On December 6th, 2022 the Wisconsin Department of Military Affairs (DMA), Office of Emergency Communications (OEC), and 9-1-1 Subcommittee made publicly available the 2020-22 Next Generation 9-1-1 (NG9-1-1) Biennial report. This report, due to the Governor and State Legislature every 2 years, provides updates on the status of NG9-1-1 planning, implementation and operations in Wisconsin. The reporting period is for July 1, 2020 through June 30, 2022.
NextGen911 is a statewide emergency number system that provides standardized interfaces for emergency assistance requests. This system has the ability to handle various types of requests including calls, text and multimedia messages. The system relies on the integration of accurate and standardized geospatial data, which plays an essential role in the delivery and routing of emergency services to required locations. Immediate benefits include faster call delivery, network reliability & built-in redundancies and enhanced caller location & call routing.
Key Milestones Achieved
- Statewide data assessment of local Geographic Information Systems (GIS) data readiness for NextGen911
- Developed & published the Wisconsin NextGen911 GIS data standards
- Executed contract with AT&T for Emergency Services IP Network (ESInet) & NextGen Core Services
- 34 Public Safety Answering Points (PSAPs) signed participation agreements to begin NexGen911 implementation
- Established multiple competitive grant programs to provide training, equipment upgrades, and geospatial data development and standardization
- Allocated funding and began procurement process for NextGen911 GIS data management services
An essential component to the NextGen911 system is an Emergency Services IP Network (ESInet). This provides a reliable mechanism to manage large volumes of information to and from callers, as well as to support and transport 911 calls. A 5 year contract with AT&T was executed in June of 2021 to provide a statewide ESInet & NextGen core services to all participating PSAPs in Wisconsin. The amount of time and resources required for individual PSAP transition will vary greatly, depending on the current PSAP infrastructure and the number of steps required to meet the requirements of the new system.
As previously noted, GIS data plays a very important role in greater NextGen911 system. GeoComm, an outside geospatial services consulting company, performed a statewide GIS data assessment to determine Wisconsin’s readiness for NextGen911 implementation. This assessment helped identify the tasks, at both the state and local levels, for preparing GIS data for NextGen911 integration. GeoComm also worked closely with the Wisconsin Land Information Association (WLIA) NG9-1-1 task force in the development of the Wisconsin NG9-1-1 GIS Data Standard & Best Practices document. This standard established “a uniform, common data model for the required NG9-1-1 GIS layer in the State of Wisconsin.”
Understanding the significant amount of time and resources required to implement NextGen911 across the state, legislation was passed establishing two grant programs to support this implementation. They are:
PSAP Grant Program – This is a competitive grant program focused on basic training and minimum service standards for PSAPs.
GIS Grant Program – This is a competitive grant program for land information offices and is concentrated on GIS data preparation for NextGen911 integration.
In addition to these statewide statutory grant programs, Wisconsin also received a Federal 911 grant award of $2.9 million in August of 2019 from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration. The majority of the projects associated with this funding focused on PSAP equipment replacement and planning efforts for GIS data transition. Prior to the end of the grant expenditure period in March 2022, 96% of the available funds had been spent.
Any project of this magnitude encounters problems and challenges at all stages of the process. The statewide NextGen911 design, implementation and migration is no different. These challenges include but are not limited to:
- Information flow to PSAPs and data sharing across PSAP jurisdictional boundaries
- ESInet PSAP equipment compatibility requirements and aging equipment
- Interconnectivity of various ESInets both within the state and in bordering states
- PSAP staffing shortages and turnover
This reporting period saw significant progress in the planning and development of the State’s NextGen911 implementation. The interconnection of local and regional ESInets operating within Wisconsin and in PSAPs bordering the state will be essential to the realization of a fully functional NextGen911 system. Continued support and funding at local and state levels will be required to make NextGen911 a reality in Wisconsin.
The full 2020-22 Next Generation 9-1-1 (NG9-1-1) Biennial report can be found here.