911 funding models should reflect modern communications trends
It wasn’t that long ago when most 911 calls were made with a traditional telephony landline phone from a residence, business or a pay phone. As a result, 911 funding models based on fees assessed to wireline phones in a given geographic area—often a county or state—made complete sense.
Today, things have changed a great deal. Many residences do not have a landline phone, so the revenue stream from associated 911 fees is decreasing. Cell phones have associated 911 fees, but this funding source has been raided by many state governments as they try to balance budgets—a sore spot for everyone in the 911 industry.
Of course, there are host of new communications offerings, including voice services from over-the-top providers and non-voice services, such as text, data, photos and video. Meanwhile, everyone is anticipating that there will be tens of billions of sensors and other devices networked in machine-to-machine (M2M) mode in the so-called Internet of Things (IoT).
Tremendous work has been done to develop standards and guidelines for next-generation 911, which leverages an all-IP architecture to support these newer forms of communications, as well other methods that have not been developed yet.
But the problem facing many public-safety answering points (PSAPs) is how to pay for the new technology need to migrate to next-gen 911 when they are struggling to find enough funding to maintain legacy emergency-calling operations. Where should additional 911 funding come from—increases to additional fees, fees to new services, money from the federal government, or something new entirely?
We’ll discuss this funding question and possible solutions during a webinar—sponsored by the Industry Council of Emergency Response Technologies (iCERT)—that will begin at 2:00 p.m. tomorrow, Wednesday, Nov. 12. Registration is free for the webinar, which is entitled “Fortifying Access to First Response: Funding Considerations for 9-1-1 and the Transition to IP-based Technologies.”
Highlighting the webinar will be a presentation by Walt Magnussen—associate director for the Academy for Advanced Telecommunications and Learning Technologies at Texas A&M University—about preliminary findings of research being conducted by Texas A&M on behalf of iCERT in the area of 911 funding.
In preparation for the webinar, we have conducted a series of 911-related podcasts with representatives of iCERT member companies that are co-sponsoring the webinar. If you haven’t listened to them yet, please check out the links below to hear some thought-provoking perspectives about emergency calling:
- Darrin Reilly, iCERT chairman and COO at Tritech Software Systems, who will speak during the webinar, as will iCERT Executive Director George Rice;
- David Jones, senior vice president at Mission Critical Partners;
- Tim Lorello, senior vice president at TeleCommunication Systems (TCS);
- Joe Marx, AT&T’s federal regulatory assistant vice president; and
- Ellen O’Hara, Zetron president and CEO.
There seems to be consensus agreement that the funding model for 911 needs to change in many states and locations, but exactly how it should be done—and whether the federal government should be part of the equation, particularly as we migrate to next-gen 911—promises to be a lively debate for some time. Please join us tomorrow for this free webinar to be part of this intriguing and important dialog.