House bill aims to modernize 911 systems

Proposed legislation in Congress that would promote implementation of IP-based 911 services is picking up support from public safety groups and disability organizations.

The 911 Modernization and Public Safety Act of 2007 (H.R. 3403), sponsored by Rep. Barton Gordon (D-Tenn.), seeks to facilitate rapid deployment of IP-enabled 911 services and IP-enabled enhanced wireless 911. It would extend enhanced 911 services to IP-based telephone services. The goal is to migrate today's 911 systems to new technologies.

HR 3403 won endorsements in recent weeks from several public safety groups, including the Association of Public-Safety Communications Officers International and the National Emergency Number Association, along with a coalition of disability groups, the Coalition of Organizations for Accessible Technology.

"Modern communication capabilities offer an opportunity to improve the system as we know it, but they also offer challenges," Jason Barbour, president of NENA, said in a news release. "The 911 community must embrace and react to change quickly, to better serve the American public, industry and the mobile consumer in all emergencies. We need help from Congress to do so."

Stakeholders affected by IP-enabled 911 implementation include state and local agencies; telecommunications service providers; and IP network, device and infrastructure providers. Other stakeholders are third-party service providers and software manufacturers, such as telematics and alarm monitoring companies.

Some service providers may see additional costs and requirements from the legislation; however, there also will be business opportunities for information technology contractors as 911 systems are upgraded.

About the Author

Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.

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