On March 22, 2021 the House Energy & Commerce Committee convened a hearing to discuss the LIFT (Leading Infrastructure for Tomorrow’s) America Act. Introduced earlier this month, the LIFT America Act proposes funding for energy, water, and health care infrastructure, as well as broadband deployment, and next generation 9-1-1 (NG911) deployment and implementation. Supporters of this bill include several prominent law enforcement, fire service, EMS, and 911 associations.
The infrastructure bill calls for a nationwide strategy for NG911 and the development of a national framework for 911 services to include a technology neutral, interoperable system. The bill also creates the NTIA 911 Implementation Coordination Office, which will oversee the grant program to award funds to eligible entities to meet the goals of the legislation. This new office is mandated to promote interoperability with the NPSBN, and we believe they should be moving in lockstep with FirstNet to ensure first responders receive the technologies and capabilities they need.
The grants to eligible entities will fund:
The bill allocates $15 billion for FY2022-2026. Further grant guidance will clarify eligible entities for grant funding.
We are supportive and are very much looking forward to the ongoing developments related to this important legislation. Most PSAPs across the U.S. are unfortunately insufficiently funded and still relying on very outdated technologies and equipment. Maintaining legacy equipment while implementing newer, more efficient solutions is not an option. Funding specifically allocated to NG911 solutions is required for PSAPs and the communities they serve. We agree with the sense of Congress that the term “Public Safety Answering Point” is outdated, and in a broadband environment 911 and emergency communication centers can ensure that the appropriate first responders are dispatched and decrease response times by leveraging text, photos, and videos, in addition to voice. In the end, the goal of NG911 is to enhance responders’ situational awareness at the outset of the incident, provide for better planning en route, enhance community safety, and improve incident outcomes.
This action and sustained momentum are desperately needed. The time to move public safety to next generation 911 technologies is long past. Innovation continues to drive public safety technology around the world, but most PSAPs in the U.S. have missed this technical revolution. 911 dispatch and response in the U.S. needs to leverage technologies available today like next generation video, accurate wireless location, additional data repositories, and data communications. These technologies can dispatch more relevant, real time information to first responders over public safety networks like FirstNet. Call your local members of Congress to support this important legislation, your first responders, and your dispatchers.
Contact your Congressional Representative Here: https://www.house.gov/representatives/find-your-representative