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  • Economics, Policy, And Technology Of Consolidating Public Safety Answering Points (Psaps) Under Federal Communications Policy

    More capable internet-protocol, broadband technologies, and information systems are increasing the capacity of Public Safety Answering Points (PSAPs) to receive more calls and better support first responders through Next Generation (NG) 911 systems. This PSAP capacity is driving the need to consider whether state and local governments should consolidate some of their approximately 6,000 PSAPs. Little coherent federal policy guidance and less thoughtful state mandates on consolidating PSAPs point to the need for federal and state consolidation policy frameworks to urge and support the consolidation of PSAPs. Congress and state legislatures must face the subtle but contentious state and local policy concern of consolidating PSAPs. Creating contention is allegedly the adverse effect of the consolidation of PSAPs on PSAP culture, jobs, facilities, dispatch, and operations, but such effects have not prevented or greatly diminished the operations of existing consolidated PSAPs. Consolidation is made more challenging by the need to implement NG911 systems to provide NG911 services. Three not-for-profit organizations urge the implementation of NG911 services by 2020, and one other will examine how PSAPs manage and control the receipt of more emergency calls and data to notify and support first responders. Thus, state and federal policy-makers must recognize and address economic, technological, and policy interests to establish federal and state policy frameworks to consolidate PSAPs while counties and municipalities also implement NG911 services.