CSRIC working group provides best practices for interim text-to-911 service
A working group of the Communications Security, Reliability, and Interoperability Council (CSRIC) has finalized its recommended best practices for public-safety answering points (PSAPs) to follow when requesting interim SMS text-to-911 service.
Representing the working group, National 911 Program Coordinator Laurie Flaherty and Brian Fontes—CEO of the National Emergency Number Association (NENA)—briefed CSRIC at Wednesday’s meeting. The recommendations were approved.
The document does not endorse any of the available options for text-to-911 service—Web Service, TTY and i3 ESInet/IP interface—but it provides guidelines for initiating interim service, regardless of the PSAP’s interface preference.
The document also does not attempt to influence PSAPs on the timing of implementation, but the FCC has already made it known that it wants the capability available nationwide by the end of the year. The four largest wireless carriers—AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon—began offering the service last month as part of a voluntary agreement.
As the working group offered guidance to PSAPs, it also urged the FCC to work with other entities to develop broader cybersecurity policies that would protect public safety as it adopts new technologies.
“In considering the implementation of such programs, we need to understand not only the risk, but also what we can do to mitigate that risk,” the group wrote in its final report. “Waiting until the networks are built is too late. While we strive to combat the current cyber attacks, cyber criminals are already designing the next vector for attack, and they are constantly adapting.
“We cannot for one minute allow the threat of cyber attack to deter us from progressing. This said, our resolve to deploy these new technologies must be matched by our resolve to create secure systems and solutions for both industry and public safety.”
FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler recently called upon communications companies to step up efforts to protect their networks and ward off hackers. His comments ruffled the feathers of some who said Wheeler’s comments implied that the companies were not preparing for such risks.
FCC Public Safety Chief David Simpson elaborated more on Wheeler’s message at Wednesday’s CSRIC meeting, noting that the FCC is urging companies to be more transparent about their efforts to manage the risk to bolster consumer confidence and increase the global competiveness.