Mission Critical Partners Weighs in on Smartphone Apps’ Effect on 9-1-1

February 10th, 2017

Posted In: News

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (February 10, 2017)—Mission Critical Partners (MCP) today announced that the firm recently filed comments with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) urging the Commission to initiate a proceeding to consider how best to apply existing regulations to smartphone 9-1-1 applications and, where necessary, adopt new requirements.

MCP’s comments provide the FCC with the firm’s experiences for the purposes of helping the Commission understand how these applications interact with the
9-1-1 system both today and in the future. The comments also address the role the FCC should play in adopting regulations on these 9-1-1 applications. MCP recognizes the need to ensure that smartphone 9-1-1 applications reliably provide 9-1-1 call-takers with useful information in an efficient manner, while also ensuring that those same rules do not stifle innovation in the marketplace.

The FCC requested public comments after the National Association of State 9-1-1 Administrators (NASNA) raised several issues concerns on this topic, including:

  • Standards and technological concerns regarding 9-1-1 apps
  • Testing and/or certification requirements for 9-1-1 apps
  • Rules governing the marketing of 9-1-1 apps

MCP urges the FCC to initiate a proceeding to consider sensibly applying existing rules to address the reliability, security, interconnection and accuracy concerns related to applications and systems that interconnect to the 9-1-1 system, such as 9-1-1 smartphone applications, as raised by NASNA. While not included in NASNA’s letter, MCP expects that a need exists for the FCC to consider the broader potential for applications enabled by the Internet of Things (IoT) accessing 9-1-1 systems, which may present similar challenges and concerns as presented by the smartphone 9-1-1 applications.

From a technical perspective, MCP recommends that the FCC consider rules that prevent users of smartphone 9-1-1 apps from overriding the location information generated by the device and indicating another location some distance away, a practice known as location spoofing. This may include requiring smartphone 9-1-1 applications to provide a 9-1-1 center with both the true location of the device as well as the user-generated location, or alerting the 9-1-1 call-taker when a location has been overridden.

Concerning testing and certification of 9-1-1 apps, MCP supports the goal of holding smartphone 9-1-1 applications to the same high standard of accuracy, security, and reliability as other systems that interconnect to 9-1-1. MCP encourages the FCC to classify providers of smartphone 9-1 1 applications as “originating service providers” and subject them to the same rules followed by wireline, wireless and Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) service providers for the limited purpose of 9-1-1 call delivery. MCP also recommends that the FCC mandates testing of smartphone 9-1-1 applications before they are released to the public to ensure that they comply with industry standards.

“We’re looking forward to the Commission developing sensible regulations that ensure smartphone 9-1-1 apps serve emergency callers effectively and reliably, and offer our subject-matter expertise to support this vitally important endeavor,” said Kevin Murray, MCP’s president and founder.

The full text of MCP’s comments are available on the FCC’s comment system here.

About Mission Critical Partners (MCP)

Mission Critical Partners (MCP) is a professional services firm that helps clients enhance and evolve their public safety systems and operations through our extensive experience, knowledge and resources. By providing insight and support every step of the way, our clients are able to transform their mission critical operations, maximizing the value of their investments and ensuring optimal performance and success. Additional information and career opportunities are available at missioncriticalpartners.com.


Morgan Sava
Mission Critical Partners

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