RD226 - Commonwealth of Virginia E-911 Services Board FY 2012 Annual Report

Executive Summary:
The Code of Virginia (§ 56-484.14) requires the E-911 Services Board (the Board) to report annually to the Governor, the Senate Committee on Finance, the House Committee on Appropriations, and the Virginia State Crime Commission on the following:

(i) the state of enhanced 9-1-1 services in the commonwealth,

(ii) the impact of, or need for, legislation affecting enhanced 9-1-1 services in the commonwealth,

(iii) the need for changes in the E-911 funding mechanism provided to the Board, as appropriate, and

(iv) monitor developments in enhanced 9-1-1 service and multi-line telephone systems and the impact of such technologies upon the implementation of Article 8 (§ 56-484.19 et seq.) of Chapter 15 of Title 56.

The state of enhanced 9-1-1 services in the commonwealth

Though the original goal was to have all localities providing wireline E-911 service by July 1, 2003, there is still one (1) locality left that is diligently working to deploy this level of service. The locality anticipates that the wireline project will be completed by June 30, 2013.

Wireless enhanced 9-1-1 (E-911) Phase I service, where the caller’s telephone number and the address of the cell site are provided to the public safety answering point (PSAP), is essentially complete, with only one deployment remaining. The one locality that has not completed this deployment is among the most rural in Virginia and is aggressively working toward deployment.

The deployment of wireless E-911 Phase II, which provides the PSAP with the caller’s actual location by longitude and latitude, is nearing completion as well, with only one deployment remaining. As the commonwealth approaches completion of the deployment of enhanced 9-1-1 services on traditional telecommunication devices, the focus of the E-911 industry shifts to the future of E-911 and service improvement.

The localities, telecommunications service providers and E-911 vendors should be commended for all of their effort expended thus far to provide the citizens of Virginia with the best E-911 system available. However, emergency calling in the commonwealth is evolving beyond the traditional 9-1-1 call. Text messaging and instant messaging are becoming a more common method of communicating than traditional two-way voice communication. Pictures and videos are increasingly shared through the use of smart phones. Video and text based communications are now the communications norm for the deaf and hard of hearing.

Yet, with all of these advancements in consumer communications technology, Virginia’s legacy 9-1-1 system cannot deliver any of this information to PSAPs. The architecture of the legacy 9-1-1 system is based on circuit switched telephony designed to enable telephone calls to 9-1-1, not data. In order to support the current and future needs of Virginia citizens, we need to continue the planning process for an Internet Protocol (IP)-based communications system, known as Next Generation 9-1-1 (NG9-1-1) (*1) to enable PSAPs to receive this valuable data. Currently, this planning initiative is being led by the E-911 Services Board and the Virginia Information Technologies Agency’s (VITA’s) Public Safety Communications (PSC) Division and is described in the Virginia NG9-1-1 Implementation Plan. (*2)

The impact of, or need for, legislation affecting enhanced wireless emergency telecommunications services in the commonwealth

The E-911 Services Board is not recommending any specific legislative changes for the 2013 General Assembly session, but rather that commonwealth statutes and rules that use such terms as “calls,” “telephone service,” “emergency telephone system,” “trunks,” “ dials/dialed,” be examined and modified as appropriate to cover the calling and messaging capabilities enabled by NG9-1-1. It is recommended that a thorough review of the sections of statute in which the term “E9-1-1” is used be undertaken. This type of legislative review is a necessary precursor to any investment in or deployment of any NG9-1-1 technologies.

The need for changes in the E-911 funding mechanism provided to the Board, as appropriate

At the end of FY 2012, the Wireless E-911 Fund remains fiscally sound, but moving forward, an existing appropriation and transfer from the Wireless Fund to other agencies and programs will challenge the Board’s ability to meet their financial obligations to both the wireless carriers and the PSAPs and maintain the viability of the Fund. The current biennial budget includes a $3.7 million appropriation to the State Police for wireless 9-1-1 call taking. However, all localities in the commonwealth are currently accepting wireless calls and no longer rely on the State Police to transfer wireless 9-1-1 calls to them. Thus, the justification for the State Police to receive Wireless E-911 funding no longer exists.

Also included in the current biennium budget is an $8M transfer from the Wireless Fund to the Compensation Board budget to support sheriff’s dispatchers. This action may impact the commonwealth’s ability to receive federal E-911 grant funding in the future. However, the impact of the $8M transfer has already been felt by the PSAP community in the amount of funding available to them for the replacement of outdated equipment and to expand services to the citizens of the commonwealth. The $8M transfer to the Compensation Board means that there is $8M less funding available for future PSAP Grant Program grants to fund critical PSAP projects, as well as plan for NG9-1-1.

Monitor developments in enhanced 9-1-1 service and multi-line telephone systems

This is a new duty of the Board that was enacted on July 1, 2007. Most of the provisions of Article 8 (§ 56-484.19 et seq.) of Chapter 15 of Title 56 took effect on July 1, 2009, and information requested on these provisions is provided to interested parties.

The following sections of the report provide a more detailed analysis of the current state of E-911 in the commonwealth, as well as the Wireless E-911 Fund.
(*1) NG9-1-1 is an IP-based system comprised of managed IP-based networks (ESInets), functional elements (applications), and databases that replicate traditional E9-1-1 features and functions and provide additional capabilities. NG9-1-1 is designed to provide access to emergency services from all connected communications sources, and provide multimedia data capabilities for PSAPs and other emergency service organizations

(*2) http://www.vita.virginia.gov/isp/default.aspx?id=14864