Aug 172011

Excerpts From Remarks by FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski

APCO Annual Meeting, Philadelphia, PA – August 10, 2011


Full text:


Let me speak about our plan to speed the deployment of Next Generation 9-1-1.


As you know, NG9-1-1 is an emergency response system that will run on the broadband networks of the 21st century, instead of the circuit-switched copper networks of the 20th century.


What’s the big deal?  Why is NG9-1-1 going to add so much value as compared to the 9-1-1 system that’s been in place, and that’s been an indisputable success?


For starters, NG9-1-1 allows consumers to use whatever communications devices they have with them. In an emergency, people are going to reach out for help with whatever means of communications they are accustomed to using.  For a growing number, its texting, which, unbelievable as it is, the current system doesn’t support. It’s hard to imagine that airlines can send text messages if your flight is delayed, but you can’t send a text message to 9-1-1 in an emergency. With NG9-1-1, no matter how you try to contact 9-1-1, your call for help will be delivered.


And NG911 holds tremendous promise for persons with disabilities.   Texting can make 9-1-1 accessible to people who are deaf or hard of hearing.


Opening up 9-1-1 to new means of communications not only makes the service more accessible, but enabling the public to transmit photos, video, and data will dramatically enhance the ability of first responders to help those in need.


It enables the creation of 21st century command centers that can give first responders broad and timely situational awareness – dramatically improving the ability to stop crime and save lives.


Imagine if an incident commander had instant access to multiple video streams and sources of information during an armed robbery.


Imagine someone was in a car accident. With NG9-1-1, somebody in the car could send pictures of injuries and the scene to 9-1-1, which EMTs could review in advance.  Once on scene, EMTs could send critical information back to the hospital, including on-site scans and diagnostic information, increasing odds of recovery.


With NG9-1-1, dispatchers could access hospital capacity data, real-time road and traffic conditions, and video of the crash scene from traffic cameras to decide who to dispatch and where crash victims should be transported.


Getting victims the right type of assistance even a few minutes earlier can make the difference between life and death.


If a patient wearing a 24-hour cardiac monitoring device experiences a cardiac event at home, the device could automatically send a wireless signal to the NG9-1-1 system to request aid, and also transmit the patient’s location, identifying data and relevant medical information.


Getting NG9-1-1 up and running is going to take a lot of work on the part of a lot of people. It will require 9-1-1 authorities and service providers to work in parallel and take coordinated actions.  Without a comprehensive and coordinated strategy, we’ll see a patchwork deployment of NG9-1-1 over the next 5 to 10 years, with much of the United States still without any NG9-1-1 capability at the end of that period.


That’s not the right outcome.  It’s imperative that NG9-1-1 be deployed to all Americans as quickly as possible, and in the most effective and cost-efficient way.


That’s why the FCC has developed a comprehensive five-step plan to make sure that these potential life-saving services are available to every person in this country.


First, we need to develop location accuracy mechanisms for NG9-1-1. To provide assistance, first responders need to be able to find the person in need of assistance quickly and accurately.  That’s as true of NG9-1-1 as it is of 9-1-1. As I mentioned, last month, the FCC took steps to improve the accuracy of mobile 9-1-1.  At the same time, we started a process to tackle location accuracy for NG9-1-1.  I encourage your active input on that.


Second, we need to complete the implementation of NG9-1-1 technical standards that define the system architecture – the hardware and software that carriers and PSAPs will use to communicate NG9-1-1 information seamlessly. Through years of hard work by the 9-1-1 community, much of the necessary standards work has already been completed, but some issues remain about how the architecture will be implemented.  We will work with all stakeholders to help resolve these issues, which will help ensure that NG9-1-1 is deployed consistently across the country.  It’s necessary for innovation, and it’s necessary to accelerate adoption of NG9-1-1 technologies.


Third, we need to develop a NG9-1-1 governance framework.  One of the biggest challenges facing NG9-1-1 deployment is that no single entity has jurisdiction.  The FCC is working with other federal agencies and 9-1-1 authorities to create a governing framework that can get and keep everybody on the same page.


The fourth piece of our game plan is identifying how to fund NG9-1-1 in a cost-efficient way.  The FCC’s Public Safety Bureau is preparing a cost model to identify the expenses associated with deploying the network infrastructure required to link PSAPs and carriers.


We also want to find ways to ensure that states don’t divert the 9-1-1 fees they collect to other purposes. As directed by Congress, each year the FCC reports on which states are diverting the 9-1-1 fees they collect to other, non-9-1-1-related purposes.


The good news is that the number of such states is going down. The bad news is that there are often no consequences for states that divert.


The FCC will work with Congress to ensure that its laws have real teeth, so that states face consequences if they engage in redirection of 9-1-1 funds. And meanwhile, the FCC’s annual report will be released in the coming weeks, and we’ll all be able to see which states are using 9-1-1 fees for 9-1-1, and which are not.


Fifth and finally, I’d like to announce an action the FCC is taking as part of our NG9-1-1 game plan.  Next month, the Commission will consider a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to accelerate NG9-1-1 adoption. This will help us answer the practical, technical questions about how exactly to enable transmitting text, photos, and video to 9-1-1 so that PSAPs are able to receive them.  The rulemaking will also consider how to ensure adequate broadband infrastructure to deliver the bandwidth PSAPs will need to provide NG9-1-1.


I urge everyone in the emergency response community to participate in this proceeding.  To make sure these technologies work for you, we need to hear from you.


I also strongly support experimenting with different models to develop both near-term and long-term text-to-9-1-1 solutions.  I know there is creative thinking and real energy going into solving this problem, and I’m pleased that, in parallel with FCC consideration of this matter, a number of companies are doing just that.


Just last week, the City of Durham, North Carolina, Verizon and Intrado launched a six-month text-to-9-1-1 trial.  And Neustar has been demonstrating Text Everywhere – a text-to-wireline solution – that could have real promise for NG9-1-1.


Steps like these are important toward building a 21st century 9-1-1 system that enables the public to send text, data, photos, and video to 9-1-1 in emergencies.


I encourage innovation in this area.  It’s vital that we identify cost-effective ways to bring these new communications technologies to 9-1-1.


The shift to NG9-1-1 can’t be about if, but about when and how.  I recognize that it’s going to usher in a lot of changes – changes that will present many challenges. The FCC will work with you to make sure this new system will allow you to keep doing your jobs well, and to make sure that this new system works for the American people.


The stakes couldn’t be higher.


We have to get this right.  Working together, we will get this right.


– Thanks to NVRC, Fairfax (08/16/11)