RCN Press Release















RCN Press Release



Birgit Riepe, Blanc & Otus, 847-382-8875, 773-425-6923 (mobile)
Mary Colvig, Blanc & Otus, 415-856-5176
Sonya Carius, NENA, 800-332-3911

Nation’s First Report Card on 9-1-1 Grades U.S. Service as “B;” 
Notes Future of 9-1-1 as ‘Threatened’

Collaborative Effort of Government, Technology Providers, Carriers and Public Safety Organizations Issues Unprecedented Report Devoted to Reviewing and Improving 9-1-1

WASHINGTON D.C. – Sept. 11, 2001 –The National Emergency Number Association (NENA), a non-profit organization solely dedicated to support, education, research and standards for 9-1-1, today unveiled “9-1-1: Report Card to the Nation,” the first-ever comprehensive study assessing the current and future state of 9-1-1 services in America.

In a press conference coinciding with the 15th anniversary of “National 9-1-1 Day,” U.S. senators, members of Congress, representatives of leading telecommunications companies, and public health and safety organizations joined forces to present the results of the report.

Successfully supporting more than 190 million 9-1-1 calls annually (500,000 each day), the U.S. 9-1-1 system received an overall grade of “B.” However, data collected via the study clearly points to the need for significant investment to meet future challenges that will impact 9-1-1 services, including:

The total number of calls to 9-1-1 continues to rise dramatically. In 1999, the number of 9-1-1 calls exceeded 190 million, or 500,000 each day. Based on U.S. Census estimates, this data reflects that one call to 9-1-1 is placed for every two inhabitants.

Wireless 9-1-1 support must be accelerated. Of the 190 million calls made across the nation to 9-1-1, 50 million came from wireless telephone users (approximately one in four calls) – a ten-fold increase from 10 years ago, when only 4.3 million wireless users made 9-1-1 calls. In the next five years, the number of wireless 9-1-1 calls is expected to more than double to 100 million calls.9-1-1 service via traditional phone lines (wireline) must be accessible to all Americans. Today, 97.8% of the U.S. population has

9-1-1 support via their wireline phones. However, 231 counties, comprising almost 6% of the land in the U.S., do not have 9-1-1 support. These counties are generally rural areas with sparse population, high poverty levels, Native American lands, and military locations, and often do not have the funds needed to implement 9-1-1 infrastructure.

9-1-1 is a viable, important industry with more than 5,000 Primary Public Safety Answering Points in existence, and more than 97,000 personnel employed by 9-1-1 systems and agencies throughout the U.S.

“While our research indicates that 9-1-1 is working well today, and has proven to be a dramatic life-saving service to the public over the past 35 years, we must continue to invest in its future,” said Sharon Counterman, president of NENA. “The results of the RCN indicate that many do not experience the full benefit of 9-1-1 services, and that the 9-1-1 industry needs the collaborative investment of the U.S. government, telecommunications and technology providers, and public and health organizations if it is tasked with meeting future challenges that will impact service, such as increasingly high volumes of calls from wireless devices, and a growing telematics industry.”

The Report Card to the Nation (RCN) is the critical first step in understanding how 9-1-1 is serving the American public and analyzing the factors that make 9-1-1 successful both today and tomorrow. RCN is a collaborative effort of organizations including the American Heart Association (AHA), the Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials International (APCO), the Cellular Telecommunications and Internet Association (CTIA), Intrado, Inc., the National Association of State 9-1-1 Administrators (NASNA), SBC Communications, and others.

Formal “grades” as issued by the RCN Commission include:

Quality of Service: A-
9-1-1’s current quality of service is largely reliable and contains the needed redundancy and security features to handle the current level of 9-1-1 calls. Additionally, research confirms that the American public has a high degree of trust and faith in the effectiveness of 9-1-1, and is highly satisfied with current service.

Availability: B
9-1-1 service via traditional phone lines is widely available to approximately 97.8 percent of the U.S. population. However, there are under served areas, primarily in rural counties.

Public Awareness and Education: B
The American public is very aware of 9-1-1 and how and when to use it. However, public education remains the key to reducing the number of non-emergency calls to 9-1-1, and to emphasizing the importance of this life-saving number.

Wireless: Incomplete
The RCN’s grade for Wireless is “incomplete” due to the fact that wireless 9-1-1 support is a work in progress. Though the FCC has required wireless carriers to provide location and call back information to 9-1-1 centers according to an FCC mandated timetable, the implementation of this technology is behind schedule, and wireless 9-1-1 deployment must be accelerated.

9-1-1 Tomorrow: D
The 9-1-1 system must accommodate new technologies, increased competition and other institutional changes at a cost likely to exceed current levels of public funding. 9-1-1 needs sufficient investment if it is to meet challenges that will impact future services.

The RCN Commission, formed by NENA as the entity to provide overall guidance for the RCN, led the data collection effort with guidance from Deloitte & Touche on survey design and sampling methodology. Harris Interactive conducted the public survey on awareness of and satisfaction with 9-1-1 service.
NENA’s “9-1-1: Report Card to the Nation” coincides with “National 9-1-1 Day,” established by President Ronald Reagan in 1987 in an effort to recognize the importance of 9-1-1, it’s ability to help save more lives, and increase the public’s confidence of local emergency response systems.


About NENA
A not-for-profit corporation, the National Emergency Number Association (NENA) is the only educational organization dedicated solely to the study, advancement and implementation of 9-1-1 as America’s universal emergency number. With the participation of a wide variety of stakeholders and public safety entities, NENA has an individual membership of more than 7,000 public safety executives, and is organized into 48 chapters.  The organization strives to provide an effective and accessible 9-1-1 service for North America, measuring its success in the lives saved by 9-1-1 each day. NENA also develops recommended operating standards and protocol for 9-1-1 services from its headquarters in Columbus, Ohio.

The NENA RCN Commission
NENA formed the Report Card to the Nation Commission to review and grade the performance of 9-1-1 services in the United States. The RCN Commission set the scope and developed the criteria for grading, and then designed and conducted a research effort to gather primary and secondary data on 9-1-1 service and the industry. NENA received support and assistance from the National Association of State 9-1-1 Administrators (NASNA), the Association of Public Safety Communications Officials, International (APCO), the American Heart Association (AHA), the Cellular Telecommunications and Internet Association, Intrado, SBC Communications, and others.


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Updated: 03/20/2002 02:35:13 PM -0500