Today, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross announced the issuing of a notice of proposed rulemaking that outlines implementing regulations for the 911 Grant Program.
This program, which is jointly administered by the Department’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) and the Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), will offer up to $110 million in grant funds intended to help states and local jurisdictions upgrade their 911 call centers to Next Generation 911 capabilities. The grants will support the transition of Public Service Answering Points (PSAPs) and their interconnecting 911 network and core services, and facilitate implementation of IP-enabled emergency services and applications enabled by NG911 services.
“Today’s notice is an important step for the 911 Grant Program that will modernize antiquated 911 services across the country,” said Secretary Ross. “Next Generation 911 will save lives by being faster and more reliable, and by better connecting first responders to key health and government services in the event of an emergency.”
All members of the public, including the 911 community, are encouraged to provide written comments on the proposed rule. Comments must be received by Monday, November 6, 2017. You may submit comments online through the Federal eRulemaking Portal or by mail: National Telecommunications and Information Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce, Attn: NG911 Grant Program, 1401 Constitution Avenue NW, Room 4076, Washington, DC 20230. Additional instructions for commenters can be found in the notice.
Today, about 70 percent of all 911 calls annually are placed from wireless phones, and most PSAPs rely on decades-old, narrowband, circuit-switched networks capable of carrying only voice calls and very limited amounts of data. Advances in consumer technology offering capabilities such as text messaging and video communications have quickly outpaced those of PSAPs, which often cannot support callers who wish to send text messages, images, video, and other communications that utilize large amounts of data.
Using these multiple formats NG911 enables 911 calls to contain real-time caller location and emergency information, improve coordination among the nation’s PSAPs, dynamically re-route calls based on location and PSAP congestion, and connect first responders to key health and government services in the event of an emergency.
In 2009, The Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration and Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration oversaw more than $40 million in grants through the ENHANCE-911 (E911) Grant Program. The Next Generation 911 Advancement Act of 2012 provided new funds for the program and broadened the eligible uses of those funds. These new uses include adoption and operation of NG911 services and applications; the implementation of IP-enabled emergency services and applications enabled by NG911 services; the establishment of IP backbone networks; and training of public safety personnel in 911 services.