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911 & FirstNet

Two significant initiatives are currently changing and enhancing the emergency communication ecosystem.

First, Next Generation 911 (NG911), which has been underway for nearly a decade, transitions 911 to digital, Internet Protocol (IP)-based systems, rather than analog, copper landline-based systems. The second, seeks to create a National Public Safety Broadband Network (NPSBN) for first responder use in the field, and is in the initial planning stages under the guidance of the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet), an independent authority within the National Telecommunication and Information Administration. The coordination of these efforts is essential in creating a seamless emergency communication system that transmits critical information from the public – to 911 – and on to emergency responders.

911 is usually the first call made by the public to report an emergency or need for help. The ability of 911 to provide the most accurate and up-to-date information to police, fire and medical services responders is important in ensuring the most appropriate and efficient response to the emergency.

As the implementation of NG911 continues in locales nationwide, 911 telecommunicators will have the potential to provide more detailed information about the emergency to first responders through the use of public-provided pictures, video, automatic automobile crash notification and other data sources. The ability to deliver this information to first responders in the field will be greatly enhanced when a broadband network for public safety is available.

As FirstNet collaborates with States to identify needs and develop the NPSBN, the National 911 Program will continue to facilitate coordination between the 911 community and FirstNet. The Program will also support outreach and education efforts to address how these two systems can work together in the future.

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