MCP Insights

The Public Safety Communications Challenges We’re Tackling in 2020

Posted on March 4, 2020 by Sherri Griffith Powell

Earlier this year, public safety communications professionals from across the country came together in Austin, TX, to discuss and address the most pressing issues facing the industry at NENA’s Standards & Best Practices Conference. We discussed in a previous blog post why events like this one are critical to our industry’s success in continuing to improve emergency response outcomes. Which challenges are we tackling this year and what’s next for 911?

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Conferences like NENA’s SBP Are Key to Advancing Emergency Response

Posted on January 20, 2020 by Sherri Griffith Powell

In the past, we’ve talked a lot about the critical role that standards play in the advancement of next generation 911 (NG911). They help to ensure interoperability between disparate solutions providers by reducing proprietary development and promoting open-source approaches to design. But as technology continues to change, standards and best practices development becomes even more important in addressing the issues that agencies continue to face when trying to fully implement NG911. That’s where conferences like the National Emergency Number Association (NENA)’s Standards & Best Practices come in.

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A Case for 911’s Most Impactful Milestone Thus Far

Posted on February 23, 2018 by Nancy Pollock

Anniversaries and milestones go hand in hand. Consider the arc of a typical human life. A person is born. That momentous event is followed by others: the first day of school, graduations, marriage, children, and then grandchildren and, if they’re fortunate, retirement, with a few personal and professional achievements realized along the journey. The longer the life, the more the milestones pile up.

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In-Building Public Safety Radio Coverage: Tips for Overcoming Limitations and Issues

Posted on November 9, 2017 by William "Rudy" Rudoff, PMP, ENP

When it comes to emergency response, having reliable public safety radio coverage is imperative to keeping first responders safe and able to communicate when responding to incidents inside of buildings. As natural disasters intensify and terrorists become bolder, building codes and standards become stricter. While thicker walls and reinforced windows are great for the safety of a building’s inhabitants, they also make it more difficult for radio signals to penetrate.

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Telecommunicator-Training Guidelines: Proof that Collaboration Means Progress

Posted on March 23, 2017 by Nancy Pollock

Great things happen when an industry comes together as one.

Case in point: After Morgan O’Brien unveiled his idea for a nationwide interoperable broadband communications network for first responders in 2006, special interest groups soon developed within public safety concerning how the network should come about. There was so much disagreement and infighting that some feared Congress would get tired of it all, dismiss the idea, and reallocate the radio frequency spectrum needed to make the network a reality, resulting in a critical opportunity being lost forever.

Fortunately, public safety came to its senses and began to speak with a unified voice, largely due to the efforts of a group that called itself the Public Safety Alliance, and the rest is history. Congress enacted the Middle Class Tax Relief and Jobs Creation Act of 2012, which created the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet), and authorized $7 billion in funding for the buildout of the Nationwide Public Safety Broadband Network (NPSBN).

Another example of collaboration – the Telecommunicator-Training Guidelines

Another impressive example of industrywide collaboration culminated last summer when the Recommended Minimum Training Guidelines for Telecommunicators were released.

You can read more about them here.

Representatives from a diverse set of organizations—trade associations, public safety agencies, and 9-1-1 training vendors—looked past their own agendas and interests, and worked for more than three years to deliver the guidelines. Consensus-driven, these guidelines are intended to foster a baseline level of competency that will result in a more-consistent level of service being delivered to citizens and first responders, no matter where they are.

Major progress has already been made

Already the guidelines are being put to good use.

  • In the state of Idaho, a law was passed last week that mandates hiring standards and 40 hours of certification training, approved by the Idaho Peace Officer Standards & Training Academy, upon being hired as an emergency communications officer/emergency services telecommunicator.  It also requires 40 hours of continuing education every two years after that to maintain the certification.
  • In Minnesota, new training requirements adopted by the Metropolitan Emergency Services Board (MESB)—which covers the nine counties that surround the twin cities of Minneapolis and Saint Paul—took effect on January 1, 2017, are based on these guidelines.
  • In Kansas, a revised set of standards were developed by the Kansas 9-1-1 Coordinating Council, spell out the topics that should be included in the first 40 and 80 hours of telecommunicator training, take effect next year.

Each of these efforts is approaching telecommunicator training and certification just a little differently—which was the intention behind the national-level guidelines from the beginning. While they are intended to ensure a baseline level of competency for all 9-1-1 centers nationwide, the group emphasized that 9-1-1 centers can build upon and enhance the guidelines based on local needs and circumstances. What each of the efforts described above have in common is that they used the national guidelines as a benchmark.

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