Bi-Partisan Amendment Promotes Next Generation 9-1-1

Alexandria, VA – Public Safety Answering Points around the country received encouraging news on Thursday, as a bipartisan group in the House of Representatives passed an amendment aimed at improving the capabilities of the nation’s 9-1-1 centers 

Previously introduced as H.R. 2629, the Next Generation 9-1-1 Advancement Act, the amendment, introduced jointly by Representatives John Shimkus (R-IL) and Anna Eshoo (D-CA), reauthorizes the National 9-1-1 Office at the Department of Transportation and authorizes grants totaling $250,000,000 over five years to upgrade 9-1-1 capabilities, bringing text messaging and other advanced features to the nation’s 9-1-1 centers.

NENA: The 9-1-1 Association, which represents public safety officials and the 9-1-1 technology community, heralded the amendment as a testament to the importance the public and Congress place on robust emergency communications systems. “Alongside the other public safety measures included in both the majority and minority bills, now is clearly the right time for Congress to take up NG9-1-1 legislation,” said NENA President Rick Galway. “The deployment of emergency text, photo, and video capabilities for consumers should happen alongside the deployment of those same technologies for police officers, fire fighters, and EMTs,” Galway added, referring to the need for a public safety broadband network. The two provisions could eventually work together to provide an end-to-end path for communications technologies the public is already using on a day-to-day basis, but which have not previously been available for use in emergency calling or by responders in the field.
For some, these measures are a particularly welcome advance. Millions of Americans with hearing or speech disabilities are limited to using legacy technology because current networks and 9-1-1 systems cannot handle text messages sent to 9-1-1. The provisions of the Eshoo-Shimkus Amendment, however, would allow 9-1-1 authorities to deploy modern equipment capable of receiving text messages as carrier networks are upgraded to route them quickly and correctly based on the user’s location.
About the National Emergency Number Association
NENA serves the public safety community as the only professional organization solely focused on 9-1-1 policy, technology, operations, and education issues. With more than 7,000 members in 48 chapters across North America and around the globe, NENA promotes the implementation and awareness of 9-1-1 and international three-digit emergency communications systems. NENA works with public policy leaders, emergency services and telecommunications industry partners, like-minded public safety associations, and other stakeholder groups to develop and carry out critical programs and initiatives; to facilitate the creation of an IP-based Next Generation 9-1-1 system; and to establish industry leading standards, training, and certifications. 

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