Congresswoman Norma Torres

Representing the 35th District of California
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Torres, Eshoo, Pallone Introduce Legislation to Fund and Improve 9-1-1 Systems

December 20, 2017
Press Release

WASHINGTON, DC— Today, Representative Norma J. Torres (CA-35), along with Reps. Anna G. Eshoo (CA-18), Co-Chair of the Congressional NextGen 9-1-1 Caucus and Frank Pallone (NJ-06), Ranking Member of the Energy and Commerce Committee, introduced legislation to upgrade our nation’s 9-1-1 call centers to meet the demands of rapidly changing communications technology. The Next Generation (NG) 9-1-1 Act of 2017 strengthens federal efforts to help state and local governments to transition to NG9-1-1 technology by providing new federal funding, technical assistance, and training, while ensuring 9-1-1 is kept under state and local control.

“Our 9-1-1 call centers are the first point of contact for Americans in an emergency situation, but they rely on technology that has been in place since the time of the first 9-1-1 call 50 years ago,” Rep. Eshoo said. “We need to make certain the public safety community has all the tools it needs to serve and protect our communities because in life-threatening situations, seconds matter. This legislation will help bring our 9-1-1 call centers into the 21st Century.”

“In the wake of so many natural disasters this year, it’s clearer than ever that we need to upgrade our 9-1-1 systems to be more secure and resilient.  Americans deserve access to better technology when they call 9-1-1—that means ensuring that 9-1-1 knows your location when you place a call at the very least.  I’m proud that we’re introducing legislation that will help save lives and modernize our 9-1-1 centers,” Ranking Member Pallone said.

“As someone who spent seventeen years as a 9-1-1 dispatcher, I know first-hand the demands and stress of the job,” Rep. Torres said. “Dispatchers must process powerful pleas for help and deliver the information in just seconds to our first responders. I’ll never forget my experience in the job – where I was asked to interpret callers’ information only from the limited information they could share over the phone. The transition to a new system won’t be easy, but NextGen 9-1-1 will provide our dispatchers with greater tools to save lives – tools I could have used to expedite help to those I was trying to help. The Next Generation (NG) 9-1-1 Act of 2017 will bridge the gap between what is needed and what is possible.”

NG9-1-1 allows people to communicate with 9-1-1 call centers the same way they communicate with each other. When faced with an emergency, people will be able to send text messages, pictures, videos and other information captured by the devices we use today to 9-1-1 call centers, which currently rely on aging infrastructure and outdated technology. These call centers will be able to process and pass this information seamlessly to first responders across jurisdictions so they have the most accurate information about an emergency.

Progress on 9-1-1 has been slow though, largely due to lack of funds and local resources.  Earlier this year, Senator Nelson and Senator Klobuchar introduced the NG 9-1-1 Act in the Senate.  With the introduction of the NG 9-1-1 Act in the House, Congress is one-step closer to expanding the federal NG9-1-1 grant program, establishing an advisory board to recommend updates to the definition of NG9-1-1, and providing assistance to NG9-1-1 systems to help them guard against cyberattacks.