December 6, 2021
By: Kevin Kinnally
After four years of work to upgrade Maryland’s 9-1-1 system, the Commission to Advance Next Generation 9-1-1 (NG911) Across Maryland released its fourth and final annual report. The report includes 24 recommendations to continue the ambitious and essential move toward NG911, deliver these services equitably across the state, and bolster the statutory framework that governs the state’s 9-1-1 systems.
“Maryland has made impressive strides towards modernizing our 9-1-1 systems that have put us at the forefront nationally,” Commission Chair Senator Cheryl Kagan said. “It has been the honor of a lifetime to work side-by-side with our remarkably talented public safety community.”
Highlights of this year’s report include:
- Streamlining access to mental health services for 9-1-1 Specialists
- Authorizing counties to set the local portion of the 9-1-1 fee
- Requiring timely notification of 9-1-1 outages
- Increasing penalties for “Swatting” and cyberattacks on 9-1-1 Centers
- Mandating Implicit Bias Training for 9-1-1 Specialists
- Continuing Comptroller audit reporting
- Providing Workers’ Compensation for 9-1-1 Specialists with PTSD
- Improving 9-1-1 Board operations
- Educating the public about Kari’s Law
- Collecting 9-1-1 data statewide
- Reclassifying 9-1-1 Specialists as First Responders
- Enforcing cybersecurity standards at all 9-1-1 Centers
- Ensuring first responders can locate emergencies in multi-story buildings (Z-axis)
- Facilitating remote call-taking
Maryland residents demand and expect 9-1-1 emergency services to be reliable and efficient. Next-generation technology is required to keep up with this increasingly complex public safety function – improving wireless caller location, accommodating incoming text/video, and managing crisis-driven call overflows.
As previously reported on Conduit Street, the Commission to Advance NG911 across Maryland, a 2018 MACo Legislative Initiative, was established to update state laws and the 9-1-1 financing system to provide the flexibility and resources needed for the deployment of a statewide NG911 system. In 2019, the General Assembly passed landmark legislation to update state laws and the 9-1-1 financing system to provide the flexibility and resources needed to deploy a statewide NG911 system.
The Commission includes 9-1-1 directors, technology and telecommunications industry representatives, cybersecurity professionals, a bipartisan group of legislators, and other stakeholders to assure a smooth and equitable transition to NG911.
This year, the General Assembly passed omnibus legislation to add necessary expertise to the Maryland 9-1-1 Board by adding additional representation, including a county finance professional, county 9-1-1 specialists, an expert from the cybersecurity industry, and a member to represent persons with disabilities. The bill also requires telecommunications providers to promptly notify 9-1-1 centers in the event of an outage necessary to implement alternative communications methods and provide proper public notice.
MACo also successfully supported legislation to designate the Maryland Department of Emergency Management (formerly the Maryland Emergency Management Agency) as a Cabinet-level entity and transfer the 9-1-1 Board from the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services to the Maryland Department of Emergency Management (MDEM), as a fully autonomous agency.
Stay tuned to Conduit Street for more information.