The National Emergency Number Association (NENA) and the Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials (APCO) this week announced a joint agreement regarding next-generation 911 systems migration and transition planning.

Under the terms of a statement of cooperation, the organizations have agreed to solicit input from, and share output with, each other in an effort to develop a next-generation 911 system largely based on IP technologies. Specifically, an APCO representative will participate on NENA’s Next Generation Transition Planning Committee, and NENA leaders will be on APCO’s Project 41 Committee.

“We believe that, as much as possible, we need to work together and utilize both of our expertises working toward the same goal,” Patrick Halley, NENA’s government affairs director, said during an interview with MRT. “This is just a formal announcement and alliance of what we’ve already been doing over the last several months.”

Halley said officials for the organizations have been discussing such an agreement during “the last couple of months.” While the organizations may not agree on all details regarding next-generation 911, a cooperative effort can enhance development efforts by both entities and eventually serve as the foundation for a united front that can help enabling legislation become a reality, he said.

“From my perspective, the most important thing about this is that, for this to happen, NENA and APCO have to be on the same page,” Halley said. “It’s broader than NENA and APCO, but as the two national associations that primarily deal with 911 issues, we need to be on the same page and working together. … We’re all trying to get to the same place.”

This sentiment was echoed in prepared statements from the organizations’ presidents, NENA’s Jason Barbour and APCO’s Wanda McCarley.

"It is essential that NENA and APCO share the same vision of next-generation 911 and emergency communications and that we all work together in the spirit of collaboration and cooperation,” Barbour said.

"The future of 911 is one of the most significant issues facing public safety in the U.S.," McCarley said. "APCO and NENA have come together as a team in this very significant effort, and we feel the results will be a firm foundation for the advancement of 911 and public safety.