Boca Raton is a beautiful city of approx. 91,000 located in southern Palm Beach County. Florida Atlantic University (FAU) sits on 850 acres within the city limits- a mere 2 miles from the ocean. About 31,000 students attend this campus.
The university has its own sworn officers, giving it legal jurisdiction over the campus. 9-1-1 calls originating from the campus, however, are routed to the Boca Raton Police Department PSAP.
Here is an example scenario- a student on the FAU campus calls 9-1-1 for assistance. The call is answered by Boca Raton PD. Medical and fire calls were (and still are) handled by Boca PD, while all others (law enforcement) were transferred to the FAU Campus Police. The call was answered on a traditional desktop phone.
There was no call back number displayed and no map to provide the callers location.
In 2015, FAU submitted a formal request to my department to become a Secondary PSAP. Their rationale was student safety.
It was not uncommon for a campus 9-1-1 caller to NOT know their exact location(I’m in the parking lot!!!).After a few visits to the campus and meetings with both the Boca Raton PD and Campus Police, it was decided to move forward with the request. The State of Florida gave the project final approval and we recently went ‘live’ with the new PSAP.
FAU Campus Telecommunicators can now see the 9-1-1 callers location and their phone number.
The University plans to integrate building floor plans into the 9-1-1 system- which could be of great benefit. One of the positive aspects of working with the University is that they own the buildings, so we do not need additional permissions, etc. (such as with, for example a regular business).
And so, while there is continued discussion across the country regarding primary PSAP consolidation, we need to also concern ourselves with safety.
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.
On June 21, 2016 Jeff McLeod, Director of the National Governors Association (NGA) “Center for Best Practices, Homeland Security and Public Safety Division”, testified before a Senate subcommittee on FirstNet.
Part of his comments “States have identified potential obstacles and challenges surrounding the implementation of FirstNet around issues of coverage, cost and consultation. Governors will weigh these and other factors as they decide whether to opt in or opt out of FirstNet.”
Clearly, Governors and their staff have been briefed on FirstNet, to the point where their national association (NGA) felt that it was important they testify before the U.S. Senate.
I believe that there are numerous states where both the Governor and staff are not aware of the Next Generation 9-1-1 initiative, much less the State role and responsibilities.
I have personally heard stories from around the country where a proposed 9-1-1 service fee increase did not survive, mainly because it was viewed as a tax increase. Some states (New Mexico, for example- pocket veto by Governor Susana Martinez) have tried unsuccessfully to have legislation passed to receive 9-1-1 revenue from prepaid cell phones. As the consumer market shifts, and prepaid gains a larger share of the market, these revenues are simply lost, negatively affecting day-to-day 9-1-1 operations.
Here is the New Mexico Revenue chart.
If you include those states where 9-1-1 funds are simply ‘raided’ for other uses, it would seem that there is a need to educate and gain support of Governors and their staff
Individuals in the 9-1-1 community have a long list of skill sets, however we may now need to add additional training to be a certified ‘lobbyist’.