CISA Supports Public Safety’s Transition to NG911


Author: Ken Bradley, CISA External Affairs

On June 14 -18, 2019, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) engaged the 9-1-1 community at the National Association of State 9-1-1 Administrators (NASNA) meeting and the National Emergency Number Association (NENA) Conference in Orlando, FL. 

During the June 15, 2019 NASNA meeting, Assistant Director for Emergency Communications, Ron Hewitt,  briefed State 9-1-1 Administrators on the CISA organization, provided updates on the SAFECOM and National Council of Statewide Interoperability Coordinators (NCSWIC) Next Generation 911 (NG911) Maturity State Self-Assessment Tool, highlighted emergency communications governance initiatives, and discussed the 2019 National Emergency Communications Plan release.

“The frequency and complexity of emergencies are on the rise during a time when technology is advancing at a faster pace than any other time in history,” Hewitt said.  “As technology advances, communications capabilities available to emergency responders—voice, video, and data— will transform the emergency communications landscape, providing greater situational awareness to dispatchers and emergency responders.  To prepare 9-1-1 public safety stakeholders for these rapid technology advances, CISA is committed to delivering products and services to support the flow of secure and seamless information.”

During the NENA Conference, CISA engaged with stakeholders in the Exhibit Hall and participated on three panel presentations with SAFECOM, NCSWIC, NASNA, and federal public safety partners from the National 911 Program. 

During the first panel, Are You NG-Ready? CISA’s Gerald “Jerry” Jaskulski, was joined by SAFECOM member Stephen Verbil, State of Connecticut Emergency Telecommunications Manager, California SWIC Budge Currier, from the California Office of Emergency Services, and Laurie Flaherty, U.S. Department of Transportation, National 911 Program.  The panelists discussed the NG911 Maturity State Self-Assessment Tool developed by the SAFECOM NCSWIC NG911 Working Group and provided a video demonstration for the session’s attendees. 

The Working Group, building on the work of the Federal Communications Commission’s Task Force on Optimal Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP) Architecture, believe that public safety administrators and practitioners would benefit from more in-depth insight into their own efforts to assist PSAPs in the transition to NG911.  The Tool provides 911 authority stakeholders with a more granular understanding of the essential NG911 system and will allow PSAPs to better plan their NG911 transition action steps. 

The Tool was designed to assist PSAP administrators in assessing their progress toward migration to NG911 and to identify gaps in their planning efforts.  Other benefits include identifying unmet needs and justifying additional investments.  The results can be used to help educate elected officials and policy makers about NG911 and how to achieve successful migration to the capabilities it will provide.  The working group is currently seeking volunteers to pilot the Tool and those interested should contact: ng911wg@hq.dhs.gov.

On Tuesday, June 18, 2019, Jerry Jaskulski participated on two additional panel presentations, the first on Nationally-Uniform Data: Improving the 9-1-1 Data Set, which covered the challenges in comparing 911 data at the state and sub-state levels. The panel provided an overview of the National 911 Program’s 911 Data and Information Sharing Strategic Plan that was recently released.  The Strategic Plan is intended to provide a framework for standardizing 911 data and use.  The panel discussed how stakeholders can use the Plan as a model for collecting 911 data to inform decision-making, which would help:

  • Administrators improve planning
  • Public safety agencies gain situational awareness
  • Federal agencies make better programmatic support decisions
  • States allocate funds more accurately to match needs
  • Local agencies define and identify infrastructure improvements.

The final panel, NG911 Migration Resources: Are you Ready?, highlighted resources and products available to agency leaders that contain lessons learned and models for transitioning to NG911.  During this session Jerry Jaskulski provide an update on the SAFECOM NCSWIC NG911 Working Group’s NG911 Maturity State Self-Assessment Tool and covered other products the working group created including the Cyber Risks to Next Generation 911 document. 

The NASNA meeting and NENA Conference were a great success for CISA in providing the 911 community with updates on how the Agency is working to support public safety. By sponsoring the SAFECOM NCSWIC NG911 Working Group that is creating products, having PSAPs volunteer to pilot the NG911 Maturity State Self-Assessment Tool, and engaging Federal stakeholders that own and / or operate PSAP facilities, the communications ecosystem stakeholders have reaffirmed their commitment to collaborate with CISA and improve interoperable communications.

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