911.GOV

State 9-1-1 Boards and NextGen

boardmeeting-300x195

 

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.

 

Testing 1,2,3…

Recently, the Federal Government released a committee report. This report included the recommendation that the Standard Occupational Classification (SOC), NOT be modified to change the classification of Public Safety Telecommunicator from “Office and Administrative Support” to critical public safety professional. This was in direct opposition to the recommendations from APCO, NENA and the Congressional NextGen 9-1-1  Caucus.

OPM

The hope was that the committee would agree to reclassify Telecommunicator as a “Protective Service Occupation”. This is the same category as firefighters, police officers (and life guards)

Brian Fontes, CEO of NENA – “The men and women of 9-1-1 do so much more than just answer the phone. They guide callers through life-saving procedures, provide advice on how to handle dangerous situations, and provide critical backup to field responders, all while under great stress and pressure.”

APCO President Brent Lee- ” I am extremely disappointed that the Policy Committee failed to address the inaccurate classification of Public Safety Telecommunicators in the SOC.”

It would appear that the Office of Management and Budget does not ‘hear’ the compelling story of the service  Call Takers and Dispatchers provide.

As I understand it, NENA and APCO will be meeting with both OMB and Congress in an effort to resolve this before the SOC classification is finalized in 2017.

One thought- The Washington, D.C. “Unified Command” PSAP is only a 16 minute drive from the Office of Personnel Management. I had the pleasure of meeting  Karima Holmes , the Director, last week. I am sure that she would be more that willing to give the OPM Committee Members a tour.

Would somebody please set this up?? (Directions provided above..)

FCC Chairman Testifies on NG9-1-1

HECC

Today there was a meeting regarding the Federal Communication Commission’s (FCC) oversight responsibilities, conducted by the U.S. House of Representatives Energy and Commerce Committee.

I am encouraged by the recommendation regarding funding for NG9-1-1.

Below is the testimony of FCC Chairman Wheeler:

Text of Wheeler Testimony on NG9-1-1

During my tenure as FCC Chairman, and in my prior testimony before this Subcommittee, I have been very vocal about the urgent need to improve our 911 system. The recent tragedies in Orlando, San Bernardino, and too many other cities highlight the importance of 911 in times of crisis. 

The Commission has taken action to improve the quality and accuracy of 911, and there is good news to report. We see industry is stepping up to many of the challenges, improving 911 location accuracy, supporting text-to-911, and generally investing to improve network reliability and resiliency. 

But effective 911 service depends on our nation’s 911 call centers. These Public Safety Answering Points, or PSAPs, must have technology to receive and process calls quickly, accurately locate callers, and dispatch an appropriate response. The unfortunate fact is that 911, designed originally for analog voice, doesn’t scale effortlessly to the advanced digital, wireless, and multi-media technology landscape. In too many communities, the PSAPs are relying on dangerously out of date technology, and the transition to Next Generation 911 (NG911) – envisioned by Congress in 1999 when it established 911 as the national emergency number – has not started or is stalled. Resource-strapped local jurisdictions struggle to maintain existing 911 service, let alone to achieve Congress’s NG911 vision. 

Industry and many states, counties, and cities are working hard to address transition risk and achieve NG911 capabilities. Nearly 20 percent of counties now support text-to-911. Many jurisdictions are building out their Emergency Services IP Networks – the basic backbone for NG911 in their communities.

But these islands of progress are the exception, not the rule. Unless we find a way to help the nation’s PSAPs overcome the funding, planning, and operational challenges they face as commercial communications networks evolve, NG911 will remain beyond reach for much of the nation. Let me be clear on this point: 911 service quality will not stay where it is today, it will degrade if we don’t invest in NG911. 

Congress has the unique ability to accelerate the transition to NG911. A clear national call to action, with timely application of resources, would actually lower NG911 transition costs by shortening the transition period and enabling 911 authorities to retire costly legacy facilities more quickly. Here are three ways that Congress could help:

  • National 911 Map: PSAPs are increasingly dependent on electronic maps for 911 routing and location, but the maps that they rely on should not end at the county or state line. Congress could authorize and fund the FCC (in collaboration with DOT) to create a national 911 map that would be available to every PSAP and would eliminate the seams between commercial communications network infrastructure and emergency response dispatch systems. 

  • Cybersecurity Defenses for PSAPs: PSAPs face the same cyber vulnerabilities that have proven so challenging to both government and commercial organizations, but most lack trained workforce and the necessary tools for cyber defense. Congress could bring PSAP IP Networks under the protective umbrella of DHS’s “Einstein” program by funding the deployment of intrusion detection sensors for NG911 networks.

  • National NG911 Implementation Date with Matching Funds: Currently, there is no national timetable or target date for completing the transition to NG911. Congress could establish a nationwide NG911 implementation date (e.g., to complete the transition by the end of 2020) and authorize matching funds to help state and local communities achieve this goal. Congress can further jump start this effort by ensuring that federally run PSAPs and Emergency Operations Centers make achievement of NG911 capability a funding priority.

This Committee has commendably made public safety a priority, and I urge you to do everything in your power to make sure our nation’s 911 system evolves safely as it adjusts to achieve your NG911 vision and that PSAPs have the tools and support they need to avoid undue risk in the transition. 

SECURITY – sometimes difficult to define

Security

I received a letter from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management in Washington, D.C. recently. The OPM experienced a major security HACK, which they publicly admitted (thank you).  This breach of data  included, as I learned in the letter, details that were voluntarily provided and additional information from background investigations for thousands of security clearances, including mine (past life).

Anyone who has been involved in this aspect of working with the Federal Government knows that the higher the level of clearance, the more information required. This then needs to be verified (either through formal, feet on the street background investigations or the ever popular polygraph ).

polygraph

The bottom line – In my case – I am being provided credit monitoring, identity monitoring, identity theft insurance and identity restoration services, at no charge, for three years. I appreciate the Federal Governments action.

If you think about this breach, it has tremendous negative potential. In addition to the basics- name, social security number, place of birth, etc- they also have details on an individuals immediate family, business relationships, foreign travel, etc and admissions (again depending on the level of clearance) or revelations of intimate details of your personal life. So- this information could be used to identify and attempt to coerce or blackmail (reveal potentially damaging/embarrassing  information) someone in an influential role (industry or government). A pretty serious situation.

Hackers had the ability to penetrate secure, classified  government networks. We have to assume that there were policies/procedures in place and contractors tasked with securing these systems.

Until recently, 9-1-1 Centers (PSAPs), with their traditional analog phone line connectivity, have not been concerned with the type of ‘hacking’ or security issues normally associated with IP (internet protocol) networks. As we all know, this is changing.

Most of us have heard the terms firewall or encryption. In reality, we are going to require the expertise of our vendors and consultants to make sure that our information and system functionality is safe as we move to these IP based networks. There have been critical scenarios described, such as having an ‘event’ in a major city and the 9-1-1 system being totally disabled as part of the attack.

The challenge is, who really understands all of the aspects of security? Not unlike taking your car to be serviced. The mechanic basically has you at a disadvantage. You need to make a decision – should you trust him? We should not move into IP networks with this approach.  The individual, consultant or vendor we might ‘trust’ may candidly not really have an in depth knowledge of this very complex subject.

Make sure that your security advisor is aware of the following efforts:

National Institute of Standards and Technology:

Cybersecurity Framework

CSRC

NICE

Federal Communications Commission (FCC)

CSRIC

 

No Funded Plan for NextGen 9-1-1 in Your State?

Strategy

In the perfect world there is a plan and approved funding for a NextGen ESInet Emergency Services IP Network in your State (disclaimer.. this is my personal opinion). This will serve as the public safety broadband network for all of the 911 centers (PSAPs). There is local control of the PSAPs, the state has simply removed a major technical hurdle by providing the ESInet backbone as a utility.

This is a great scenario…

With over 30 ‘home rule’ states – the state constitution grants cities, municipalities, and/or counties the ability to pass laws to govern themselves as they see fit (decentralized authority)- it can be challenging to establish a funded statewide 9-1-1 initiative.

In many counties across the US, staff responsible for 9-1-1 are maxed out. They have full time jobs, often serving in an Emergency Management, Police or Fire Rescue position, maybe even managing the PSAP(s). Strategic planning for Next Generation 9-1-1, securing funding and contracting for technical expertise at the local level represents a major undertaking.

SO.. if you are the responsible party at the county level, with no State initiative on the horizon, what do you do?  We are starting to see a grassroots movement where local counties are working together. In Illinois, Florida, New York and Pennsylvania, to name a few,  counties are teaming together to adopt a regional model, migrating to an IP based network with hosted (centralized) call processing. A great first step.

This is not wasted effort, as it lays the foundation for connecting to a full ESInet solution at a future date.

Here in Florida, there are a large number of counties who have begun to ‘self organize’, holding regular meetings to look at options.

Laurie Flaherty,  National 911 Program Coordinator, and her team have put together an annual report that provides an overall view of what is happening nationwide:

National 911 Data