Bi-Partisan Amendment Promotes Next Generation 9-1-1
Thursday, December 1, 2011
Safety Answering Points (PSAPs) around the country received encouraging news on
December 1, as a bipartisan group of Representatives in the House passed an
amendment aimed at improving the capabilities of the nation’s 9-1-1 centers.
Previously introduced as H.R. 2629, the Next Generation 9-1-1 Advancement
Act, the amendment, introduced jointly by Representatives John Shimkus
(R-IL) and Anna Eshoo (D-CA), reauthorizes the National 9-1-1 Office at the
Department of Transportation and authorizes grants totaling $250,000,000 over
five years to upgrade 9-1-1 capabilities, bringing text messaging and other
advanced features to the nation’s 9-1-1 centers.
The 9-1-1 Association, which represents public safety officials and the 9-1-1
technology community, heralded the amendment as a testament to the importance
the public and Congress place on robust emergency communications systems.
"Alongside the other public safety measures included in both the majority and
minority bills, now is clearly the right time for Congress to take up NG9-1-1
legislation,” said NENA President Rick Galway. "The deployment of emergency
text, photo, and video capabilities for consumers should happen alongside the
deployment of those same technologies for police officers, fire fighters, and
EMTs,” Galway added, referring to the need for a public safety broadband
network. The two provisions could eventually work together to provide an
end-to-end path for communications technologies the public is already using on
a day-to-day basis, but which have not previously been available for use in
emergency calling or by responders in the field.
some, these measures are a particularly welcome advance. Millions of Americans
with hearing or speech disabilities are limited to using legacy technology
because current networks and 9-1-1 systems cannot handle text messages sent to
9-1-1. The provisions of the Eshoo-Shimkus Amendment, however, would allow
9-1-1 authorities to deploy modern equipment capable of receiving text messages
as carrier networks are upgraded to route them quickly and correctly based on
the user’s location.
Implementation and Coordination Office
- The National ICO would be reauthorized through FY
- The ICO would be jointly administered by the
National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) and the
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
Multi-Line Telephone Systems (MLTS)
- The legislation would secure $250 million for PSAPs
to implement IP-Based infrastructure, NG 9-1-1 technology and services,
and support training for the migration to NG 9-1-1.
- States must certify that 9-1-1 fees collected from
consumers are being used for their intended purposes for PSAPs within that
state to qualify for funding.
- Requires the General Services Administration (GSA),
in conjunction with the ICO, to issue a report to Congress on the
capabilities of 9-1-1 services in all Federal buildings and
- Requires the Federal Communications Commission (FCC)
to issue a Notice of Inquiry examining the feasibility of requiring MLTS
manufacturers to provide location capability.
General Accounting Office (GAO) Study
Parity of Liability Protection
- Requires the GAO to conduct a study on the
imposition of taxes, fees, and other charges designated for the purpose of
funding 9-1-1 systems. The GAO is also required to examine the use
of funds generated by such taxes, fees, and other charges.
- The legislation would provide NG 9-1-1 applications
and services the same federal liability immunity that is afforded to voice
calls over POTS, mobile phones, and VoIP. This would ensure that
texting, video or photo communications between citizens and PSAPs are
treated the same way as voice calls are today with respect to liability
- The FCC would be required to initiate a
proceeding to create a special "Do Not Call" Registry for PSAPs.