As new products have been introduced that exceed NG911 compliance, smaller PSAPs have found they are able to invest in this technology to obtain similar functionality as the larger PSAPs without the complexity, IT administration requirements and cost of a multi-vendor solution.
Unfortunately, you may be confronted with limited regional support capabilities and less-known vendors with fewer references. In many cases, these risks can be offset by focusing on open solutions that use commercial-off-the-shelf products that are easily interoperable and modifiable. Due to the current significant cost differences and use of standard hardware, you may be able to purchase fault tolerant systems that can provide 99.99 percent uptime to offset any support issues of these leading edge vendors. Emergency CallWorx, 911-Inc., Zetron and Solacom are a sample of vendors to consider.
Keep in mind that NG911 is another stop on the first response roadway. Rather than focus on checklist requirements, instead try to map the vendor's capabilities to the benefits your PSAP requires. While some of the infrastructure you need may not yet be in place, purchases you make now can be NG911 capable, merely waiting for full utilization until the final piece is in place. Looking at benefits provides a way for you to best understand your workflow constraints and how best to solve them. In some cases, the smaller PSAPs are best served by "beyond NG911" capabilities.
Betty Hall has worked and consulted with numerous public safety companies along with a wide range of high-tech companies providing unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), network security products, information technology software, services and computer hardware. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Grant funding arrives
On June 5, 2009, a final rule was approved by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), Department of Transportation (DOT); National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) and the Department of Commerce (DOC) for implementing the E911 grant program authorized under the ENHANCE 911 Act of 2004. The Act authorizes grants for the implementation and operation of Phase II enhanced 911 services and for migration to an IP-enabled emergency network. This grant program was established to provide $43.5 million (less administrative costs) for the implementation and operation of Phase II E911 services and for migration to an IP-enabled emergency network.
The agencies published a notice of proposed rule making to prescribe the criteria for grants under the E911 grant program. The notice identified the eligible uses for the E911 grant funds — implementation and operation of Phase II E911 services or migration to an IP-enabled emergency network. Specifically, the agencies proposed that grant funds and matching funds be used either for the acquisition and deployment of hardware and software that enables compliance with Phase II E911 services or that enables migration to an IP-enabled emergency network, or for training in the use of such hardware and software.