One aspect of FirstNet that I truly respect is the fact that they are funded, organized and empowered regarding their mission. They have the potential to positively impact Public Safety on a national level.
Things are not as well defined with NextGen 9-1-1. At the state level, we currently have extremes regarding 9-1-1 Boards and their authority. While some states are up and running with NextGen, others are struggling with the initial planning. Two States (Wisconsin and Missouri) do not even have a state level 9-1-1 Board.
Laurie Flaherty and her team @ 911.GOV have done a great job collecting and interpreting data from states.
Depending on the specific details, Home Rule can play a major role in the lack of centralized authority for 9-1-1.
There are initiatives today at the federal level regarding funding for Next Generation 9-1-1. We do not want the scenario of a state receiving funding for NextGen without a definitive plan. For those states that do not yet have a plan in place, one option is to engage the Department of Homeland Security Office of Emergency Communications.
This VIDEO may prove of interest. I participate as a subject matter expert (SME) for DHS and believe this program to be of tremendous value.
There are 16 specific sectors in the U.S. that are considered critical infrastructure. 9-1-1 is part of the Emergency Services sector, as defined by Homeland Security.
If you have a legacy PSAP (Public Safety Answering Point or 9-1-1 Center), you depend on the local telephone carrier to keep their central office equipment up and running during any event. The challenge then becomes the local connections- analog phone lines, T1, PRI, etc that connect your PSAP. These are typically single threaded, even if you have two connections from the same provider, they can end up on the same fiber or the same central office.
If you are planning to implement a Next Generation 9-1-1 system, you CAN have much more control over this situation.
Commercial business, especially large companies, understand the critical importance of ‘uptime’ to their business model. It is common practice to have a least two facilities that house their critical servers (data centers) and multiple telecom providers.
Consider putting a multi-telecom carrier requirement in your RFP. A primary and backup (or active/active model) for your NG9-1-1 Core Services equipment should be standard. Your NG9-1-1 PSAP could have have a circuit from your local Telco, maybe a wireless LTE connection (router card) to a different vendor and if you have an alternate provider (maybe your local cable company offers business broadband), include that in the mix.
Satellite is also being used by the ARK-TEX Council of Governments.
Bottom line, you protect your PSAP operations by not tying yourself to single vendor.
The culture, for years in the 9-1-1 community, has been one of trusting the local telco to take care of everything outside of the building. If we truly want to maintain as much uptime as possible and see our PSAPs as part of the nations Critical Infrastructure, then we need to step up and get involved in defining these requirements.