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  1. Science and Technology Directorate
  2. News Room
  3. DHS S&T Awards to University of Illinois for Next Generation 9-1-1 Interoperability Testing

News Release: DHS S&T Awards $3M to University of Illinois for Next Generation 9-1-1 Interoperability Testing

Release Date: November 29, 2023

S&T Public Affairs, 202-286-9047

WASHINGTON –The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) awarded $3.15 million to the Critical Infrastructure Resilience Institute (CIRI), a DHS Center of Excellence led by the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, to create the test methods, procedures, software, tools, and systems necessary for Next Generation 911 (NG911) interoperability testing. NG911 systems enable interconnection among a wide range of public and private networks, such as wireless networks, the Internet, and regular phone networks.

CIRI will develop processes for testing voice, video, and data solutions, including end-to-end interoperability. This testing will enhance community safety by ensuring first responders and operators nationwide have the technology to answer 9-1-1 calls promptly and accurately.

“NG911 brings many essential enhancements to the critical 9-1-1 emergency service, such as improved call routing and processing, the capability to convey voice, location, video, text and caller/incident information. 911 agencies can utilize equipment from multiple vendors, and different vendors may be used within the same community or region,” said Dana Saft, S&T Office of University Programs (OUP) Program Manager. “Ensuring interoperability is critical for the success of Next Gen 911 operations. The NG911 Interoperability Testing Program project was created to address that need.”

S&T and CIRI will collaborate to develop the methods, procedures, and tools needed for NG911 interoperability testing. This includes developing a test code for interoperable testing of NG911 system components and functional elements; completing the ISO 17025 certification as mandated to become a DHS Compliance Assurance Program (CAP) test lab; validating the test lab through conformance and end-to-end testing; and ensuring ongoing test facility operations.

The first phase of this project established a framework for testing - covering the technical, governance and sustainability aspects. The second phase formalized the operational aspects of testing, while also providing funding for constructing a testbed and accrediting the testbed lab according to the international ISO/IEC 17025 standard. The third phase will take place over the next several years which involves NG911 conformance and interoperability testing, creating a cybersecurity assessment for both the test lab and the test system, and offering recommendations for the Emergency Communications Cybersecurity Center (EC3) and the interconnection between NG911 and Public Safety Broadband.

“CIRI has been a steadfast partner with DHS since the project’s initiation in 2020,” said Randy Sandone, CIRI’s Executive Director. “We eagerly look forward to continuing collaboration with S&T and various stakeholder groups, such as the National Emergency Number Association, the Association of Public Safety Communications, the National Association of State 911 Administrators, and the International Wireless Communication Expo in this exciting effort and contributing CIRI’s expertise and experience in this area.”

Last Updated: 11/29/2023
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