|Liability for the 9-1-1 Data Base
by Attorney John H. Kelly and Captain Ronald Bonneau
Exposure to liability is a constant concern to all PSAP managers as they administer their 9-1-1 systems. What type of liability exists and how it attaches has often been a vague issue, particularly in the area of data base accuracy and its impact on 9-1-1 requests for service.
A recent United States District Court case, from the Northern District of Illinois, gives PSAP managers a clearer picture of liability and the 9-1-1 data base. The opinion of the US District Court will have significant impact on future 9-1-1 liability cases throughout the United States.
John Kelly, attorney for the Illinois Chapter of NENA, has followed the case carefully and provides the following brief:
This case involved a call by the Harrell family to the 9-1-1 answering point in the City of Chicago Heights, Illinois. Although Mr. Patrick Harrell and his spouse lived within the municipal boundaries of the City of Chicago Heights for more than twenty (20) years, their telephone number and address were not included in the Master Street Address Guide (MSAG). In spite of this, the Harrells were billed the surcharge of $1.00 on their monthly telephone bill for two years.
On July 11, 1993, Mr. Harrell suffered a heart attack in his Chicago Heights home. Several 9-1-1 calls were placed to the City of Chicago Heights 9-1-1 answering point requesting an ambulance. Because of the failure to include the Harrell’s address in the MSAG, there was a delay in the response of the ambulance to the Harrell home. Dispatchers at the Chicago Heights facility tried to determine the correct jurisdiction of the call. Finally an ambulance from a neighboring community responded and transported Mr. Harrell to the hospital. However, he died later that day.
In its ruling on motions filed prior to trial the United States District Court decided these important points:
1) The Court held that the provisions of the Illinois Local Government Tort Immunity Act (725 ILCS 10/5-101, 5-12) do not apply to 9-1-1 centers.
2) The court held that any immunity available to 9-1-1 centers was only available through the enabling legislation, in this case Section 15.1 of the Illinois Emergency Telephone System Act (50 ILCS 750/15-1). This immunity provides protection for errors unless they are the result of willful and wanton or intentional conduct. Similar laws may exist in other states.
3) The Court held that the conduct of the City of Chicago Heights may be found to be willful and wanton by a jury because of the following facts:
A) The City of Chicago Heights disregarded the safety of the Harrells by its failure to include them in the 9-1-1 data base. This is especially important because the Harrells presumed they were in the 9-1-1 response plan because their telephone bill reflected the surcharge.
4) The Court ruled the failure to provide 9-1-1 service was not a constitutional violation nor did the facts of the case support a civil rights violation.
5) The Court ruled the City of Chicago Heights contract with Ameritech, and the Illinois Commerce Commissions tariff referred to in that contract, imposed upon the City of Chicago Heights the primary responsibility of maintaining and updating the 9-1-1 data base. The phone company’s duty was only to make those corrections that were called to its attention by the City.
While this is only a partial decision from the US District Court and is subject to modification by trial or appeal, the case does highlight several crucial considerations in assessing the 9-1-1 center’s liability exposure.
In order to reduce the exposure to liability it is imperative that each element in the administration and management of the 9-1-1 data base be examined. Maintaining data base accuracy is a continual process in the 9-1-1 environment.
Initially, the data base records must be entered into the MSAG during the planning and implementing phase of 9-1-1 with a high degree of accuracy. The wise 9-1-1 manager will canvass the service area to determine if any locations have been omitted from the data base. Additionally, the 9-1-1 manager should determine if locations exist that are not accurately reflected in the data base. MSAG ranges must be mutually exclusive for exact locations within the service area.
Second, 9-1-1 managers must be ever vigilant of data base errors that occur as the system matures. Citizens or businesses moving into or out of the community, as well as the development of new subdivisions can greatly affect the accuracy of the data base. Many errors of this nature are detected by public safety telecommunicators handling incoming 9-1-1 calls. Any errors identified in this manner can subject the 9-1-1 system to liability if they are not corrected in a timely manner. Many phone companies provide data base correction forms. When errors are detected in the 9-1-1 data base, forms must be routed to the data base center and the entry corrected.
Additionally, the conscientious MSAG manager should determine that the correction has actually been implemented in the 9-1-1 data base through the use of some type of feedback or check form.
The actual addresses contained in the 9-1-1 data base should be cross-correlated to all actual locations within the jurisdiction served by the 9-1-1 center. Checking this data base may also include periodic random calls. While this can be a time consuming and exhaustive process, care must be taken to determine that the area served by the 9-1-1 center and the addresses contained therein are the same.
In the Harrell case, the US District Court held the 9-1-1 center specifically responsible for the maintenance of an accurate data base. The US District Court laid the blame for any errors in the data base at the feet of the public safety agency and not the telephone service provider. It is imperative that 9-1-1 managers strive to obtain and maintain an accurate data base if this liability is to be minimized.
John H. Kelly is a partner with Ottosen, Sinson, Trevarthen, Britz & Dooley, Ltd., of Chicago, Illinois. Mr. Kelly represents several regional 9-1-1 dispatch centers and is general counsel to the Illinois Chapter of NENA. He has been a presenter at both the national and state NENA conferences.
Drafting an Effective Request for Proposal
“Garbage in, garbage out.” Most everyone is familiar with this computer term. It reminds us that no matter how fast or sophisticated our computer systems are, the output we receive will only be as good as the information and programming we put in.
A more appropriate maxim for putting a Request for Proposal on the street would be “garbage out, garbage in.” All too often, a need for outside help is identified and someone suggests sending out a Request for Proposal (RFP). They believe if they send out an RFP, the most qualified contractors will prepare a low-cost bid and identify the best solution. So they draft a brief RFP and wait for the most qualified contractors to beat a path to their door. It is not going to happen. Qualified consulting firms will not want to waste the resources to prepare a bid with the little information in a poorly written RFP.
With increasing budget and staff cuts, technology becoming more sophisticated daily and government mandates to comply with, more and more emergency service centers are seeking outside consulting and contracting help to meet their needs. This is especially true when it comes to procuring a consultant for Enhanced 9-1-1 services. The first and possibly most critical step is to write an effective RFP. Unfortunately, often too little time is spent on this process.
The main goal in writing an RFP is to attract the most qualified consulting firms who put forth their best solution in a competitive bid. The idea is to get out as much information as possible in a uniform format to qualified consultants. Thus, the firm that best meets your needs may be selected.
Once this has been accomplished, it is time to draft the RFP. It may be helpful to find another emergency response center who recently filled a similar need using an RFP to procure a consulting firm, and use their RFP as a draft guideline.
Areas that need be addressed in the Request for Proposal
Purpose: Outline information on the project, general requirements, identify the issuing office and contact person and briefly outline evaluation criteria. All information needed by the vendors to initially assess their ability to respond to the RFP should be included here.
Information Requirements: Cover procedural information for pre-proposal conferences, inquiries for additional information and addenda procedures. Explain how information will be distributed after the release of the RFP to ensure all bidding vendors receive it.
Scope of the Project: This section may be included here or at the end of the RFP. It should outline exactly what tasks the contracting firm is expected to accomplish. It should break these down into sub-tasks and identify what is to be delivered at the completion of the task.
Proposal Requirements: Supply the necessary information on how to respond to the RFP and give requirements for submitting the bids.
Project Staffing: Request the vendor supply organizational information for staffing the project. The purpose is to find out the personnel responsible for each step of the project. You should also request contact information and resumes be included for key personnel. This information may be requested in the form of a Gant chart.
References: Require the vendor submit names, addresses and phone numbers for five or more references with who they have had a working and/or professional relationship. You may request some or all of these be for similar projects.
Schedule of Work: Request the vendor describe what approach they will take for completing this project. It should be broken into steps with a completion date for accomplishing each step.
Fee Schedule: Inform vendors of the options on how they may be compensated for their work. This may be lump sum, payment by schedule of work, monthly, etc. Establishing this up-front will aid in uniformity of proposals.
Evaluation and Selection: List the type and importance of evaluation criteria and give a brief outline of the selection process. The selection process should include dates for proof of concept demonstrations, presentations, contract award, etc.
Vendor Agreement or Contract Terms: If you have a set contract agreement for dealing with vendors, you should include this here.
Many of the sections above could and should be broken down into subsections. Any other information or requirements your emergency services center has should be added in the form of an additional section heading. Prior to publishing the Request for Proposal it should be reviewed by the agency’s legal representative for additional details.
Once the RFP has been completed, it is time to decide who should receive a copy. If a list of vendors is maintained, then a copy should be sent to these firms. The Request for Proposal information should be published in trade magazines to attract the most qualified bidders. Include contact information and a brief project description. RFPs requesting bidders for Enhanced 9-1-1 or other emergency response projects should be advertised in NENA News and other trade magazines.
After all bids have been received, members of the review team should open and evaluate the proposals. Proposals should first be evaluated against the RFP. Once prospective vendors have been narrowed down to a shorter list, the review team should do background information, check references and schedule presentations. Weighing all information, a vendor may be selected and contract negotiations started.
Procuring outside help for project completion is never an easy task. However, investing the necessary time in writing an effective Request for Proposal will pay the dividend of being well on your way to successful project completion.
Philip A. Bruley is Manager, E9-1-1 Systems for Aerial Images, Inc. He has served as consultant/contractor for national and international E9-1-1 projects, having 8 successful project completions to date. He can be reached at [email protected].
With the present climate of downsizing and budget cuts, governmental entities are taking a second look at their operations and creating more efficient ways to use their capital and operating budgets. With this as a precursor, governments are looking at radio communications, public safety answering points (PSAPs), 9-1-1 staffing, and a variety of other issues to trim their budgets. One option many jurisdictions are considering is consolidation; the creation of multi-jurisdictional services.
Consolidation strikes fear in many because it sounds like the latest politically correct word for cutbacks. However this is not always the case. In North Carolina, when the City of Kinston and Lenoir County officials investigated consolidating their PSAP services, they found that no positions would be lost. For many local governments consolidation simply means combining the resources of two or more areas. Linsey Laws, Director of Communications for Lenoir County, North Carolina, said that the City of Kinston and Lenoir County were interested in consolidating because centralized communication services would better serve the two communities, bringing higher levels of service to the citizens. Consolidation can improve the quality of service to the communities by utilizing pooled resources and personnel.
There are three interacting entities that must be taken into consideration when examining consolidation: the call taker PSAP, the dispatch unit, and the delivery (radio) system. The PSAP function interacts with the public to gain information, which then is entered into a main computer system. The second entity is the dispatch function. Dispatchers receive information from the PSAP and alert the appropriate rescue units. Lastly, the delivery system is the actual radio system which is used to facilitate communication between the dispatcher and the rescue units. The delivery system can be as simple as separate conventional radio systems for specific departments or it may be the latest 800 MHZ trunked radio system which services multiple departments.
Jurisdictions can either fully consolidate their emergency operations, or as Lenoir County and the City of Kinston did, partially consolidate functions. This decision needs to be researched carefully to see what would best serve the individual communities. Due to different land masses, populations, and unique characteristics of every jurisdiction, it is easy to understand why special consideration must be taken into account for every situation.
With ample investigation, it will become clear which option will best serve the individual communities. Often, after careful consideration and review, jurisdictions may discover that the higher level of service received through consolidating all of their facilities would add cost. However, consolidating one function, such as the dispatch function, would be in their best interest considering quality of service and cost. The size of a jurisdiction can often be a factor in which function is consolidated. Smaller jurisdictions, where dispatchers have multiple responsibilities, often conclude that combining their dispatch functions would increase cost. Due to multiple job duties, if the dispatch function is consolidated additional personnel may have to be hired to fill the demands associated with a larger facility and combined jurisdictions.
Having a centralized operation can be a rewarding move, however it can be challenging. One obvious hurdle is successfully moving all equipment and personnel into one facility and planning an appropriate back-up system. If a fire or flood happens, making the facility unusable, the surrounding areas could be without service until the problem is rectified. Normally this scenario is avoided by establishing a secondary PSAP, which is prewired for the 9-1-1 trunks and activated upon demand. The cost associated with central and back-up operations are generally less expensive because of divided financial responsibility. Similarly, upgrading equipment is more feasible with pooled resources.
9-1-1 Network Reliability
Creating and planning a 9-1-1 center network that runs efficiently and provides premium service is similar to staying out of the sand traps on a golf course. Combining facilities must be executed with skill or the project will fail.
There are some general rules to follow when combining facilities which will help you stay out of trouble. The tandem switch providing the E9-1-1 trunks should not be co-located nor serve a PSAP from the same central office where the PSAP gets its seven digit administrative numbers. Why? If the central office is disrupted, you may lose the 9-1-1 trunks and the seven digit spill over service. You want the choice to use the network’s flexibility to reroute your calls around the disruption while still keeping your 9-1-1 center operating. To do this, self healing Sonnet rings should route the 9-1-1 trunk group over to the non-emergency seven-digit number.
Combining personnel can be as tricky as building a reliable facility. If you are considering consolidating, you must be prepared to create new policies and protocols for management and personnel. Procedures must have a consensus from all parties involved, which can be easy or difficult depending on the people with which you are working. Generally, the best way to do this is by drawing on the separate management manuals and guidelines from the jurisdictions to create a combined procedural manual. Once all the details and procedures are solidified, training, promoting, and managing will flow with greater ease; often leading to an enriched work environment and an increase in productivity. Furthermore, managing emergencies can be handled more smoothly due to pooled resources and harmonious procedures. With proper work shops, interaction, training and leadership, the chances of ending up in sand traps are significantly decreased.
Government today, with constrained budgets, must operate with an emphasis on cost effective practices. Pooled resources contribute to lower facility costs and help to upgrade equipment. Procedures dealing with management and personnel are enhanced and can increase productivity and the work environment. This is why the consolidation of facilities is becoming a topic for a greater number of local governments. There are many benefits associated with multi-jurisdictional systems, however, doing proper research is necessary to keep out of the sand traps and to successfully combine emergency operations.
Frederick G. Griffin, P.C., is president of Frederick G. Griffin P.C., a professional communications engineering firm that has served local governments for over 25 years.
Danielle Johnson has been working at Frederick G. Griffin P.C. as a business and marketing intern. She recently graduated from Randolph-Macon Woman’s College with a degree in Business and Economics.
NENA 1996 Annual Report
This year’s Annual Report is included in the NENA News as a cost saving measure. The credit for producing this report goes to Bill Stanton and the staff at headquarters.
It has been my privilege to be involved with NENA, and I encourage you to become involved as well. There are many opportunities in your local chapter and there is always something going at the national level. NENA’s web site offers opportunities for participation without leaving your home or office. Find something to be a part of. It will enrich your career and improve the emergency number system in your locale.
On behalf of the Executive Board and the staff at headquarters, I hope you find this report beneficial. Please let us know how it can be improved to better serve your needs.
NENA Welcomes 5000th member in 1996!
There was cause for celebration when NENA Headquarters received the membership application of Robert Sturgill of Sprint Mid-Atlantic in Bristol, Tennessee – he became our 5000 member! NENA’s membership has more than doubled the last four years, and grew by 224 in 1996 to 5,081.
Four new NENA Chapters were formed since our last annual report: Oklahoma, Idaho, New Mexico and Connecticut, bringing the total number of NENA Chapters to 41. Pennsylvania and Virginia worked very hard last year to revitalize their Chapters and have seen significant growth in activities and the number of members.
Our members are our strength. From our membership we draw the volunteers and expertise for all of our programs. We appreciate your commitment to NENA and our mission, “One Nation – One Number.”
The NENA certification program, which recognizes professional achievement, took a giant step on April 12 with the administration of the first Emergency Number Professional examination. The first ENPs will be presented at the Baltimore Conference in June. The second exam of 1997 will be given October 18.
“We had hoped to attract 100 applicants for the first exam,” stated Bill Munn, who has chaired the Certification Committee since its inception in the Spring of 1994. “As of today, 130 have signed up for the first exam, which will be given nationwide.”
The ENP program has received a boost in the form of corporate sponsors, who have each contributed funds. These funds have allowed NENA to meet travel expenses incurred in bringing together over 100 experts in the field of emergency telecommunications and public safety communications to write and review portions of the first two exams. Corporate sponsors include SCC, Inc., Northern Telecom, TCI, Inc., and Plant Equipment.
“We foresee the ENP becoming a measure of professional competence and achievement, not a status symbol,” says Munn.
The firm of Mathis and Associates, Inc., of Omaha has worked with the NENA leadership to develop the guidelines for the content outline to be tested and in the selection of the firm contracted to perform the actual testing. The firm of Professional Testing, Inc., of New York City, is under contract with NENA to develop and administer the test.
The NENA Institute
The year marked the birth of a new organization within NENA, the NENA Institute, whose purpose is to administer the Emergency Number Professional certification program. The Institute Board held its first meeting during the Denver conference, and met again in Fort Worth in November, 1996.
Prior to the current year, the certification efforts were coordinated by the Certification Committee, working through the NENA Board. In order to meet the standards of national certifying organizations, however, a governing body apart from NENA’s Executive Board was necessary.
According to certifying agency standards, the Institute has a Board of Directors and a set of bylaws. Current Board members are:
President – Bill Munn
Mike Petricca fills the position of Immediate Past President as NENA’s immediate past president, since this marks the first year of the Institute.
Education and Training
1996 was a year of significant accomplishments for NENA’s Education and Training Program. We published two books, Managing the 9-1-1 Center by Eric Parry, and Public Education in 9-1-1 by Jim Blackmore. An additional book, Human Resource Management in 9-1-1 is scheduled to debut at the 1997 NENA Annual Conference in Baltimore.
NENA’s courses continue to be popular. We have offered the 9-1-1 Puzzle course, the E9-1-1 Data Base course, and the Managing the 9-1-1 Center course at the Annual Conference, Chapter Conferences, and other locations throughout the U.S. Over 800 people attended NENA courses last year, eager to learn more about 9-1-1. We are working with chapter presidents to schedule courses for the remainder of 1997 and into 1998.
The material found in NENA’s courses and books helps support our Certification Program. We are working with the NENA Institute Board to ensure that all supporting materials are available to those who prepare for the exam.
Under the guidance of the Education Committee, we are developing a new product, a Technical Issues Series, to be introduced in 1998. The Technical Issues Series will be a collection of papers devoted to generic issues such as wireless and ALECs. The purpose is not only to provide timely information on key issues, but to encourage dialogue and frequent updates to the write-ups as new information becomes available.
Learning about 9-1-1 is fun for children. NENA now offers the 9-1-1: How It’s Done teaching materials for use in pre-school and kindergarten public education. Featuring the popular Buzzy character developed by BellSouth, each teacher’s guide includes a cassette describing the proper use of 9-1-1, reusable stickers, and a telephone keypad so kids can practice dialing 9-1-1. Call the National Office for information on how to order the teacher’s guide.
We are always open to suggestions for new courses and books that will add to NENA’s Education and Training Program. Please call the National Office if you have any ideas.
Conferences & Awards
The 1996 NENA Annual Conference was held in Denver, Colorado in June. The Denver Conference featured over 60 education workshops on a wide range of 9-1-1 topics. Over 2200 attendees and exhibitors enjoyed the Rocky Mountain hospitality of our Colorado host chapter, and our sponsors U S West and SCC Communications Corp. The trade show was our best yet with 106 companies exhibiting the latest and best products and services available to the 9-1-1 industry.
The 3rd Annual Telco/Vendor Conference was held in February in Fort Worth, Texas. 330 attendees came together to work on challenges facing the telephone companies and vendors on the topics of Wireless, ALEC, Data Base, Network and CPE.
NENA President Mike Petricca presented the first-ever NENA President’s Awards for outstanding service to NENA and the 9-1-1 industry at the 1996 conference in Denver. The recipients were:
Where is the one place you can get instant access to information like:
The NENA web site started about a year and a half ago and has had approximately 15,000 visits. It has grown from about six topic areas to sixteen and even has on-line discussion groups for 9-1-1 topics. You no longer need to sift through page after page trying to find what’s new. There is a “What’s New” section that runs down everything that has recently been updated. Come and see the great resources that “www.nena9-1-1.org” has to offer.
A special thanks goes out to our web advertising companies, Lanier Worldwide, CML Technologies, PSA, Positron Industries, and JECH TECH. Without great companies supporting NENA, projects like the NENA web site would not be possible. Please contact Tim Rorris, NENA Webmaster, today to get details on how your company can support NENA’s web site or if you have any comments or questions at: [email protected] or call at 614-459-7707. Happy surfing!
NENA News and Connections
Updates of FCC rulings; ideas for public education programs; reports on wireless trials; information regarding NENA activities, such as training programs and certification updates; local and regional news. Where can you find it? In NENA’s two membership publications, NENA News and Connections. Both are published quarterly to keep members informed about what’s going on at NENA headquarters, and what is going on within the 9-1-1 industry.
A second edition of NENA News reprints, organized by topic, is now available from the NENA office. And check out the NENA web page for articles from the most recent issues of NENA News. Download and read away!
All articles are written by volunteer contributors, most of whom are NENA members. We are indebted to these people for sharing their time and knowledge.
NENA Manages NTIA Grant Program
In October, 1995, NENA was awarded a two-year $65,950 grant from the Telecommunications and Information Infrastructure Assistance Program (TIIAP) of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA). The grant was to develop a data base of latitude/longitude boundaries for PSAPs in the U.S. and to allow that data base to be accessed interactively. Assisting NENA as a subcontractor is Public Safety Associates (PSA), a Texas firm specializing in data base development.
NENA and PSA have now completed the development of the PSAP boundary file, which is being used by a number of companies to assist in the location of callers who request assistance. Primary usage of the boundary file is by firms who provide emergency and non-emergency service to vehicles equipped with GPS systems.
Those interested in learning more about the program and how to access NENA’s PSAP boundary file should contact the National Office.
Wireless and Privacy Legislation Added to the National Resource Center
NENA is continuing to provide members with valuable resource materials to help you meet the challenges of 9-1-1. Now, in addition to the Telecommunicator training standards and legislation that were introduced last year, NENA President John Ellison has directed National Resource Center chairperson Bill Hinkle to add wireless and privacy legislation and information to the web site.
In order to bring you up-to-date information regarding these issues, the entire country was surveyed. Legislative data, along with related articles and drafts were collected and added to NENA’s web site. So meet us on the web and click on your state or any other, for training, wireless and privacy information. Let us know if we have missed something in your state. We welcome your comments, thoughts and suggestions.
NENA is pleased to announce that the following standards have been approved by the NENA Executive Board during the past year. Our thanks to the following committees for their teamwork and commitment: the Data Technical Committee, chaired by Judy Cortiana; the PSAP/CPE Technical Committee, chaired by Billy Ragsdale; the Information Sharing Study Group of the Private Switch/ALEC Technical Committee, chaired by Roger Hixson; and the Wireless/Network Committee, chaired by Bob Gojanovich.
NENA Recommended Measurements for Data Quality (NENA-02-004) sets forth NENA Recommended Measurements for Data Quality for any 9-1-1 system that provides information for data display. It defines measurements which will support meaningful computations to allow for better understanding of data base quality and the timeliness of data base updates.
NENA Recommended Standards For Local Service Providers (NENA 02-005) sets forth NENA standards for all Local Service Providers involved in providing dial tone to end users. The term Local Service Provider is defined to encompass all companies providing dial tone (LSP) to end users, including but not limited to Incumbent Local Exchange Carriers (ILEC), Alternative Local Exchange Carriers (ALEC) and PBX providers.
This document defines the provisioning requirements for E9-1-1 data integrity, content, and call delivery regardless of dial tone provider. It is the goal of these standards to support current and future development consistent with the concept of “One Nation – One Number.” See also related standards document NENA 06-001, NENA Recommended Standards for Local Service Provider Interconnection Information Sharing.
NENA-04-001 Generic Standards for E9-1-1 PSAP Equipment was approved by NENA’s Executive Board in June, 1996, to become a NENA Standard and recommended industry standard. This document is comprehensive in nature and covers many things such as technical requirements for interface capability, feature requirement specifications, physical and electrical environment requirements and quality and reliability requirements. This standard is designed to ensure compatibility and reliability of conventional PSAP/CPE.
NENA-04-002 NENA PSAP Master Clock Standard, developed by the PSAP/CPE Committee, was approved by the NENA Executive Board in January 1996 and recommended for industry standard. This standard insures consistency of time stamps added to event records, reports and voice recordings by requiring CAD, ANI/ALI Controllers, Voice Recorder, Radio Consoles, etc., to have the ability to synchronize their internal clocks to a PSAP master clock which shall be traceable to Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) and have a continuous accuracy of .1 seconds relative to UTC when locked to the UTC time source.
NENA-06-001, Recommended Standards for Local Service Provider Interconnection Information Sharing, was approved by the NENA Board in March, 1997. This document is now available from NENA in printed form. The Information Sharing standards were developed to support both the new originating local service provider companies, and the associated telephone companies providing E9-1-1 service to the PSAPs.
Other Standards in the Works
The NENA PSAP/CPE Technical Committee is presently developing a Standard for Basic Rate Interface (BRI) ISDN for E9-1-1 PSAP Equipment. The target date for completion is 4th quarter of 1997. Update status will be provided at the NENA conference in June.
Questions concerning these pending Standards can be directed to: Billy Ragsdale, NENA PSAP/CPE Technical Committee Chair and NENA Technical Liaison,
Issues Facing NENA in 1997
As we move forward into 1997, NENA has a number of major issues to deal with.
Docket 94-102 Wireless and MLTS 9-1-1 Compatibility
In October 1996, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), at the urging of public safety organizations including NENA, proposed rules that would permit the automatic number and location identification (ANI and ALI) of callers from cellular and other wireless phones and from Multiline Telephone Systems (MLTS), which include Private Branch Exchanges (PBXs) and Key Telephone Systems (KTS). NENA joined with APCO and the National Association of State Nine One One Administrators (NASNA) in support of most of the FCC’s proposals. A year ago, these public safety organizations joined with the Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association (CTIA) in a “Consensus” modification of some of the FCC’s suggested ANI/ALI rules for wireless compatibility and brought their agreement to the federal agency.
The wireless compatibility order of last July essentially puts the ball in the court of local and state public safety agencies – and likely of the state legislatures as well. This is because the ANI/ALI requirements imposed on wireless carriers will not apply unless: (a) the PSAP or PSAPs in the carrier’s area have requested Phase I or Phase II services and have shown their ability to receive and use the pertinent ANI/ALI information; and (b) a “funding mechanism” is in place to reimburse carriers for any needed upgrades of their systems to achieve the Phase I or Phase II levels of performance.
NENA emphasized this local and state responsibility in a letter to all PSAP managers, dated January 9, 1997, and signed by Executive Director Bill Stanton. Enclosed with the letter was a “Checklist” of steps to take in bringing together public safety authorities, wireless and wireline carriers, and vendors of compatibility systems and equipment, as well as a brief set of the most commonly expected questions and answers.
Docket 92-105 – “N-1-1” Dialing for Non-Emergency Police Calls
Responding to a suggestion from President Clinton, the Department of Justice’s Office of Community Oriented Policing has asked the FCC to assign “3-1-1” as a number that could be used nationally for non-emergency access to police services. A principal basis for the DOJ proposal is the assertion that 9-1-1 access is so congested with non-emergency calls that the true emergency business is being impeded. NENA responded immediately last August, in a letter from President John Ellison to President Clinton, pointing to several problems with the suggestion. First, in most areas, 9-1-1 access is not overwhelmed and, even in cases of congestion, these tend to be sporadic rather than persistent. Second, abbreviated dialing does not solve the real difficulty, which is staffing to answer calls of both kinds, emergency and non-emergency. Third, systems to route “N-1-1” calls are expensive, especially considering that conventional 7-digit numbers are available for non-emergency use, which by definition does not require speed dialing. The FCC has not yet acted on the DOJ request.
Docket 96-45 – Universal Service
In 1996 legislation amending the Communications Act, Congress generally mandated locally the kind of competition we already have seen in long-distance calling over the past 10 or 15 years. One of the aspects of the legislation involves new means of collecting and distributing subsidies intended to make telephone service “universal,” especially by making it affordable in rural and other high-cost areas. Part of the FCC’s task was to define a group of “core” basis telephone services which any carrier expecting to receive subsidies would have to offer. NENA urged that 9-1-1 and E9-1-1 services, where adopted locally, plus touch-tone dialing, should be included in the core, and thus far the Federal-State Joint Board has agreed. The FCC is expected to ratify the Board’s recommendations.
Competition is causing a growth in the number of alternate local exchange providers. This means that where you may have had only one phone company offering local service to your home or business, you may soon have additional carriers vying to serve you. This sounds great because local competition usually means lower costs.
One of the complexities of implementing this competitive service is the transferring of data from the data base of one carrier to another carrier’s data base, i.e. name, address, etc. Arrangements must be made to access the ALI (Automatic Location Identification) data base on every 9-1-1 call. Who will maintain this data base? Will there only be one ALI data base? What if one carrier feels that it is more beneficial to develop their own ALI data base? What will happen to the integrity of the ALI data base?
This ALI data base cannot afford to be in error in any manner. This data literally is the life saving portion of 9-1-1. It must remain as pure as humanly possible.
Portability – Docket 95-116
This docket will most probably continue to become more active in 1997. NENA filed comments on October 12, 1995. In the comments NENA made the following points:
|Copyright 1997–NENA News Magazine