GIS Assessment Project
To understand how geographic information systems (GIS) are functioning today in the 911 community, a project was initiated to determine how to implement a nationwide GIS data-sharing system. These findings will be necessary in establishing the Next Generation 911 (NG911) system that is fully interconnected and interoperable across the country.
Successful implementation of NG911 relies heavily on highly accurate, robust GIS data that is constantly maintained to NG911 standards and freely shared locally, regionally and nationally; currently, there is not a universal GIS-sharing system in place for 911 centers in the U.S. While some states have made the transition to NG911, many have not.
Once every 911 center has the capability to share local GIS data, a universal NG911 system can be implemented, and the GIS data will help inform evidence-based practices in telecommunication. Two 2019 reports from the National 911 Program, housed within the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Office of EMS—the National NG911 Roadmap and Strategic Plan for 911 Data and Information Sharing—highlighted the need to develop uniform standards and best practices for data-sharing.
This GIS effort is undertaking three objectives:
Identify current GIS status: Many technical issues exist in communities that have implemented NG911. Problems with developing, sharing and storing GIS data among 911 centers act as barriers to use NG911 efficiently and effectively. These barriers will be addressed to ease 911 centers’ transitions to NG911.
Assessment of necessary partner agencies, entities and issues: Matters of financial, administrative, operational and governance will be evaluated to identify the budget, resources and organizations required to address challenges in current systems.
Metrics and strategies: The initiative will develop strategies to address obstacles identified through the assessment phase. Success will be measured by metrics developed during the execution of the first two objectives.
What's Happening Now
A group of GIS stakeholders met in early February 2022 to discuss current challenges to sharing GIS data to meet the needs of NG911. These stakeholders represented subject matter experts from across the country: GIS solution providers, GIS industry associations and professionals from emergency communication centers (ECCs), also known as public safety answering points (PSAPs).
In July 2022, the National 911 Program released the first of the project’s planned final reports on the Current Status of Geographic Information Systems Technologies Supporting 911. The Program sponsored several nationwide information-gathering sessions to ascertain the challenges encountered by GIS data stewards at all levels of government and across a wide array of GIS stakeholders, including tribal communities and a variety of jurisdiction types (state, regional and local), size and geographic location.
Among the report’s findings:
Three key gaps exist to creating an interoperable, nationwide GIS system that enables the sharing of 911 GIS data: building and maintaining trained GIS staff; acquiring and maintaining Next Generation (NG) 911 GIS data; and funding.
Jurisdictions adapting their existing GIS programs to support NG911 often lack a champion to support funding and administrative needs.
Other hindrances include a GIS vendor community that largely does not understand nor adhere to national standards identified for NG911; addresses that must be prepared for an NG911 environment; and a lack of GIS data governance.
These reports will be released in the coming months:
Current Status of Required Entities for 911 GIS
Resources, Budget and Partnerships
Scientific Research Requirements and Metrics
The NHTSA 911 Program GIS Strategic Plan
Individuals wishing to provide input for or comments on the GIS Technology or Required Entities reports should reach out to the appropriate group from this list. Although the information-gathering participant list has been finalized for this effort, we encourage the stakeholder community to review the reports and provide feedback to the National 911 Program.