Departments of Transportation and Commerce Announces $109 Million in Grants
On August 9, 2019, the U.S. Department of Transportation and U.S. Department of Commerce announced federal 911 grants being made available to 34 states and 2 tribal nations to help PSAPs upgrade 9-1-1 systems to Next Generation 9-1-1, or NG911.
The funding will power basic improvements such as providing digital and IP network capabilities to 911 emergency call centers and will assist implementation of advanced mapping systems that will make it easier to identify a 911 caller’s location. NG911 will help 911 call centers manage call overload, as call-takers will be able to transfer calls, messages and data between public safety answering points (PSAPs) that are interconnected to the IP network. The 911 Grant Program also provides funding for training costs directly related to NG911 implementation.
“Advances in public safety technology will allow critical information to flow seamlessly from the public, through the 911 networks and on to first responders,” said U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross. “These 911 grant awards are a significant step toward a faster, more resilient emergency system.”
911 Fee Diversion Still A Problem
Absent from the list below are the states New York, New Jersey, Montana, Nevada, Rhode Island and West Virginia. In December 2018, the 10th Annual Report to Congress identified these states as having collected 9-1-1 funds but diverted them to non-related purposes. Of those states, New York and New Jersey diverted the bulk of their collected 9-1-1 surcharge revenue, 90.35% and 77.26% respectively. To date, New York operates under a state law framework that allows diversion of the funds.
These grants will boost public safety through 9-1-1 systems enhanced with new capabilities such as text message, image and video processing, advanced mapping and other improvementsU.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine L. Chao
Diverting 911 fees jeopardizes states’s eligibility for federal 911 grants. In 2012, Congress passed the Next Generation 911 Advancement Act, which dedicated $115 million in FCC spectrum auction proceeds to support future matching grants to eligible states and U.S. territories for the implementation and operation of 911, E911, and NG911 services and applications, migration to IP-enabled emergency networks, and training public safety personnel involved in the 911 emergency response chain. That grant program opened up for states to apply for grant funds in August 2018. Section 6503 of the 2012 Act, requires that applicants certify that 180 days prior to their initial application that no portion of collected 9-1-1 revenue was obligated or expended for a purpose non-related to delivery of 9-1-1 calls.
Those states that were awarded funds:
|State/Territory||Federal Share Award Amount|
|District of Columbia||$500,000|
|Tribal Organization||Federal Share Aware Amount|
|Total Award Amount||$109,250,000|
The program is jointly administered by the Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) and the Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
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