Next Generation 9-1-1 Project


     Technology is changing rapidly. 9-1-1 systems have long depended on the traditional public switched telephone network and CAMA trunks. The legacy system has served us well but we must adapt to be able to answer a myriad of emergency service calls. The Next Generation PSAP must be able to accept text messages, automatic crash notification data, sensory alarms, pictures and streaming video, and 9-1-1 calls from blackberries and various future devices that will access the system through the web. The new technology is too expensive for most area 9-1-1 systems to afford alone.

     Therefore, Seventeen Emergency Telephone System Boards in southern Illinois have bound together through inter-governmental agreements to create a secure public safety broadband network. We will share voice and data associated with a next generation capable 9-1-1 system. We will provide future services at a substantial savings to each agency by sharing costs and technology.

     Instead of purchasing 17 separate sets of NG9-1-1 equipment that would each serve a limited geographic area, we will buy two redundant systems and connect them through a secure IP network. In the event of a major emergency, there will be more than 60 dispatchers available to handle calls instead of four or fewer. The network can also be used for interoperable radio and shared recording systems.

     Stakeholders in this project are the ETSBs, 9-1-1 coordinators and psap managers of the existing 9-1-1 systems in Williamson, Jackson, Franklin, Jefferson, Saline, Gallatin, Perry, Randolph, Union, Johnson, Pulaski, Alexander, Richland, Clay, White, Wabash, and Massac Counties. PSAPs to be served are the sheriff's departments of the above counties; the Police Departments of Marion, Murphysboro, Metropolis, Mt Vernon, DuQuoin, West Frankfort, Sparta, Olney and Carbondale; and the Southern Illinois University and Christopher Central Dispatch psaps. Edwards, Wayne, and Hamilton counties and their sheriff's departments have been identified as potential future participants.

     Jackson County 9-1-1 Director Pat Lustig is the Project Manager. Williamson County 9-1-1 Coordinator Ken Smith is the Steering Committee Chairman. Smith has prepared this Charter and will work with the committee to create a Strategic Plan. Lustig will be the single point of contact with vendors, review and approve project deliverables and keep the committees on task. He will schedule and host meetings. Union County Coordinator Jana Fear, with the help of her assistant Crystal Gurley, will record meetings and prepare minutes. Every steering committee member is working on assigned tasks relating to the planning the project.

     Perry County Coordinator Randy Dement, who heads up the technical committee, has prepared the needs analysis. His committee will prepare the requests for proposals for the IP network, as well as the hardware and software for the server sites and the dispatch centers. Committee members include Jefferson County Coordinator Blake Clemons; Massac County Coordinator Keith; Jackson County IT specialist Steve Dixon; Franklin County Coordinator Rick Basso and Randolph County Coordinator Cindy Wagner. Jackson County GIS specialist Melinda Woker and Assistant Johnson County Coordinator William Barrett will gather map data needed for a regional map.

     Saline County Coordinator Tracy Felty will head up the Operations Committee. He will also work with Smith on outside grant funding. Johnson County Coordinator Jim Cuff and Pulaski County Coordinator Becky Kleckner will formulate by-laws for operation of the system. Wabash County Coordinator Colby Rigg and Richland County Coordinator Juanita Kramer will formulate the communications plan to keep all stakeholders informed of progress on the project.

     White County Coordinator Julie Irwin and Clay County Coordinator Jennifer Brown will handle data collection projects. Gallatin County Coordinator Steve Galt, Marion Police Sergeant John Clarida and the yet to be named Alexander County Coordinator will also serve on the operations committee.

     History of the CSI NG9-1-1 Project

     In the fall of 2006, Pat Lustig, Ken Smith and Randy Dement traveled together to Springfield for a meeting of the Illinois Chapter of the National Emergency Number Association. They discussed how their county 9-1-1 systems might work together on an NG 9-1-1 system. They approached Jim Cuff and Tracy Felty about the feasibility of a 5-county effort.

     In January 2007 Smith and Lustig attended a Technical and Operations Development Conference in Nashville. They met with a gentleman who had helped create a statewide wireless network. The group then contacted our local exchange carrier for a quote on a five-county system. In March, Felty brought in a 9-1-1 consultant to discuss a feasibility study. The group met May 7th deciding to press on without spending on outside help.

     The LEC made a presentation the following week, with a quote of 1.2 million dollars for vendor equipment and the LEC's network. The five coordinators then attended an NG9-1-1 Symposium in Springfield the following week and decided to call themselves CSI, Counties of Southern Illinois 9-1-1. They met with three congressional aides about the possibility of federal funding for the project.

     A firm that had completed a statewide network presented a plan for a regional system using non-proprietary hardware. CSI leaders met with the Regional Planning Commission and Mississippi Delta Development Commission and determined that if more systems participated, the project would be even more cost efficient.

     Franklin, Union and Pulaski Counties soon joined the project. CSI began holding system demonstrations. Six different vendors were hosted from August through November. Meanwhile, word of the project spread and White, Randolph, Wabash and Alexander Counties signed on. The group decided that the city of Marion, which has its own system, would be treated as a separate entity, but that Gallatin County, which contracts with Saline County, would be considered part of Saline. CSI leaders visited the ETSBs of participating and potential 9-1-1 systems in the region. Each was asked to sign a resolution indicating their intent to participate in the project.

     Over the next few months, three additional vendors made presentations and two returned with updated proposals for a 14-county system.

     In January of 2008 the group met with Connect SI to identify existing fiber networks and then with the local cable provider and a local alternate exchange carrier to discuss network options. A statewide network provider provided a quote for linking the psaps together using T1 lines.

     In June, those attending the national NENA Conference watched revised vendor presentations. Another vendor then met with the entire group in Carbondale to gather information. In August, Congressman Costello announced that the House Commerce Committee had approved $600,000 for the CSI project. At that point, Massac and Clay Counties were added as participants.

     Lustig obtained a Justice Department grant to hold meetings with project stakeholders and come up with a document that would prepare the group to send out requests for proposals. Mallorie Tuebner of SEARCH provided a Technical Assistance Report with high-level analysis and recommendations for moving forward with the project. Smith was named Steering Committee Chairman and Lustig was chosen as Project Manager. Tuebner suggested they finalize consortium membership. Additional presentations resulted in Jefferson and Richland Counties being added.

     In October 2008, the group attended the state NENA-APCO conference, viewing equipment demonstrations and hearing the latest on NG9-1-1 standards. Lustig, Smith, Dement and Felty met with Mike Chamness of the Illinois Terrorism Task Force about potential homeland security funding. Lustig, Smith, Dement, Fear and Kleckner met with Marcy Schroll of the Illinois Commerce Commission on issues relating to state regulations that could affect the project.

     In November, Smith, Lustig, Felty, Cuff and Rigg attended a presentation on how interoperable radio could be possible using the NG9-1-1 network. On November 19th, the steering committee met in Herrin and divided up responsibilities. Sub-committees and individuals began working on requests for proposals, the communications plan, the charter, by-laws, regional GIS, and strategic plans.

     The group reconvened January 21st in Carbondale. Smith presented an update Charter. DeMent presented a Needs Analysis document. Cuff presented a first draft of by-laws. Irwin presented system data and Rigg presented a draft of a communications plan. The committee discussed progress on requests for information and inter-governmental agreement language. Felty reported on grant applications. Lustig reported on plans for 9-1-1 goes to Washington and 9-1-1 goes to Springfield.

     Lustig and Smith attended the APCO Winter Summit and NENA ODC/TDC in Orlando and returned with updated information for the March meeting. On February 27th, Congressman Jerry Costello announced that he had pushed through a $600,000 earmark for the project. As the result of that announcement, CSI was inundated with vendor requests. Smith, Lustig and Basso held a conference call with the LEC to discuss network requirements.

     As a result of contacts made during ODC/TDC, Lustig was approached by NENA leaders about the possibility of using CSI as a pilot project. A presentation was planned for when the group was in D.C. for 9-1-1 Goes to Washington. CSI held a 3-hour meeting March 18th in Herrin. The group reorganized into an association, passing a revised inter-governmental agreement and by-laws. Smith presented updated budget projections, Felty reported the potential for RUS funding, and the group tabled finalizing requests for proposals until NENA leaders had a chance to look at them.

     The seven CSI members who traveled to D.C. were thrilled to learn of additional grant options and the great opportunity to work with National NENA.