NENA: States should take bigger E911 role

National Emergency Number Association

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States should bear an increasing level of responsibility for upgrading the 911 emergency response systems across the country, according to studies conducted by the National Emergency Number Association.

Last week NENA unveiled the results of several studies conducted by the group's Strategic Wireless Action Team. Those studies focused on the steps needed to hasten 911 upgrades, particularly the wireless enhanced 911 that allows dispatchers to automatically locate wireless callers.

According to one of the studies performed by the Monitor Group for NENA, only half of the call centers, also known as public safety answering points, will have the ability to locate wireless callers with any level of precision by the end of 2005. Although that group could grow to 80 percent by 2010, many callers will remain outside of the coverage range. The federal deadline for putting these technologies in place was 2001.

To move forward on the enhancements, states will have to take on a much larger role, according to another study. One of the most important areas in which states must step forward is in creating effective coordination between the levels of government involved in deploying the services, particularly for the states that are farthest behind.

Congress has taken steps to assist call centers. In November, the House approved a bill to provide grants for infrastructure and equipment upgrades and for training. Now the Senate is preparing to vote on a companion bill.

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