California Makes New Push for Next Generation 9-1-1

For the past decade, California’s plan to upgrade its antiquated 9-1-1 system has mostly fallen flat. But Governor Gavin Newsom this week detailed a new, permanent funding source to accelerate the state’s transition to Next Generation 9-1-1 (NG911).

NG911 will enable the public to make voice, text, or video calls from any communications device via Internet Protocol-based networks. These capabilities can make public safety both more effective and more responsive.

“During my first week in office, I proposed making crucial updates to modernize our antiquated 9-1-1 system. The idea that it’s 2019, and we are using analog systems designed decades ago is astounding, and we need to make investments to make sure the technology aligns with the devices people are using in their daily lives,” said Governor Newsom.

According to Governor Newsom’s Office:

Over the past 12 months in California, there has been an average of thirteen 9-1-1 outages per month, which equates to 22,705 minutes when 9-1-1 was not available. In March of 2019, some portion of the 9-1-1 network was down for 61,534 minutes. Federal regulators estimate that saving a minute from emergency response times could save as many as 10,000 lives a year.

Newsom’s proposal, approved by California’s Legislature earlier this year, is expected to generate $175 million annually through a new fee on residents’ landlines and wireless devices. In addition to the new fee, the 2019 state budget includes $50 million to begin upgrading the state’s network of 9-1-1 systems.

Maryland’s Solution? Carl Henn’s Law

Earlier this year, Governor Larry Hogan signed SB 339/ HB 397, Public Safety – 9-1-1 Emergency Telephone System (Carl Henn’s Law), a 2019 MACo Legislative Initiative to update state laws, and the 9-1-1 financing system to provide the flexibility and resources needed for the deployment of a statewide Next Generation 9-1-1 (NG911) system.


Carl Henn’s Law was introduced at the request of the Commission to Advance Next Generation 9-1-1 Across Maryland. The legislation, sponsored by Senator Cheryl Kagan (Commission Chair), Senator Ed Reilly (Commissioner), Delegate Susan Krebs (Commissioner), and Delegate Michael Jackson (Commissioner), includes many of the Commission’s 23 unanimous recommendations.

Maryland residents demand and expect 9-1-1 emergency service to be reliable and efficient. Next-generation technology is required to keep up with this increasingly complex public safety function – improving wireless caller location, accommodating incoming text/video, and managing crisis-driven call overflows.

Carl Henn’s law will accelerate Maryland’s move toward NG911, deliver these essential services equitably across the state, and assure effective coordination with communications providers.

Maryland’s 9-1-1 fee structure was grossly insufficient to support the current 9-1-1 system, let alone the deployment of NG911. In fact, local 9-1-1 fees cover just 37% of statewide operational costs, with counties relying increasingly on general revenues to supplement 9-1-1 funding.

Carl Henn’s Law conforms Maryland’s fee structure to that of every other state, creating a reliable, forward-looking, and sustainable funding model to support both the current 9-1-1 system and the transition to NG911.

The Commission to Advance Next Generation 9-1-1 Across Maryland, a 2018 MACo Legislative Initiative, submitted its 2018 report to the Governor and General Assembly in December of last year. The report includes recommendations for the implementation, technology, funding, governance, and ongoing statewide development of Next Generation 9-1-1.

The Commission will continue its work over the next year to address other issues concerning the migration to NG911.

Want to learn more about NG911?

You’re in luck! MACo’s Summer Conference session, “New Look 9-1-1 – Everything Will Change… Except the Numbers, will discuss how Maryland is accelerating its move toward NG911, harnessing public safety industry leadership and expertise, and focusing on effective coordination with communications providers to deliver these essential services equitably across the state. The session is scheduled for Wednesday, August 14, 2019, from 11:00 am – 12:00 pm.

The MACo Summer Conference will be held August 14-17, 2019 at the Roland Powell Convention Center in Ocean City, Maryland. This year’s conference theme is “Winds of Change.”

Learn more about MACo’s Summer Conference: