New DHS S&T laboratory and certification program will focus on NG911 interoperability

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) recently published a Feature Article discussing its progress developing and implementing a new laboratory and Next Generation 911 (NG911) interoperability testing and certification program.

The primary goal of this lab is to provide operators, manufacturers, and vendors with a physical and virtual test facility that offers standards, guidelines, and metrics that can be used to test and validate interoperability of their technology solutions. The new lab will focus on improving interoperability testing of solutions accessed across 911 platforms at the state and local levels.

According to statistics from the National Emergency Number Association (NENA), an estimated 240 million calls are routed to first responders every year via our country’s 911 system. At the same time, NENA estimates that, as of February 2021, there were 5,748 disparate 911 platforms in the U.S., each operating its own technologies, components, and processes for sending and receiving calls and routing and dispatching emergency medical services.

The new laboratory and NG911 interoperability testing and certification program is a joint effort between S&T and multiple agencies, including the Critical Infrastructure Resilience Institute (CIRI) Center of Excellence, the Department of Transportation, Texas A&M University’s Internet2 Technology Evaluation Center (ITEC), and other government and private stakeholders.

This multi-phase joint effort has been underway since 2020. In the first phase, S&T, CIRI, and ITEC conducted community outreach efforts among various stakeholders and partners in the 911 space.

Phase two is ongoing and estimated to run until late 2023. This second phase involves:

  • Defining which components of a 911 system will need to be tested with vendor solutions.
  • Developing related conformance, compatibility, and interoperability tests and test cases.
  • Setting up baselines for determining metrics for success and effectiveness in the field.

To learn more, see DHS S&T’s March 2 Feature Article.

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