Capital Building

About the Program

Congress formed the National 911 Office because it recognized the critical importance of the 911 system in protecting public safety and security; now it is known as the National 911 Program. The Program’s mission is to provide Federal leadership and coordination in supporting and promoting optimal 911 services.

The current 911 system was designed to provide a universal, easy-to-remember number for people to reach police, fire or emergency medical assistance from any phone in any location, without having to look up specific phone numbers. The technology, regulations and funding that make the system possible are largely based on the technology that existed at the time 911 was first implemented during the late 1960s—i.e., wired phones in residences and businesses.

Today, people communicate with each other in ways that the designers of the original 911 system could not have envisioned: wireless phones, text messages, smartphones, video chat, Internet Protocol (IP)-enabled devices and methods, with more very likely on the way. The National 911 Program, in coordinating the efforts of states, technology providers, public safety officials, 911 professionals and other groups, seeks to ensure a smooth, reliable and cost-effective transition to a 911 system that takes advantage of new communications technologies to enhance public safety nationwide.

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