FCC's Genachowski promises NG-9-1-1 'first step'
The Federal Communications Commission will take "a first step" toward a nationwide modernization of the 9-1-1 system that would allow public safety emergency call centers to receive mobile device texts as well as video and photos, said FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski Nov. 23.
That first step will be to include Next Generation 9-1-1 as an agenda item for next month's public meeting of agency commissioners, Genachowski said, adding that "it is an important first step." Genachowski spoke at the Arlington County, Va., emergency center.
Awareness among first responders that the 9-1-1 system is an analog antique incapable of accepting mobile device data inputs, despite a pervasive public belief that it can, is already widespread. Of the 650,000 9-1-1 calls placed every day, 450,000 of them come from mobile phones, Genachowski said.
"It's time to bring 9-1-1 into the digital age," the chairman added.
In fact, the Transportation Department already funded in 2008 five proof-of-concept projects testing public safety answering points' (the formal name for 9-1-1 call centers) ability to work with voice, video, text messages from mobile devices.
However, congressional authorization for the DOT 9-1-1 office--it was co-managed by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration--expired on Sept. 30, 2009.
Since then, the FCC has released its National Broadband Plan, which among other things recommends that the FCC "launch a comprehensive next-generation alert system inquiry."
The plan also calls on Congress to fund a report undertaken by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration to analyze the costs of employing a nationwide Next Generation 9-1-1 system, with the report to be completed by Dec. 1, 2011.
- read an FCC Next Generation 9-1-1 press release and read his Nov. 23 prepared remarks (.pdf)
- download the National Broadband Plan
- go to the Transportation Department's Next Generation 9-1-1 webpage
- download the DOT Next General 9-1-1 proof of concept final report