Executive board members for the National Emergency Number Association (NENA) today announced the much-anticipated approval of the i3 standard, which is designed to provide key technical guidelines for the implementation of next-generation 911 (NG-911) systems.

“Much work remains to be done, but our adoption of the i3 standard establishes a clear vision for the future and a foundation on which successful transitions to next-generation 911 service can be built,” NENA President Stephen O’Conor wrote in an explanatory statement that accompanied the announcement.

With the approval, the i3 standard is expected to emerge from the uncertain status it has held during the past three months, during which time NENA has investigated allegations regarding a procedural complaint issued in March.

“The board reviewed thoroughly and very carefully the procedures related to the development of the i3 document and some technical and policy issues related to the document,” Trey Forgety, NENA’s government affairs director, said during an interview but declining to detail the nature of the complaint. “They looked at it comprehensively … I think the adoption of the document speaks for itself.”

In the past, Intrado CTO Stephen Meer has raised concerns about i3, claiming that the document provides more of a functional definition of what is needed than a detailed standard that PSAPs and vendors could follow to ensure that migration to NG-911 can be executed with standards-based interfaces.

In a NENA press release, O’Conor calls adoption of the i3 standard “one of the most significant milestones on the road to deployment of next-generation 911 systems nationwide” but acknowledged that it is not a completed project.

“In its current iteration, the i3 standard represents an end-state vision for NG-911 system architecture, rather than a ‘build-to’ specification for a complete NG-911 system.” O’Conor said in a prepared statement.

Craig Whittington, NENA’s immediate past president, echoed this sentiment.

“It is important that everyone understand what it is, and what it isn’t,” Whittington said in a prepared statement. “You can’t just go out with an RFP that says, ‘We want an i3 system;’ it’s important that the public-safety community understand that this is a long-term, end-state vision.”

Forgety said the text of the i3 document was not altered, but the NENA executive board called on NENA’s technical and operations committee to expedite its work on NG-911 transition planning, system security and establishing an interface for services based on Internet Multimedia Subsystem (IMS) standards work.

Officials for some 911 vendors have indicated that approval of the i3 standard would mean the end of Request for Assistance Interface (RFAI), an ATIS interim standard endorsed by NENA as a transitional element that PSAPs could use to begin the transition to an IP platform until the i3 standard was completed. Forgety said he expects RFAI to have a role in the transition to NG-911 for some time.

“ATIS has been very clear that RFAI is a transitional technology that will exist until next-generation 911 systems can be deployed fully,” he said.