such as United States or Canada. The Federal Communications Commission’s Task Force on Optimal PSAP Architecture (TFOPA) has also called for a Forest Guide for the United States, with independent governance.

These new services are critically important and will require ongoing, stakeholder-driven oversight, which will be provided by the NG9-1-1 Interoperability Oversight Commission. The commission will oversee the development and operation of both services, including budgets, policies, management procedures and any fees. Seats on the commission will reflect all affected stakeholders, including 9-1-1 authorities, commercial providers, standards development groups, elected officials and 9-1-1 operators.

“This is a landmark moment for public safety,” said Brandon Abley, Technical Issues Director for NENA. “The PCA and Forest Guide are critically important services, and the Commission will make sure stakeholders can trust how they are operated. NENA will have no direct control over these entities, allowing for fully independent oversight. We’re following the exact same model used in other critical industries.”

NENA is actively soliciting volunteers to sit on the commission. An open letter with submission instructions is available here, and the bylaws for the Commission are here.