The cost to deploy next-generation 911 (NG-911) nationwide will total an estimated $9.5 billion to $12.7 billion, depending on which of three implementation scenarios is used, and the 10-year cost estimate that includes operational expenses and the refresh of equipment will total $13.5 billion to $16 billion, according to a long-awaited report released today by the National 911 Program, which is jointly administered by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration.
The 334-page report to Congress was mandated by the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012, which directed the document to be submitted to lawmakers one year after the law was enacted, or by Feb. 12, 2013. But the report, which was prepared by Mission Critical Partners and Booz Allen Hamilton, was delayed, with officials citing difficulty securing funding to complete it.
“Upgrading public safety call centers throughout the country will help the public reach first responders during emergencies, and give responders better tools for critical life-saving missions,” said NTIA Administrator David J. Redl. "While some states are already making significant strides towards NG911, nationwide implementation will take a significant investment. With the delivery of this report to Congress, we look forward to the next steps in our 911 grant program to help jumpstart the nationwide NG911 transition.”
The report examines the nationwide cost of deploying NG-911 as well as deploying and maintaining it over a 10-year period if states and territories deploy their own systems, if they engage in multi-state implementation, and if individual states and territories purchase all core NG-911 services and public safety answering point (PSAP) maintenance from an NG-911 service provider.
The report estimates the cost of individual state and territory deployment at $10.5 billion, multistate deployment at $9.5 billion, and the service option at $12.7 billion. The last estimate includes maintenance and equipment upgrades, which the first two do not.
The report estimates the total 10-year lifecycle cost for individual states and territories at $14.8 billion, multistate implementation at $13.5 billion, and the service option at $16.1 billion.
“It is important to note that while the Report explores geographic cost allocation of NG911 implementation, it does not detail the cost breakdown between localities, States, and federal agencies,” said a cover letter to the report signed by Mr. Redl and NHTSA Deputy Administrator Heidi R. King. “In addition, the Report does not quantify various other elements that may substantively increase or decrease the range, including fees received by 911 agencies during the implementation period, any technological advancements that may provide efficiency in implementation, or changes in Public Safety Answer[ing] Points that may result during implementation.”
Public safety entities have called on Congress to allocate funding to enable PSAPs to deploy NG-911.
In 2016, the National Emergency Number Association, (NENA), the National Association of State 911 Administrators (NASNA), and the Industry Council for Emergency Response Technologies (iCERT) established a coalition to push for nationwide NG-911 deployment by the end of 2020, including by securing funding (TR Daily, Feb. 23, 2016). The Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials-International (APCO) also has called for congressional funding.
FCC Commissioners Jessica Rosenworcel and Mike O’Rielly, who have been active on 911 issues, especially the diversion of fees for other purposes, issued statements on today’s report.
“Today’s report confirms that this country has a tall task ahead of it when it comes to upgrading our 911 systems for the next generation. The way I see it, there is no more essential infrastructure for our day-to-day safety. If — and when — there is any kind of infrastructure legislation in Washington this effort needs to be front and center,” Ms. Rosenworcel said.
“It’s not surprising that upgrading to Next Generation 9-1-1 services will be an expensive undertaking,” said Mr. O’Rielly. “This cost estimate demonstrates just how devastating it is that states and territories like New York, New Jersey, Rhode Island, and Guam have siphoned off 9-1-1 fees collected from consumers for such purposes. Their citizens deserve better and I hope these figures make government officials think twice before stealing public safety money to pad their general funds.”
“This extensive study, which estimates that a nationwide deployment of NG911 would cost between $9.5 and $12.7 billion, provides policymakers at all levels of government and public-safety stakeholders with the detailed financial information needed to achieve a coordinated, nationwide deployment of NG911,” said NENA President Jamison Peevyhouse.
NENA added that it “looks forward to working with all stakeholders to develop a funding model that provides predictable, adequate, and sustainable funding for NG911 from a mix of state and federal sources for both capital and operating expenditures, allowing for strong performance day-to-day and continuous improvement long-term.”
“Now that the cost study has been made public, we look forward to having more focused discussions about establishing a significant federal grant program to modernize 9-1-1 systems across the country,” said Derek Poarch, executive director and chief executive officer of APCO. “9-1-1 is the most critical of critical infrastructure. Our nation’s dedicated public safety communications professionals should have innovative, interoperable, and effective technology for protecting the public and the lives of law enforcement, fire, and emergency medical responders.”
“NHTSA and NTIA’s study assessing NG9-1-1 funding is a significant and highly detailed document still under review by our members,” said Kim Robert Scovill, executive director of iCERT. “We understand the importance of this study to the process of creating legislation to increase NG9-1-1 funding and are therefore pleased that it is now published and available for review. We continue to emphasize the need for additional funding to implement NG9-1-1 and will support legislative efforts to achieve this as soon as possible.” —Paul Kirby, [email protected]
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