Another key point of emphasis in the Project 43 report is cybersecurity. PSAPs today face threats, but the all-IP and highly interconnected nature of NG911 mean cyberattacks could be more commonplace in the future. NG911 proponents note that the new platform will provide more tools to defend a PSAP/ECC, but implementing such defenses throughout more than 6,000 PSAPs promises to be a daunting task.

Cohen and Reddish noted that all PSAP personnel need additional cybersecurity training to raise awareness of best practices for combating the most common threats, such as phishing attempts. However, sharing cybersecurity resources via the creation of Emergency Communications Cybersecurity Centers (EC3s) that support numerous PSAPs/ECCs—a concept proposed by an FCC task force examining NG911—likely is the most practical approach, Cohen said.

“We think [EC3] is a great model to help detect and manage threats in a shared manner to 911 centers and possibly other enterprises,” he said. “This way, the PSAPs don’t have to hire and have all of the protections and repeat it in every single place. They can share some of these resources.”

Cohen emphasized that APCO believes that the Project 43 “is the beginning of a conversation” about NG911 and encouraged interested parties to provide input by submitting comments and questions via e-mail to broadband@apcointl.org.

“The main thrust of this report is to generate the conversation with all stakeholders, and we welcome any feedback. We hope this starts a real comprehensive discussion about how to position the 911 centers, so they are operationally ready for the new technology that’s about to come.”