Feds Award Maryland $1.7M to Modernize 9-1-1

The U.S. Department of Commerce and the U.S. Department of Transportation last week announced more than $109 million in grants to 34 states and two tribal nations as part of the 911 Grant Program, which will help 9-1-1 call centers upgrade to Next Generation 9-1-1 (NG911) capabilities.

Maryland will receive $1,707,856 to power basic improvements such as providing digital and IP network capabilities to 9-1-1 emergency call centers and assist implementation of advanced mapping systems that will make it easier to identify a 9-1-1 caller’s location.

NG911 will help 9-1-1 call centers manage call overload, as call-takers will be able to transfer calls, messages, and data between public safety answering points that are interconnected to the IP network. The 9-1-1 Grant Program also provides funding for training costs directly related to NG911 implementation.

Grants were available to states, territories, tribal nations and the District of Columbia, provided that they successfully submitted a state 9-1-1 plan and project budget, designated a 9-1-1 coordinator, and certified that they did not use funds designated for 9-1-1 systems for other purposes in the past 180 days.

According to a press release:

“Advances in public safety technology will allow critical information to flow seamlessly from the public, through the 9-1-1 networks and on to first responders,” said U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross. “These 9-1-1 grant awards are a significant step toward a faster, more resilient emergency system.”

“These grants will boost public safety through 9-1-1 systems enhanced with new capabilities such as text message, image and video processing, advanced mapping and other improvements,” said U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine L. Chao.

The 9-1-1 Grant Program is jointly administered by the Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration and the Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. For further information on the 9-1-1 Grant Program, visit 911.gov and NTIA’s NG911 website.

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 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.

Stay tuned to Conduit Street for more information.

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: