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DOT and DOC Grants Will Give 911 A Much-Needed Boost

Last week, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) and the U.S. Department of Commerce (DOC) took the final, much-anticipated step in awarding funding dollars that have been in the works since the Next Generation 911 Advancement Act was announced seven years ago. Originally passed as part of the Middle-Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012, the new $109 million grant program is intended to drive the 911 community’s transition to Next Generation 911 (NG911.)

The Five Biggest Takeaways from This Year’s NENA Conference

If you didn’t travel to Orlando last week for the annual National Emergency Number Association (NENA) conference, it can be summed up with one word: progress. The key themes were industry advancement and innovation with several game-changing technologies and initiatives being launched.

This Weekend's GPS Rollover Event Requires Public Safety Communication's Attention

Global Positioning System (GPS)-based time sources are used throughout the public safety sector to synchronize a wide array of systems and equipment, including radio consoles, voice recorders, and computer-aided dispatch, fire alarm and video surveillance systems. Such time sources, known as master clocks, also ensure that every system used by a public safety agency generates an accurate, consistent timestamp for every emergency event that requires a law enforcement, fire/rescue and/or emergency medical services (EMS) response.

An event that will occur in two days—Saturday, April 6—threatens to throw things out of sync, at least to some degree. GPS marks time by transmitting signals that indicate the current week and the number of seconds into that week. That data is then converted by the various systems and equipment into the more recognizable format of year, month, day and time of day.

Because the field that represents the current week is a 10-bit binary number, a total of 1,024 weeks can transpire—roughly 19.7 years—before GPS resets the week value to zero. In the world of GPS, this time period is known as an epoch. The first epoch began on January 6, 1980 and rolled over on August 21, 1999; the second epoch will roll over in two days.

An Important Milestone: 10 Years of Mission Critical Partners

This month is very special for Mission Critical Partners: it’s the month we celebrate 10 years of being in business.

A decade ago, our co-founders—Kevin Murray, Brian Bark, and Len Kowalski—started the firm in makeshift offices above their garages and in their basements. They were joined shortly thereafter by David F. Jones and Dave Boyce. Together, the team of five worked countless hours and weekends to build a company consisting of innovators, engineers, subject-matter experts, former emergency responders and 911 center managers, and project managers, who share a common passion—improving life-safety outcomes. Since their humble beginning in 2009, the founders had a vision of growing the firm to 75 employees, the size they believed would give it influence in shaping the future of public safety communications.

10 Years of MCP: An Interview with Brian Bark, Co-Founder

"MCP’s success ‘is all about good people doing good work every day"

A previous post offered the memories and perspectives of MCP chief executive officer and co-founder Kevin Murray in marking the firm’s 10th anniversary, which is being celebrated in 2019. In this post, MCP Insights visits with another co-founder, Brian Bark, who today is the firm’s senior vice president/national sales director.

Insights: What were the biggest challenges faced in the beginning and how were they overcome?

Brian: The biggest challenge was setting up the company—we were starting flat-footed. We always knew what we wanted to be, and collectively the vision always was consistent. But we had to set up the banking and insurance, and get the accounting and legal support, all the things it takes to start a company. We knew that we didn’t want to be a three-person company, and growing MCP to the point where it was influential in the industry also was extremely challenging. We had many client contacts when we opened for business, but they all were under contract.

10 Years of MCP: An Interview with Kevin Murray, CEO and Co-Founder

"There is nothing better than watching staff deliver great results to clients."

Mission Critical Partners (MCP) is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year and to mark the milestone, MCP Insights visited with the three founders to capture their memories and perspectives. This installment features Kevin Murray, the firm’s chief executive officer.

Insights: What were the biggest challenges faced in the beginning and how were they overcome?

Kevin: The biggest challenge was starting from scratch. It was a tremendous amount of time and work. We worked every day, from sunup to sundown, for a year. You have to choose a name and logo, you have to set up bank accounts and get business insurance, you’re writing proposals and making sales calls. On the weekends you’re putting desk furniture together. We were scrounging and scraping with everything we did. Luckily, we had each other—the ultimate triangle team—and some pretty understanding spouses.

A Call to Action: 911 Data Sharing

In a previous article on MCP Insights, we discussed in length how data will be king in public safety’s incredibly exciting new era. The torrent of rich data that is beginning to enter into 911 centers promises to have a profound impact on emergency response—but only if its harnessed effectively.

For the 911 community to realize the full value of data, several critical elements must be in place. One of those is a data management and sharing environment that provides useful and sustainable standards, requirements, and guidance. Not only must this environment support day-to-day 911 service delivery today, it must be flexible enough to support the industry’s future, next-generation data needs as well.

With today’s legacy 911 environment—which consists of localized, siloed systems—overcoming this significant hurdle will be difficult, but one that MCP believes not only is attainable, but also imperative.

A Look Back at 2018

2018 was an exciting year in public safety and for Mission Critical Partners (MCP). We celebrated the 50th anniversary of the first 911 call and learned more about how social media data can impact PSAP operations and emergency response now and into the future. Meanwhile, the conversation around location accuracy continued to grow louder and technology and system upgrades, cybersecurity and staffing struggles remained top-of-mind for those in agency and PSAP leadership roles.

Topics: Industry News

MCP + Athena: The Leading Provider of IT Services for Public Safety

Earlier this week, we announced that Mission Critical Partners (MCP) has acquired Athena Advanced Networks, enhancing our IT service offering and reinforcing our position as the industry leader in providing independent, holistic services for public safety infrastructure and operations.

The public safety industry is going through a time of unprecedented change. Our future will involve an increasing number of shared and integrated systems and networks. With that evolution comes greater complexity, more vendors, and most importantly, higher risk that must be managed in order to achieve and maintain reliable and efficient networks and operations.

Over the past several years, clients have expressed their need for more support to manage this complexity. MCP joining forces with Athena will significantly expand our ability to help our clients have real-time visibility and control over their public safety systems.

These are the benefits we expect our clients to realize from this partnership:

Four Takeaways from the Next Generation 911 Cost Study Report Delivered to Congress this Week

As part of the Middle-Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012 (P.L. 112-96), Congress directed the 911 Implementation and Coordination Office, which is housed within the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration at the U.S. Department of Transportation and is a joint program with the National Telecommunication and Information Administration in the Department of Commerce,  to investigate the cost of implementing Next Generation 911 (NG911) service across the country.

The report was intended to “serve as a resource as [Congress] considers creating a coordinated, long-term funding mechanism for the deployment and operation, accessibility, application development, equipment procurement and training of personnel for Next Generation 911 services.”

Years later—after many hours spent interviewing stakeholders, collecting and analyzing data, and evaluating models—the National 911 Program this week delivered the Next Generation 911 Cost Study to Congress.

Mission Critical Partners applauds the progress made by the National 911 Program, not only by delivering this report, but also by creating a universal definition and framework for understanding the various stages of development and implementation of NG911 service nationwide. This effort marks a significant milestone in the Government’s role of advancing the nation’s 911 system and acting as an advocate for efficient and effective emergency response.

We caught up with several of our NG911 experts to discuss the four biggest takeaways from the Cost Study.

How to Lessen the Impact of Public Safety Vendor Consolidations

A baseball adage says that when a pitcher throws you a curveball, you hit it to the opposite field. But what do you do when the pitcher hurls a fastball right at your head?

The public safety version of this scenario occurs whenever system or technology vendors consolidate, either through merger or acquisition, an action that often places their customers in a very precarious position. Agencies immediately wonder whether their already deployed systems will be supported in the same manner as before the consolidation.

Often, they are not, in part because some number of administrative, engineering and service personnel typically leave a company after a consolidation.

Worse, systems and equipment often are eliminated in the aftermath of a consolidation, usually because of product redundancies. Preparing for system and equipment end of life always is challenging, but it becomes terrifying when it occurs suddenly and with no warning. Public safety agencies are in the business of saving lives and that becomes significantly more difficult when communications systems are rendered inoperable because replacement components or maintenance services cannot be procured—because they no longer exist.  

Cautious Optimism Surrounds CTIA Announcement Regarding Improving 911 Location Accuracy

Last week was a great week for public safety—at least we think it was. Let me explain.

CTIA, the trade association that represents wireless communications carriers, announced that the four largest nationwide wireless carriers in the United States—AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon—will integrate device-based hybrid (DBH) location solutions into their networks. DBH technology has evolved rapidly, and trials have shown that they deliver location information much faster and much more accurately than the Wireless Phase II data delivered by the location technologies currently employed by the carriers.

To date in the United States, device-based hybrid location technology comes in two flavors: Hybridized Emergency Location (HELO) developed for Apple’s iPhone operating system and Emergency Location Service (ELS) developed for Google’s Android OS. Both technologies aggregate numerous data sources—e.g., the Global Positioning System (GPS), Bluetooth beacons, Wi-Fi hotspots, data from mapping/navigation applications, and activity-based apps—to deliver more-accurate location data, particularly indoors, for 911 calls made from smartphones.