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Project 43

APCO Launches Project 43 to Tackle Broadband Implications for the PSAP

Practitioner-led effort prepares for the paradigm shift in public safety communications.

Today, the Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials (APCO) International announced the establishment of the next in a series of projects aimed at solving the unique problems encountered by public safety communications professionals. Project 43, Broadband Implications for the PSAP, will help telecommunicators, public safety answering points (PSAPs), 9-1-1 authorities, emergency operations centers, and others in the public safety community to embrace existing and prepare for evolving broadband communications technologies that will impact PSAP operations and support emergency responders.

A number of major, broadband-based developments are leading to a paradigm shift in the role of the PSAP. Implementation of a new nationwide, interoperable public safety broadband network led by the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) will place broadband communications into the hands of first responders. Next Generation 9-1-1 technology will enable PSAPs to utilize broadband data in ways that will transform how the public reaches 9-1-1 and how telecommunicators communicate with first responders. Other IP-based technologies, including those supported through smartphones, tablets, and mobile apps, are widely prevalent throughout the general public and are capable of sending an array of information to the PSAP. As a result, PSAPs of the future will be the nerve center, managing data-rich communications via broadband technology with 9-1-1 callers and first responders.

"As we have done countless times in our 80-year history, APCO is embarking on this new multi-faceted project to address the changing landscape of the public safety communications profession," said APCO President Brent Lee. "The stakes this time are the highest we've seen. The PSAP of the future will be unlike anything we have ever experienced with new technologies sending information into and out of our PSAPs. APCO is launching a major effort to assist PSAPs around the country to address the opportunities and challenges presented by broadband-based technologies," added Lee.

Spearheading Project 43 will be Steven H. Proctor, an APCO past president with 45 years of public safety communications experience, including current service as executive director of the Utah Communications Authority that operates a statewide interoperable radio network, manages the state's 9-1-1 fund and provides systems support to more than 200 public safety agencies and 39 dispatch centers throughout the state. Mr. Proctor will be supported by APCO members and staff through the efforts of a number of project work groups to sort through the internal impacts of broadband on PSAPs, including governance, cybersecurity, operations, technical, staffing, and training. Project 43 will also be a forum to investigate solutions that maximize economies of scale, using consensus-based standards, best practices, and open system architectures.

"APCO is involved in a number of collaborative efforts with FirstNet, the Federal Communications Commission, Departments of Commerce, Homeland Security and Transportation, the public safety community, telecommunications industry and other stakeholders, but we are also uniquely positioned to care about what goes on in the PSAP and to shape policy and practice at this most essential element of emergency response," said Proctor. "The challenges are many and we expect our members to once again answer the call to serve and support Project 43 to best prepare for the PSAP of the future."