MACo to Governor: Sign MACo’s 9-1-1 Initiative Bill

MACo sent a letter to Governor Hogan today, urging him to sign HB 634/SB 285 – Commission to Advance Next Generation 9-1-1 Across Maryland – Establishment, a 2018 MACo Legislative Initiative that unanimously passed both the Senate and House of Delegates. This legislation is essential to ensure that Maryland is prepared for the deployment of a statewide Next Generation 9-1-1 (NG911) system that our residents expect and deserve.

Maryland citizens 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. Maryland must accelerate its move toward NG911, deliver these essential services equitably across the state, and assure effective coordination with communications providers.

From the MACo Letter:

Today, the key underpinnings of the legacy 9-1-1 framework are based on the same wireline, analog, circuit-switched technology that was the foundation of the original 9-1-1 architecture in 1968. Aside from an enhanced data environment and the ability to support wireless and Internet telephony, the system has not significantly changed in more than 40 years.

In order to close this gap and benefit from the monumental advancements that are taking place in commercial communications, this bill establishes the Commission to Advance Next Generation 9-1-1 (NG911) Across Maryland. MACo believes this legislation is vital for the development of a statewide strategy to create a common framework for the implementation of NG911 in Maryland.

The Commission will examine the strategic aspects of NG911 implementation in coordination with the existing efforts of the Emergency Number Systems Board (ENSB), with a particular emphasis on addressing areas outside of the statutory responsibilities of the ENSB. The Commission will study and make recommendations for the implementation, technology, funding, governance, and ongoing statewide development of NG911 to the Governor and Maryland General Assembly.

In the letter, MACo praises Governor Hogan for his leadership on the Maryland Text to 9-1-1 Initiative:

The importance of this legislation cannot be overstated. Counties applaud your leadership on the Text to 9-1-1 initiative, and hope to build upon that momentum as we work to implement NG911 in Maryland. MACo as an organization stands ready to work with you, your Appointments Office, and other stakeholders to populate the Commission quickly, so they can begin their important work.

Counties encourage efforts to enhance emergency communications in Maryland. SB 285/HB 634 urges a statewide effort to guide this critical transition, harnessing public safety industry leadership and expertise to address complex public safety concerns.

Read the full MACo letter online.

Read MACo’s testimony on HB 634/SB285.

Round-up of the 2018 Session for Counties

MACo’s legislative efforts earned an 80% success rate – and as usual, the counties’ voice makes a difference in Annapolis. Bills we support are more likely to pass, and bills we oppose are more likely to fail.

2018 Legislative Results Infographic

MACo’s legislative initiatives, priorities, and positions are directed by its Legislative Committee. This body comprises elected representatives from all of MACo’s members – the 24 county jurisdictions (including Baltimore City).

The “one county, one vote” system of deciding the Association’s legislative strategies, ensures that all counties have an equal voice. All 24 jurisdictions participated regularly in the weekly meetings throughout the session – where they also engaged with policy leaders and advocates who joined the meeting to address county leadership.

Our policy staff have compiled updates and results on all of the bills the Legislative Committee decided to take action on this year.

For the 2018 End of Session Wrap-up for each subject MACo covers, click below:

2018 End of Session Wrap-Up: Assessments and Taxation

2018 End of Session Wrap-Up: Business Affairs

2018 End of Session Wrap-Up: Disparity Grants

2018 End of Session Wrap-up: Economic Development Tax Credits

2018 End of Session Wrap-Up: Education

2018 End of Session Wrap-Up: Elections

2018 End of Session Wrap-Up: Employee Benefits & Relations

2018 End of Session Wrap-Up: Environmental Legislation

2018 End of Session Wrap-Up: Finance and Procurement

2018 End of Session Wrap-Up: Government Liability & Courts

2018 End of Session Wrap-Up: Health & Human Services

2018 End of Session Wrap-Up: Housing & Community Development

2018 End of Session Wrap-Up: Intergovernmental Relations *MACo Initiative Area*

2018 End of Session Wrap-Up: Parks & Recreation

2018 End of Session Wrap-Up: Pensions

2018 End of Session Wrap-Up: Planning & Zoning

2018 End of Session Wrap-Up: Property Taxes

2018 End of Session Wrap-Up: Public Information & Ethics * MACo Initiative Area *

2018 End of Session Wrap-Up: Public Safety and Corrections

2018 End of Session Wrap-Up: Road Funding * MACo Initiative Area *

2018 End of Session Wrap-Up: School Construction * MACo Initiative Area *

2018 End of Session Wrap-Up: State Budget & Fiscal Affairs

2018 End of Session Wrap-Up: Tax Sale Bills

2018 End of Session Wrap-Up: Transportation and Public Works

2018 End of Session Wrap-up: Wynne Tax Bills

2018 End of Session Wrap-Up: County Tax Revenues

2018 End of Session Wrap-Up: Other Tax Bills

Hackers Target Baltimore City 9-1-1 Dispatch System

Baltimore City’s 9-1-1 dispatch system was breached by hackers last weekend. The breach lasted for 16 hours and was perpetrated by an unknown actor or actors. An investigation is underway.

Mayor Catherine Pugh’s office emphasized that the incident was a “limited breach” and that critical services were not impacted or disrupted. The breach forced details from incoming callers seeking emergency support to be relayed manually, instead of electronically. Technicians were able to isolate the affected server and now the systems have been fully restored.

According to The Baltimore Sun:

City personnel “identified a limited breach” of the CAD system, which supports the city’s 911 and 311 services, about 8:30 a.m. Sunday, Frank Johnson, chief information officer in the Mayor’s Office of Information Technology, said in a statement.

Johnson said 911 and 311 “were temporarily transitioned to manual mode” and continued to operate without disruption.

“This effectively means that instead of details of incoming callers seeking emergency support being relayed to dispatchers electronically, they were relayed by call center support staff manually,” Johnson said.

Cyber attacks are a major concern for 9-1-1 call centers across the country. The transition to Next Generation 9-1-1 (NG911) provides an opportunity for stakeholders to collaborate and share best practice information.

HB 634/SB 285 – Commission to Advance Next Generation 9-1-1 Across Maryland – Establishment, a 2018 MACo Legislative Initiative, creates a Commission to look at the strategic aspects of NG911 implementation in coordination with the Emergency Numbers Systems Board’s (ENSB) existing efforts, particularly ensuring that those areas outside of the statutory responsibilities of the ENSB are addressed.

The Commission will study and make recommendations for the implementation, technology, funding, governance, and ongoing statewide development of NG911 to the Governor and Maryland General Assembly. One of the charges of the Commission is to make recommendations on how to best anticipate and prevent cybersecurity threats to NG911 infrastructure. The bill has passed both chambers of the Maryland General Assembly.

Useful Links

Previous Conduit Street Coverage: General Assembly Passes MACo 9-1-1 Initiative

Previous Conduit Street Coverage: Malware Disrupts 9-1-1 Call Centers in 12 States

General Assembly Passes MACo 9-1-1 Initiative

The General Assembly today took a major step towards advancing Next Generation 9-1-1 in Maryland. Senate Bill 285, sponsored by Senator Cheryl Kagan, passed the Senate unanimously on February 20. Its cross-file, House Bill 634, sponsored by Delegate Michael Jackson, passed the House of Delegates unanimously on March 15. SB 285/ HB 634 is a 2018 MACo Legislative Initiative.

Maryland citizens 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. Maryland must accelerate its move toward Next Generation 9-1-1, deliver these essential services equitably across the state, and assure effective coordination with communications providers.

The bill establishes the Commission to Advance Next Generation 9-1-1 Across Maryland. The Commission will look at the strategic aspects of Next Generation 9-1-1 implementation in coordination with the Emergency Numbers Systems Board’s (ENSB) existing efforts, particularly ensuring that those areas outside of the statutory responsibilities of the ENSB are addressed. The Commission will study and make recommendations for the implementation, technology, funding, governance, and ongoing statewide development of Next Generation 9-1-1 to the Governor and Maryland General Assembly.

Stay tuned to Conduit Street for more information.

Useful Links

Previous Conduit Street Coverage: MACo Initiative: Next Gen 9-1-1 Commission Would Guide MD Forward

Previous Conduit Street Coverage: Washington Post Op-Ed: Bring 9-1-1 Into the 21st Century

Conduit Street Podcast: 9-1-1 Takes Center Stage, Huge Drop of Bills Introduced, Sick Leave Law Looms, and Senate Changes Afoot

MACo testimony on Senate Bill 285

Conduit Street Podcast: “Crossover” Coming, Fiscal Follow-Up, Body Cameras Back-And-Forth, and More!

On the latest episode of the Conduit Street Podcast, Kevin Kinnally and Michael Sanderson discuss the looming “crossover” deadline, review the latest on the State’s fiscal plan, break down MACo’s Legislative Initiative to modernize the Maryland Public Information Act, and look ahead as the dust begins to settle on the 2018 session. MACo has made the podcast available through both iTunes and Google Play Music by searching Conduit Street Podcast. You can also listen on our Conduit Street blog with a recap and link to the podcast.

Listen here:

“Crossover” Deadline

As the unofficial deadline for passing legislation out of its original chamber approaches, both the Senate and House are awash with lengthy agendas and long floor sessions. The “crossover” date is Monday, and bills passed out after that date will be forced to go to the Rules Committee of the second chamber, a procedural hurdle impeding their chances of final passage.

State Fiscal Plan

The Senate passed SB 185, the Budget Bill, and SB 187, the Budget Reconciliation and Financing Act of 2018 (“BRFA”) – both with good news for Maryland counties.

As proposed by the Governor, the budget included shifting nearly all costs of the State Department of Assessments and Taxation (SDAT)’s assessment and directorial functions to counties, forevermore. The Senate struck this language from the BRFA.

The Governor’s original proposal also included flat funding local health departments at the previous year’s levels. The Senate cut that language, too– instead increasing the funding according to the formula in existing law.

The Senate has also approved all funds included in the original budget for local roads funding: $178.1 million in highway user revenues, in addition to $53.7 million in additional local transportation grants. This includes a full $27.8 million to 23 counties, which is $15 million more than the Senate approved last year.

The applicable House Appropriations subcommittees have also recommended retaining all local roads funding in the budget, scrapping any language to shift additional SDAT costs to counties, and increasing local health department funding. The full committee considers the budget bills on Friday.

Modernizing the Public Information Act

Maryland’s Public Information Act creates a balanced framework for guaranteeing public access to open information, while protecting sensitive and private material. The rapid ascension of new technologies has strained the implementation and effect of these laws – potentially chilling their otherwise beneficial use. Maryland should clarify and reframe its Public Information Act to better accommodate citizen electronic engagement, personal surveillance footage from first responders and other county officials, and the release of sensitive personal information.

SB 788 – Public Information Act – Revisions, a 2018 Legislative Initiative, received a favorable report from the Senate Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs Committee and the full Senate may vote on the bill this week. The bill’s cross-file, HB 1638, was heard in the House Health and Government Operations Committee on March 7. The Committee has not taken action on the bill.

You can listen to previous episodes of the Conduit Street Podcast on our website.

Baltimore County Announces Mobile BaltCoGo App

New App Puts County Services at Your Fingertips

Baltimore County announced the launch of BaltCoGo, a new County application for mobile devices that allows residents to easily request services, report issues in their community, pay property taxes and parking and speeding tickets, access news and social media feeds, register for push notifications and more. The app is offered free of charge to Android and iPhone users and may be downloaded from their respective app stores.

According to a press release:

“This is another step forward in our commitment to innovation and applying technology across County government to improve customer service and efficiency,” said [Baltimore County Executive Kevin] Kamenetz. “Most people use their phones for just about everything and BaltCoGo is a great tool for quickly reaching out to the County when you want to report a problem or find information you need. I especially like the feature that sends notifications to my phone to remind me when it’s trash or recycling night.”

BaltCoGo is designed to be a robust mobile application that offers self-service functionality for constituents to get accurate information on County services and report their concerns. People can use the app to report issues like potholes, missed trash or recycling pick-ups, abandoned vehicles, building and development issues, neighborhood concerns like sidewalk problems or tall grass and weeds, pet and animal issues like stray dogs, concerns with rental properties and much more. People who submit a request or complaint will receive email responses and can also monitor the status of their requests via BaltCoGo.

Examples of online services that can be accessed through the app include:

  • apply for housing assistance vouchers, rental housing licenses, animal licenses and residential parking permits;
  • pay property taxes; parking, red light and speed camera violations; and fees for pet spay and neuter services;
  • access County maps that show zoning, historic districts, voting locations, bicycle facilities, road closures, GIS data, and more.

“This mobile app is a great enhancement for residents to be able to connect easily with our County agencies to report a problem right in the moment and to get the information that they need. This is what is needed in today’s times,” said County Council Chair Julian E. Jones, Jr.

The application is integrated with existing County agencies’ systems and databases, enabling County employees to efficiently review and address constituent concerns and avoid duplicating efforts.

Read the full press release for more information.

Call If You Can, Text If You Must

Governor Larry Hogan today announced the Board of Public Works’ approval of a new Text to 9-1-1 technology for Maryland, helping to update 1960s-era emergency systems with life-saving technology. This new Internet-based infrastructure allows citizens to send a Short Message Service (SMS) text message to 9-1-1. The Federal Communications Commission estimates that more than 70 percent of all 9-1-1 calls now come from cellular users.

Text to 9-1-1 supports 160 characters per message, but no multimedia messaging, such as photos or video. The total cost of the 2-year contract is approximately $2.2 million.

Text to 9-1-1 is a component of Next Generation 9-1-1 (NG911), an initiative aimed at updating the 9-1-1 service infrastructure to improve public emergency communications services in a wireless mobile society. NG911 will improve and enhance the handling of 9-1-1 calls from cell phone users with technology that will increase response times, location accuracy, and allow text, photo, and video data to be shared by callers to First Responders on their way to the emergency.

Advancing NG911 is a priority for county governments. SB 285/HB 634, a 2018 MACo Legislative Initiative, establishes the Commission to Advance Next-Generation 9-1-1 Across Maryland. The Commission will examine the strategic aspects of Next Generation 9-1-1 implementation in coordination with the Emergency Numbers Systems Board’s (ENSB) existing efforts, particularly ensuring that those areas outside of the statutory responsibilities of the ENSB are addressed. The Commission will study and make recommendations for the implementation, technology, funding, governance, and ongoing statewide development of Next Generation 9-1-1 to the Governor and Maryland General Assembly.

Stay tuned to Conduit Street for more information.

Useful Links

Previous Conduit Street Coverage: Senate Passes MACo 9-1-1 Initiative

Previous Conduit Street Coverage: Washington Post Op-Ed: Bring 911 Into the 21st Century

MACo Testimony on Senate Bill 285

Conduit Street Podcast: 9-1-1 Takes Center Stage, Huge Drop of Bills Introduced, Sick Leave Law Looms, and Senate Changes Afoot

Senator Kagan Receives Prestigious National Public Safety Award

NG911 Institute Honors Senator Kagan for dedication and leadership in advancing the 9-1-1 system

Maryland Senator Cheryl Kagan and Maryland Congressman C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger

Maryland State Senator Cheryl Kagan last week received the Government Leader Award from the Next Generation 9-1-1 Institute. This award recognizes an elected or appointed Federal, State, or Local Government Leader that has displayed significant dedication and leadership in advancing the 9-1-1 system.

Senator Kagan is the lead Senate sponsor of Senate Bill 285/HB 634 a MACo Legislative Initiative to establish a Commission to Advance Next-Generation 9-1-1 Across Maryland. The Commission will examine the strategic aspects of Next Generation 9-1-1 implementation in coordination with the Emergency Numbers Systems Board’s (ENSB) existing efforts, particularly ensuring that those areas outside of the statutory responsibilities of the ENSB are addressed. The Commission will study and make recommendations for the implementation, technology, funding, governance, and ongoing statewide development of Next Generation 9-1-1 to the Governor and Maryland General Assembly.

Tony Rose, Chief, Fire/EMS Communications, Charles County, Senator Kagan, and Bill Ferretti, Director, 9-1-1 ECC, Montgomery County

Each February, the NG911 Institute hosts the Annual Honor Awards Reception where heroes and leaders in the 9-1-1 field are recognized and celebrated. Members of the Congressional NG9-1-1 Caucus and other Members of Congress and their staff, appointed federal officials and agency staff, members of the public safety community, public safety industry leaders, and members of the general public, are invited to attend.

Senator Kagan and Patrick Halley, CEO, NG911 Institute

The NG911 Institute is a not-for-profit organization, which supports the efforts of the Congressional NextGen 911 Caucus. The mission of the NG911 Institute is to assist the Congressional NextGen 911 Caucus by serving as a broad educational resource on issues important to the effective operation and advancement of NG911 services and systems. The overarching objective of the Institute is to advance the rapid implementation of NG911 in order to promote more effective emergency response, improve public safety, and advance national security interests. To this end, the Institute seeks to educate Congressional Members and staff on issues that may impact timely and effective NG911 implementation.

Useful Links

Previous Conduit Street Coverage: Senate Passes MACo 9-1-1 Initiative

Previous Conduit Street Coverage: Washington Post Op-Ed: Bring 911 Into the 21st Century

MACo Testimony on Senate Bill 285

Conduit Street Podcast: 9-1-1 Takes Center Stage, Huge Drop of Bills Introduced, Sick Leave Law Looms, and Senate Changes Afoot

Senate Passes MACo 9-1-1 Initiative

The Maryland Senate took the first step towards advancing Next Generation 9-1-1 in Maryland. Senate Bill 285, sponsored by Senator Cheryl Kagan, passed the Senate unanimously and has crossed over to the House. Its cross-file, House Bill 634, sponsored by Delegate Michael Jackson, will be heard on February 21 in the House Government Operations Committee.

Maryland citizens 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. Maryland must accelerate its move toward Next Generation 9-1-1, deliver these essential services equitably across the state, and assure effective coordination with communications providers.

The bill establishes the Commission to Advance Next Generation 9-1-1 Across Maryland. The Commission will look at the strategic aspects of Next Generation 9-1-1 implementation in coordination with the Emergency Numbers Systems Board’s (ENSB) existing efforts, particularly ensuring that those areas outside of the statutory responsibilities of the ENSB are addressed. The Commission will study and make recommendations for the implementation, technology, funding, governance, and ongoing statewide development of Next Generation 9-1-1 to the Governor and Maryland General Assembly.

Stay tuned to Conduit Street for more information.

Useful Links

Previous Conduit Street Coverage: MACo Initiative: Next Gen 9-1-1 Commission Would Guide MD Forward

Previous Conduit Street Coverage: Washington Post Op-Ed: Bring 9-1-1 Into the 21st Century

Conduit Street Podcast: 9-1-1 Takes Center Stage, Huge Drop of Bills Introduced, Sick Leave Law Looms, and Senate Changes Afoot

MACo testimony on Senate Bill 285

Washington Post Op-Ed: Bring 911 Into the 21st Century

An opinion piece in The Washington Post calls for the Trump Administration’s infrastructure plan to include modernizing the nation’s 9-1-1 system. Specifically, the Op-Ed stresses the importance of moving to Next Generation 9-1-1, technology that will increase response times, location accuracy, and allow text, photo, and video data to be shared by callers to First Responders on their way to the emergency.

According to The Washington Post:

Even as an estimated 240 million 911 calls continue to be placed annually, the systems that service them have grown obsolete, unable to handle photos, video, downloads, precise geo-locating and even, in most places, simple text messages. That’s a threat not just to public safety but also to national security.

Worryingly, no one seems quite sure how to pay for a modernization to what’s known as Next Generation 911 (“NG911” in industry parlance), whose cost could exceed $20 billion. This week, as hundreds of public-safety and industry officials gather in the District for their annual 911 conference, many will have one main question on their minds: Why not prioritize an upgrade as part of the Trump administration’s national infrastructure project?

In Maryland, state Sen. Cheryl Kagan, a Montgomery County Democrat alarmed at the deaths of constituents in her district involving 911 breakdowns since 2006, has introduced legislation to help localities start the transition to NG911.

Advancing Maryland Next-Generation 9-1-1 Systems is one of MACo’s 2018 Legislative Initiatives. Maryland citizens 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. Maryland must accelerate its move toward Next Generation 9-1-1, deliver these essential services equitably across the state, and assure effective coordination with communications providers. MACo urges a concerted statewide effort to guide this critical transition, harnessing the expertise and needs of front-line county managers.

Senate Bill 285/House Bill 634 – “Commission to Advance Next Generation 9-1-1 Across Maryland – Establishment” creates a Commission to examine at the strategic aspects of Next Generation 9-1-1 implementation in coordination with the Emergency Numbers Systems Board’s (ENSB) existing efforts, particularly ensuring that those areas outside of the statutory responsibilities of the ENSB are addressed. The Commission will study and make recommendations for the implementation, technology, funding, governance, and ongoing statewide development of Next Generation 9-1-1 to the Governor and Maryland General Assembly.

MACo is in strong support of SB 285 and HB 634, you can read the MACo testimony here.

Useful Links

The Washington Post Op-Ed: Here’s an idea for infrastructure week: Bring 911 into the 21st century

MACo Initiative: Next Gen 9-1-1 Commission Would Guide MD Forward

Conduit Street Podcast: 9-1-1 Takes Center Stage, Huge Drop of Bills Introduced, Sick Leave Law Looms, and Senate Changes Afoot