The Technical Evolution of the PSAP and 911 Center in an NG911 and FirstNet Environment

After the nationwide public safety broadband network is implemented, under the auspices of the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet)—and Next Generation 911 (NG911) systems are implemented, the manner in which public safety answering points (PSAPs) and 911 centers respond to events will be dramatically different than today.

New data systems and thousands of sensors will provide new and different capabilities for emergency response, including things like real-time video streams, state-of-the-art surveillance systems, geofencing, video communication with first responders and social media alerts and monitoring. These data inputs will raise situational awareness in the PSAP to levels unimaginable.

Much work needs to be done by our nation’s 911 centers if they want to harness the full potential of these networks.

This whitepaper discusses the technical impacts PSAPs will need to overcome including:

  1. Interface development
  2. Data analytics systems
  3. On-site or cloud-based data storage
  4. Cyber security

Download the whitepaper to learn more (registration required.)

January 3rd, 2018

Posted In: Next Generation 911 Networks

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Mission Critical Partners Helps South Carolina Counties Resolve Wireless Location Integrity Challenges

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Wireless location is one of the biggest priorities for any public safety answering point (PSAP). The inability to accurately locate an emergency caller makes it intrinsically more difficult for telecommunicators to determine the appropriate response to an incident. Location issues exist with 911 calls to PSAPs because of the ever-increasing number of wireless emergency calls, the addition of new cell sites to networks, and changing demographic and jurisdictional boundaries.


Several counties in South Carolina suspected that PSAPs in the state were experiencing wireless location accuracy issues. The relatively high percentage of 911 calls that were being misrouted to the wrong PSAP was the big red flag.

The South Carolina counties selected Mission Critical Partners to complete wireless integrity testing and determine the root cause of the issue.


MCP subject matters experts conducted wireless integrity testing in fifty locations that were identified across each county.  Tourist areas were targeted because callers in these locations typically will not know where they are, which makes wireless 911 calls from them more difficult to process. Locations where wireless 911 call activity tends to be higher were also targeted.

Four cellular phones, one from each of the major carriers, were used during testing, and a statistically valid testing model that is replicable was applied to determine accuracy. The testing took two weeks to complete and revealed several interesting facts.


The wireless integrity testing conducted by MCP provided the counties with empirical data it can use to validate the aforementioned anomalies, which is the first step toward working collaboratively with the wireless carriers serving the state to resolve wireless integrity issues, especially in advance of FCC accuracy rules tightening in April 2017.

January 3rd, 2018

Posted In: Next Generation 911 Networks

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Today’s 911 Technology Requires Modernization

Next Gen 911 is a standards-based, all-Internet Protocol (IP) emergency communications infrastructure enabling voice and multimedia 911 communications, and the sharing of this information with field responders and emergency managers. Today, access to 911 is limited for most to a voice call; in contract, NG911 will enable the ability to transmit photos, videos, and other existing and future forms of broadband-enabled data, in addition to voice, to 911 professionals. Implementation of NG911 will:

  • increase compatibility with emerging communications technologies
  • enhance the flexibility, reliability and survivability of 911 systems during major disasters
  • improve emergency response for the public and first responders
  • and reduce the overall cost of operating the 911 system.

Failing to act in a timely manner to initiate the NG911 transition will not prolong deployment, but increase costs, risk incompatibility with emerging communications trends, increase security risks for the 911 system, and create missed opportunities for improved emergency response.

A coordinated Next Gen 911 approach is best

This whitepaper outlines what state and local 911 leaders should make their first priority when it comes to Next Gen 911 implementation, and discusses the key aspects of any Next Gen 911 Strategic Plan in order to guide a successful, coordinated transition to Next Gen 911.

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January 2nd, 2018

Posted In: Next Generation 911 Networks

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Bringing the theory of ‘diffusion of innovations’ to Next Gen 911

Going forward, out with the old and in with the new should be the goal—but to do that, the sector will need some help

The 911 sector has struggled historically with shedding legacy networks and systems, and is following suite in the transition to Next Gen 911. This report discusses how a “planned retirement” is one way that the industry can buck that trend.

It looks at a well-known theory by Everett M. Rogers, described as the ‘diffusion of innovations’ to the public safety sector. The theory discusses how innovation, such as Next Generation 911 (NG911), plays out within a given social group, like public safety communications, and breaks the group down into give distinct categories. These categories include:

  • Innovators – or those who have already implemented NG911 systems or have deployed ESInets
  • Early adopters – or those who have implemented 911 call handling systems that are compliant with NENA’s i3 standards
  • Early majority – or those who are beginning to migrate to NG911
  • Late majority – or those who are less likely to migrate to NG911 until it’s been proven successful or when a federal mandate forces their hand
  • Laggards – the last group that will implement NG911

This whitepaper also discussed “the chasm,” or the key to accelerating NG911 adoption, and what will be required in order for a domino effect that will result in rapid acceleration in NG911 adoption.

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Learn more about Mission Critical Partners’ Next Generation 911 services

January 2nd, 2018

Posted In: Next Generation 911 Networks

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To replace or not to replace? Will FirstNet replace the LMR systems that have traditionally provided mission-critical voice service?

Many public safety communications officials are wondering if they should replace their land mobile radio (LMR) system now that FirstNet has become a reality. This whitepaper makes the case for why agencies shouldn’t abandon their plans to replace their LMR system.

Now that the public safety sector is contemplating the implementation of an IP-based network known as the Nationwide Public Safety Broadband Network (NPSBN). Although this network was intended from the beginning to ramp up the public safety’s data capabilities in the field, a question was raised whether the NPSBN someday will replace the land mobile radio (LMR) systems that traditionally have provided mission-critical voice service.

The NPSBN eventually could one day satisfy all of public safety’s voice and data needs—the big question is when. Many public safety agencies have legacy LMR systems that are approaching end of life today, raising the question if they should burn up already limited financial resources on an LMR system that could obsolete in a few years. MCP recommends that public safety agencies not abandon the replacement of the LMR system for several reasons:

  • Talkaround still will be an issue.
  • System hardening still will be an issue.
  • Coverage and capacity concerns will note go away, and public safety agencies need to have complete visibility into their LMR systems regarding capacity requirements and how they are achieved.
  • User fees are expected to be much higher than today’s LMR systems.
  • Download this whitepaper on land mobile radio replacement to learn more

Download this whitepaper to reach more about if, and why, agencies should abandon a LMR replacement project in the foreseeable future.

Download the whitepaper.


December 19th, 2017

Posted In: Consulting, Radio, Wireless & Broadband

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New PEMA headquarters is a crown jewel among EOC facilities

“This facility is a crown jewel among EOCs that dramatically improves PEMA’s operational and administrative capabilities, both day to day and during emergencies.”

Richard D. Flinn, Jr.,
Director, PEMA

Overview and agency challenge

An EOC facility located in Harrisburg, PA the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency (PEMA) is a cabinet-level agency that is tasked with coordinating prevention, preparedness, response and recovery activities related to natural and manmade emergencies in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Lack of space and age prevented them from serving the needs of a statewide EOC and limited their ability to introduce new technology and replace aging systems.

How MCP helped

With a team of architectural partners and Mission Critical Partners, PEMA built a new state-of-the-art,  132,448-square-foot facility and a 22,985 ancillary building that opened in July 2016. MCP provided a number of services to support EOC facility design including completing a hazards assessment, planning, designing and project managing the implementation of the Internet-Protocol (IP) based, broadband-enabled network infrastructure as well as various communications systems.

The results

The new facility is considered a crown-jewel among mission critical EOC facilities, including:

  • Dramatically enhanced operational and administrative capabilities.
  • Fully-redundant and resilient power, water, HVAC, telecommunications and broadband.
  • Being designed to mitigate and lessen the impact of risk.
  • Multi-generational mission critical technology designed to meet emergency communications needs now and into the future.
  • Significant network savings of between 30 and 40 percent resulting from MCP’s procurement support.

Most impressively, it was delivered under budget and is situated to meet the Commonwealth’s needs for years to come.

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December 5th, 2017

Posted In: Facility Design and Programming

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The Impact of FirstNet and NG911 on 911 and PSAP Operations

The Nationwide Public Safety Broadband Network (NPSBN), being implemented by FirstNet, and Next Generation 911 (NG911) will generate new forms of data communications that will enable 911 PSAP telecommunicators to make better informed decisions when dispatching first responders.

The Impact on 911 and PSAPs

Because the NPSBN and NG911 are Internet Protocol-based, broadband enabled platforms, they will generate new forms of data for PSAPs and 911 centers. This new data will enable telecommunicators to make better informed decisions regarding processing calls and dispatching emergency response personnel and resources.

This whitepaper discusses the profound operational changes that Public Safety Answering Points (PSAPs) and Emergency Operations Centers (EOCs) must make in order to take advantage of the new capabilities of these new communications systems.

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November 27th, 2017

Posted In: Facility & Operations Planning, Facility Design and Programming, Next Generation 911 Networks

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First responders long have depended on hardened land mobile radio (LMR) systems—featuring public safety-grade radios and infrastructure—to provide their mission-critical communications needs. These networks and devices are entirely different from those offered by commercial providers, as the latter are not designed to stand up to the rigors of first responder use. Moreover, while public safety networks are engineered to provide sufficient capacity during events that require a multi-jurisdictional response, commercial networks often are overloaded during a major incident, emergency or otherwise.

This whitepaper discusses why commercial PTT services have emerged more recently in the public sector as a whole—public safety, public works, public transportation and public utilities—driven by a variety of factors, as well as

  • The evolution of commercial push to talk technology in public safety
  • Push to talk app classifications and their advantages and disadvantages
  • When public safety agencies should consider a push to talk solution

Download the complete whitepaper (registration required)

October 2nd, 2017

Posted In: Radio, Wireless & Broadband

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The Nationwide Public Safety Broadband Network (NPSBN), being implemented by the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) and Next Generation 911 are game-changers for the public safety industry because they will make possible what was previously thought impossible. These networks represent a quantum leap forward for the industry; however, they are destined to fall short of their full potential.

Read this report, authored by Kevin Murray, CEO and president of Mission Critical Partners, this report presents the case for why public safety and government leaders should change their thinking as it relates this critical implementation. Building on the argument, the report discusses what’s required to truly reshape the industry and outlines the key steps we need to take to get from here to there.

Read the complete report

October 2nd, 2017

Posted In: Facility & Operations Planning, Facility Design and Programming, Radio, Wireless & Broadband

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Public safety agencies in many of the nation’s largest metropolitan areas face an impending deadline by the FCC to vacate their land mobile radio (LMR) system from the T-Band by 2023. This whitepaper discusses how agencies should begin planning for the upcoming T-Band deadline.

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To meet the need for additional mobile communications capacity in the largest metropolitan areas, the FCC in 1971 opened television channels in the lower UHF band—channels 14-20; 470-512 megahertz (MHz)—that had not been licensed to broadcasters. This spectrum—known as the T-Band—is shared by: public safety; business, industrial and land transportation (BILT) entities; and public (common carrier) entities.

Enactment of the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012 (“the Act”) allocated 700 MHz of broadband spectrum—Band 14—for the Nationwide Public Safety Broadband Network (NPSBN) being implemented under the auspices of the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet). This allocation of spectrum was accompanied by a “give-back” requirement that public safety would abandon the T-Band so that the spectrum could be auctioned for other purposes.

T-Band Deadline Timeline for Spectrum Auction

A timeline for the auction of the spectrum presently occupied by public safety licensees was established by the Act.

  • The FCC was directed to conduct the auction nine years from enactment of the Act—or approximately February 2021.
  • Public safety licensees are required to vacate the channels within two years from the conclusion of the auction, or about 2023.
  • Public safety licensees will be eligible to receive grants from the Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) to cover the relocation costs.
  • No additional spectrum was allocated to accommodate public safety or BILT licensees in the T-Band. Studies by the National Public Safety Telecommunications Council (NPSTC) indicate that a substantial shortfall in available public safety spectrum exists in the 700/800 MHz bands in the top metropolitan areas, compared with the amount of spectrum needed to accommodate the relocation.

T-Band Deadline Relocation Challenges and Risks

It might be assumed that relocation of public safety from the T-Band was ill conceived and presents unacceptable risks. Potential responses to this realization include deferral of deadlines or abandonment of the concept. Such responses would result in maintenance of the status quo. However, another event has increased the risk to public safety agencies that choose to continue operation in T-Band.

In 2017, the “Incentive Auction” of the 600 MHz band resulted in the elimination of TV channels above channel 36. This auction created revenues to compensate television broadcasters for abandonment of their spectrum, or for the costs associated with relocation to other lower channels. This relocation required the FCC to “repack” the remaining broadcasters into fewer channels, including channels 14-20. Repacking adds more television stations on channels shared by public safety, BILT and common carrier entities, and thus may increase interference and noise that will degrade public safety system performance.

How Public Safety Agencies Should Prepare for the T-Band Deadline

Even though it is anticipated that grant funding will be made available for costs associated with migrating off the T-band, public safety agencies currently utilizing the band would be well advised to start planning efforts now.

The most critical piece of planning involves the identification of a migration path. Given the potential lack of sufficient alternate spectrum, as well as other agencies on the T-Band acquiring unused spectrum first, conducting a planning effort now to identify alternate spectrum would provide an advantage in terms of achieving a seamless migration and obtaining new spectrum.

Other planning factors include evaluation of current infrastructure, interoperability needs, migration cost estimates to name a few.

The deadline for migration is 2023, but most public safety systems require a 3- to 5-year window for planning and implementation. Starting the process sooner, rather than later, will put such agencies in much better position to ensure migration is accomplished with the least amount of potential interruption to public safety communications needs.


September 28th, 2017

Posted In: Radio, Wireless & Broadband

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