911 Center Report Highlights Cyber, NG911, Staff Issues
This article originally appeared in Government Technology and can be read in its entirety here.The report from the firm Mission Critical Partners lays out a plethora of issues facing 911 call centers, including personnel issues, cyber attacks and the difficult transition from legacy technology to NG 911.
Public Safety Answering Points (PSAP), or 911 centers, face a multitude of challenges and threats in the face of increasing pressure to improve efficiency, including staffing challenges, deploying next-generation 911 systems, and the threat of cyber attacks by bad actors.
Those challenges and a plethora of others are discussed in the 2022 Model for Advancing Public Safety (MAPS) Analysis and Insights report by the Mission Critical Partners firm.
It is imperative that 911 centers address the cybersecurity issue because not doing so can end up costing millions of dollars to recover. For example, the ransomware attack on Atlanta in 2018 that destroyed years worth of data and shut down multiple services ended up costing the city $2.7 million in recovery services.
From a physical security standpoint, 911 centers have it down. They understand security when it comes to guns, guards and gates. But when deploying NG 911 systems and introducing IP networks, they are creating cybersecurity vulnerabilities.
“On the cyber side, that’s really where we’re talking about the people, the planning, the policy and the procedure,” said Darrin Reilly, president and CEO of Mission Critical Partners. “As they move to NG 911, you’re introducing an Internet protocol-based mesh network to handle multimedia data that actually provides an entry for bad actors.”
Centers should have an annual assessment from an outside entity to ensure they are protected, according to Reilly. He said call centers should address the cyber issue the way cities, counties, states and other entities address finances and have “audits” annually.
“No, I don’t think we’re moving nearly as fast as the industry should be moving on this, hands down,” Reilly said. “We’re behind and the alarms have to be sounding to have these agencies put together assessments.”