911 Regionalization - Tools and Information

Thinking about creating a regionalized 911 system? This section of our website explores why some 911 jurisdictions have made that decision, what made them successful, what challenges they encountered and what they did to overcome them. It is hoped that the information presented will help local and state 911 managers and authorities in providing leadership and support for the regionalization of 911 systems.

 

Why Consider Regionalization?

There has been an increase in the regionalization of 911 systems in recent years, driven, in part by the need to:

  • Reduce costs
  • Use costly 911 system components more efficiently
  • Minimize the number of times a 911 call has to be transferred
  • Enhance purchasing power
  • Leverage technological advances to improve or expand services to citizens

The current economic environment has moved many state and local 911 leaders to consider whether regionalization might reduce costs and at the same time improve services. Even in good economic times, small stand-alone agencies – particularly in rural areas – face challenges in maintaining adequate resources, equipment, training, and expertise necessary to meet the basic proficiencies and operational capabilities that are required to meet citizens’ expectations of 911 services. Declining 911 fee revenues resulting from declining land-line telephone service is another driver. Next Generation 911 (NG911) is also a driver, since, by definition, NG911 is a system of systems involving shared services and infrastructure. NG911 cannot be achieved by a single PSAP in isolation. For all these reasons, regionalization is increasingly attractive.

 

What is Regionalization?

Regionalization can be defined as two or more communities (or organizations, or agencies) that join together in a formal, mutually-beneficial working relationship to optimize services provided to the customers of their communities (or organizations, or agencies).

Although some use the terms “regionalization” and “consolidation” interchangeably, they are not the same. Regionalized 911 communications may involve consolidation of one or more PSAPs into a single facility, but it does not have to.

There is more than one way to regionalize, as evidenced by how existing regional 911 systems differ from one another. For example, some have consolidated multiple Public Safety Answering Points (PSAPs) into a few regional PSAPs serving a large geographic area. Others have a single regional PSAP serving a large geographic area. Still others have regionalized virtually by sharing the 911 infrastructure and technology without consolidating PSAPs or creating a large regional call center. Many regional 911 systems comprise multiple counties. One, the Mid-America Regional Council (MARC) covers portions of two states. All of these differing arrangements have proven to be mutually advantageous to the parties involved.

 

Here are some resources to help you decide if regionalization is right for you


Latest Thinking – Task Force on Optimal PSAP Architecture (TFOPA)

The January 29, 2016 TFOPA Final Report reflects the thinking of some of the best minds in public safety on the topic of regionalization.

 

Planning Considerations

The literature and real-world experiences that may be found in this repository identify the common issues that you need to consider at the outset of the planning process.

 

State Coordination and Funding Incentives

While there have been successful regional ESInet projects without strong state support or financial incentives, the evidence shows that regional ESInet projects move along more quickly where that environment exists. States should consider establishing such a framework.

 

Regionalization Case Studies

This section provides some brief examples of successful efforts to regionalize 911 services to help you through your own regionalization process.

 

Additional Information

This section contains additional and helpful information related to regionalization of 911 systems.