The Next Generation 9-1-1 Investment Act: An investment into the future of 911

Deltek Analyst Evan Halperin reports.

On July 22, 2011, United States Representative John Shimkus, a Republican from Illinois’ 19th District, sponsored a congressional bill titled The Next Generation 9-1-1 Investment Act (H.R.2629). The bill would allocate $250 million in competitive grants to enable state and local governments to move to next generation 911 (NG911) technology. Though numerous grants are awarded to state and local agencies for a variety of technology projects, none of them provide this much funding for NG911. This bill, while still early in the process, marks a significant willingness to promote NG911 as the future of data sharing between the public and public safety officials.

Back in September, the FCC announced it would seek comments from the public and vendor community on NG911 in order to develop standards for the technology. It is important that the comments, which are due in December, lead to more substantial dialogue in order for the House bill to pass. Responses to the comments will be posted in January. The bill was referred to the subcommittee on communications and technology, and it is likely that ranking member, Congresswoman Anna Eshoo (D-CA-14), and others, will need good reports on the technology from the FCC. It is too soon to say whether the House bill hinges on the outcome of the FCC comment period and future rulemaking, but I think that getting Congress to go along with a quarter billion dollars in grant funding during a time when many grant budgets have been slashed will be difficult.

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