MAPS Assessments Show That, In Some Places, NG911 Is Progressing Nicely
Posted on May 26, 2022 by Nicki Tidey
Since MCP’s inception more than a dozen years ago, our subject-matter experts (SMEs) have conducted hundreds of assessments pertaining to our clients’ facilities, technologies, operations, staffing, information technology practices, cybersecurity postures, and governance. Like our clients, we constantly strive to up our game. That’s why we launched the Model for Advancing Public Safety® (MAPS®) three years ago.
The MAPS® methodology measures key elements of a public safety agency’s environment against a range of success factors, which are based on MCP’s expertise, formalized accreditation programs, and industry standards and best practices. The MAPS methodology determines whether each element is foundational, transitional, or end state. Thus far, MCP has used the methodology to conduct about 400 assessments across its entire roster of clients.
MAPS places a strong emphasis on identifying strengths that can be leveraged and weaknesses that need resolution. Each assessment provides a report card that enables clients to learn where they stand concerning each factor that was assessed, as well as holistically. A vital aspect of each assessment is the creation of a diagram that summarizes the findings in a manner that makes them easily digestible. In a way, this diagram provides them with a visual executive summary and roadmap.
Numerous assessments have been conducted to assess our clients’ Next Generation 911 (NG911) readiness. The following are the factors that were assessed for each client — within each of these primary factors, numerous subfactors are considered.
Governance — A strong governance structure is critical in the transition from legacy 911 to NG911 because the transition impacts every aspect of 911.
i3 Routing and Functional Elements — Next generation core services (NGCS) are the functional elements responsible for NG911 call-routing capabilities. They enable emergency communications centers (ECCs) to handle emergency calls in an NG911 environment. NGCS must align with the i3 (third iteration) standards published by the National Emergency Number Association (NENA).
ESInet — An emergency services Internet Protocol network, or ESInet, enables the delivery of emergency calls and associated data to NG911-compliant ECCs. When implemented together, an ESInet and NGCS form a NG911 system.
Call-Handling Equipment — Given the cyclic nature of hardware refreshes, it is common for agencies to have a mix of call-handling capabilities in place, ranging from foundational to regional end-state NG911.
Security — Because of the IP nature of NG911 systems, they are much more vulnerable to cyberattacks than legacy 911 systems. It is highly recommended that public safety agencies protect their NG911 systems in part by leveraging the standards and recommendations published by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC)’s Task Force on Optimal Public Safety Point Architecture (TFOPA). Also important is physical security, particularly as it relates to restricting access to critical infrastructure.
Geographic Information Systems — In the NG911 environment, emergency callers will be located based on geospatial data generated by GIS. It is imperative then that an agency determines whether its GIS data complies with NENA’s standards as part of the migration to NG911 service.
Training — The duties of a telecommunicator are extremely difficult, and opportunities for mistakes within the profession abound when proper training is absent. This is especially true in the NG911 environment.
Quality Assurance/Quality Improvement — A well-developed and well-defined QA/QI program assures consistency of operations and identifies problems and corrective actions to resolve the issues. Such a program ideally will leverage standards published by NENA and the Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials (APCO), as well as established law enforcement, fire/rescue, and emergency medical protocols.
Operations — Many would say that implementing NG911 technology is the easy part. The more challenging part is operationalizing the processes, methods, and training, and managing the additional data and other support structures, such as continuity of operations (COOP) planning and incident management.
Recently, I aggregated data from all of the NG911 assessments that we’ve done using the MAPS® methodology for an analysis and insights report that we will be publishing later this year. The good news is that all of the agencies we assessed are collectively in the transitional phase of the NG911 migration — which is exactly where we expected them to be. There’s still a lot of work to do, but much progress has been made.
In closing, I want to stress to the reader that when MCP performs a MAPS® assessment, we start by identifying the unique factors and subfactors that combine to create the environment that is being assessed. We then develop a customized question set and conduct a series of through and confidential stakeholder interviews. Once we have collected all of the data we need, we analyze it and assign a score to each factor. Again, these scores indicate to our clients whether the factor is foundational, transitional, or end state.
We can do this for any aspect of your operation and would love to have an opportunity to talk to you about that — please reach out.
Nicki Tidey is an MCP communications consultant who oversees the MAPS program. Email her at NicolaTidey@MissionCriticalPartners.com.