Commission to Advance NG911 Across Maryland
Prepared November 2018
November 30, 2018
The most important phone number children learn is 9-1-1. In case of emergency, dial those three digits, and help will come. In Maryland, this happened over 5,000,000 times last year. Our police officers, firefighters, and paramedics are dispatched by well-trained call-takers. Together, lives and property are saved every day. Sometimes, however, the system doesn’t work. Maryland’s current technology is outdated. In times of catastrophic emergency, it gets overloaded. The Geographic Information System (GIS) can’t reliably locate crises quickly and accurately. And, we can currently only communicate by actually dialing the numbers and talking to a 9-1-1 Specialist.
Maryland is working to transition to “Next Generation 9-1-1” or “NG911.” This new technology will allow for phone, text, photos, and videos to be sent to our 24 centers. It will enable seamless rollover to other jurisdictions with all of the data intact. Our telecommunicators (often called the “First First Responders”) will face even greater stress and need additional levels of training; this increases the challenge we face already with recruiting, training, and retention. We need to guard against cybersecurity hacks, which are happening with alarming frequency. To accomplish all of this, Maryland must adjust its funding structure. Currently, an average of just 39% of costs are covered by the $1 fee we have paid for the past 15 years.
This Commission’s members— comprised of experts from 9-1-1, government, industry, and technology— have invested thousands of hours in the crafting of this report. Four subcommittees convened at least weekly for the past three months. Three day-long meetings in Annapolis allowed us to compare notes and seek consensus. Ultimately, we are presenting 23 recommendations for consideration by the Governor and General Assembly. Each one of them won unanimous support from Commissioners. Many will be included in urgently-needed, bipartisan legislation that will be introduced in January of 2019.
I am deeply grateful to the Commissioners and observers; Vice Chair, Steve Souder, with his 60 years of 9-1-1 expertise; subcommittee Chairs Bill Ferretti, Charlynn Flaherty, and Richard Brooks; Mission Critical Partners consultants; my legislative staff; and the devoted public servants who respond to 9-1-1 calls every day.
My personal dedication to this issue stemmed from the tragic death of a Rockville constituent and inspirational activist, Carl Henn, who was struck by lightning during a severe thunderstorm. His widow Carol wrote in an open letter that this Commission is a fitting tribute to him, as the unanimously approved recommendations will help save lives in the future.
Please contact me or anyone on the Commission if you have questions or need more information. We are united in our commitment to saving lives as we shift to NG911 in a thoughtful and effective way.
Cheryl C. Kagan
Senator, District 17 (Rockville & Gaithersburg)
NG911 Commission Chair