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Friday, March 5th, 2021

GAO reviews Next Generation 911 implementation nationwide ahead of roadmap development

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The Government Accountability Office (GAO) recently reviewed the implementation of Next Generation 911 (NG911), which provides improved capabilities over the legacy 911 system.

The GAO report examines state and local progress, challenges in implementing NG911 and federal actions to address challenges and planned next steps.

State and local entities are responsible for deploying NG911, but federal agencies also support implementation, led by NHTSA’s National 911 Program.

In 2018, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA’s) National 911 Program plans to create an interagency initiative to create a National NG911 Roadmap, aimed at identifying next steps for the federal government in supporting the creation of a national, interconnected NG911 system.

As part of its roadmap initiative, the National 911 Program is taking steps to create a list of national-level tasks the program but does not have a plan to identify roles or responsibilities for federal entities to carry out these tasks or how the program plans to achieve the roadmap’s objectives.

The GAO report recommends that the Administrator of NHTSA develop specific program goals and performance measures for NG911 implementation and, in collaboration with the appropriate federal agencies, determine roles and responsibilities of federal agencies participating in the National NG911 Roadmap initiative

GAO also recommended that the Administrator of NHTSA develop an implementation plan to support the completion of the National NG911 Roadmap’s national-level tasks.

As part of its reviews, GAO spoke with state and local 911 officials in nine states. The agency found that none of the nine states were accepting images, audio files or video. The 911 officials identified several challenges to implementing NG911 related to funding, evolving technology and operations and governance.

The National 911 Program’s most recent national survey on Next Generation 911 (NG911) implementation found that about half of states were transitioning to NG911 in 2015, but that state and local progress varied. 10 states reported that all 911 authorities in their state processed calls using NG911 systems. 18 states reported having no state or local NG911 transition plans in place, which indicates that these states were in early planning stages or had not yet begun.