The Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency has selected Mission Critical Partners to support its transition to a new, modern emergency communications system, the company announced Tuesday.
Mission Critical Partners, a public safety technology firm, signed on to guide the state through the migration, implementation, and post-migration phases of the 911 upgrade, offering support and expertise, in addition to ensuring the new system meets national cybersecurity standards.
The upgrade aims to modernize the infrastructure used to deliver 911 calls to the commonwealth’s 61 county-run answering points. The upgrade includes a move to geographic information systems data, in place of the tabular address data, to increase location accuracy and help the state keep up with new smartphone technology.
Last year, 74% of 911 calls in Pennsylvania were made on wireless devices. As in other states, Pennsylvania is also planning for its next-generation 911 system to eventually handle texts, photos, videos and other data.
“The legacy 911 system and more importantly the selective routers being used to provide 911 service today are nearing the end of their useful life,” PEMA communications director Ruth Miller said in an email to StateScoop. “As counties are migrated to the next generation 911 service and legacy 911 services are decommissioned, an immediate benefit is many costs counties pay today for 911 call delivery will now be covered by PEMA.”
She said counties will be able to use those funds to cover other 911 system needs.
A state contract with Comtech Telecommunications Corp., which is providing the broadband infrastructure for its new system, is fixed at $13.2 million. This provides FEMA and its county partners with budget certainty over the next eight years, Miller said.
Pennsylvania plans to migrate all of its county-based 911 centers to the new service by mid-2024, working from west to east. Eight county 911 centers have already made the transition, Miller said.