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Top 10 ways to lose a Great Employee November 13, 2014

Posted by TelUS Consulting Services in Job Opportunities.
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I recently read an article on this subject and it compelled me to add my own twists. If you’re a good manager or leader then you probably already know most of this, but it is worthwhile to remind ourselves of them from time to time. Here are my top 10 ten ways to lose great employees;

1. Be dishonest.

Integrity matters. Most good employees and all great ones have integrity. So, lying to them, to their coworkers, to customers or vendors is sure to turn them off. Over-billing a customer, not paying a vendor, having different rules for different people, not following thru on your agreements, and even just “little white lies” are all sure to catch the private ire of those employees who can best help you and your organization succeed. Don’t think they don’t notice; they DO.

2. Micromanage.

Sadly, we have all experienced way too much of it. Micromanagement screams of trust and security issues. And exactly why would your top performers want to work for someone with trust and security issues?

It’s not just classical micromanagement either. We have all seen truly exceptional people who excelled in their role end up with their jobs “dumbed-down” to cater to the lowest common denominator, and to the point they were no longer challenged or motivated. Needless to say, it wasn’t long before they were looking for an opportunity somewhere else.

3. Under-pay them & take them for granted.

Yes, taking advantage of your situation or position with an emplouee will usually get a good person out of your organization as fast as they can possibly find an opportunity elsewhere. I’ve seen organizations under-pay very good people. One executive even said to me, in private, “Well, just what are they going to, do? Leave?  They have no place to go. The (job) market is poor.” This was his way of rationalizing those so many years of reduced bonuses for a dedicated staff of employees who really had earned them – and who were contractually entitled. It wasn’t long before people actually did have someplace else to go, and go they did. As a manager stay tuned to what industry standards are for your employees positions and compensate them fairly if you want to keep them.

4. Don’t take time to communicate (listen to their concerns).

Good people almost always actually want what is best for the organization. They may have differing opinions on what that is, but they can be passionate, even fiery about it. If you’re dismissive of their concerns, when raised, you’re headed down the road to losing top performing people. Above all, communicate with them. Do not leave them in the dark about company policy or directive changes. These sort of issues directly affect your top performers and yes, they take it personal.

5. Don’t say “Thank you.”

It’s a small thing, but it really does make a difference. Even small gestures of appreciation, complements on good work, acknowledging that someone stayed late / came in early / went the extra mile help keep talented people motivated and engaged. A small gift card, permission to leave early for the day or work from home the day before a holiday (if work is getting completed), a kind word, an email, all of these things cost very little but go a long way. People care if someone notices when they are doing a good job.

6. Be cold and uncaring (to them and to their coworkers).

People are human. Why do we seem to forget this so often? They have personal struggles, ambitions, families, crises, etc. One of my favorite bosses from the past was a gentleman who knew my wife’s name, my son’s name, my dog’s name, and more. I met both of his kids and I had met his wife before started working for him. He didn’t go beyond appropriate boundaries, but I really knew he cared about me as an employee and as a person. He was personable and when I needed a friend, a true mentor, someone I could go to with a problem, a “dad” type figure. I knew I could talk to him and he’d help me out however he could. He got a lot of loyalty from me in return. I should also point out that talented people watch how you treat other people, not just themselves, and they take note of it.

7. Forget the values that made your organization a success.

I’ve been part of organizations that truly lived their core values (and even years later can recite them by heart, because they were so prominent). We all knew what they were.We all agreed they were important, or at least accepted them as such. The leadership talked about them, and everything we did as a company HAD to align to them. I left an organization once after it forgot its values and stopped talking about them because it wasn’t long before the entity had lost its way. I have also been in companies that barely even mention their values – and really, what that says is, “Our core value is to make more money for our owners, whatever it takes.”

Not exactly compelling, but that’s what is being conveyed.If that’s what you’re really all about, you may as well admit it, there is nothing wrong with making money. When I build a team, I am very explicit about my expectations.

8. Ignore their personal and professional development.

Note that there are two dimensions to this – professional development (technical skills, industry knowledge, expertise, professional certifications, formal training, etc.) and personal development. Leaders only follow stronger leaders, so if you want to keep current or future leaders, be sure you are mentoring them. Let them learn from your own life experience; telling good stories from your experience can be a great way to do this. Help them become better professionals – and better people. They will appreciate this beyond measure. Additionally, don’t delude yourself into thinking that their career growth is their problem. It is your problem so make a point of investing in it and top notch people will likely repay you for this with good work.

9. Don’t be selective who you hire in the first place.

We all know that hiring people who really fit and are highly talented is tough. We know that the repercussions of a bad hire are awful for everyone. Make sure people really will fit into your organization. I have found that the recruiting process is often commensurate with the organization and role. The better (and more prestigious) the entity and higher profile the role, the tougher the recruiting process often seems – and it should be. Let’s face it, a half hour “get to know you”, or even an hour isn’t really enough to get to know a prospective employee well enough to make a truly informed decision. Talented people often don’t mind a tough (within reason) selection process because they are usually competitive people who thrive on challenge. Invest the time needed to really explore what makes a person tick before you hire them. remember, talented people want to be around other talented people.

10. Set the bar low.

Great people will get discouraged and either leave or adapt to mediocrity if that is what they perceive is deemed acceptable. I’ve seen mediocrity accepted, rewarded, applauded, and even promoted!  The impact of this on team morale (and on the highest performing team members) was palpable. Set the bar high and then become a cheerleader – even if people don’t make it over the high bar, point out how high the bar was set and how high people did get, and celebrate the success they did have at the right level. They may just make it over that high bar the next time.

Cities band together to form New Century Cities venture to ensure broadband to their constituents October 23, 2014

Posted by TelUS Consulting Services in Social Media.
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Next Century Cities, an initiative billing itself as a bipartisan effort “dedicated to ensuring the availability of next-generation broadband Internet for all communities,” launched Monday with 32 cities on board.

The coalition is banding together after two cities – Chattanooga, Tenn., and Wilson, N.C., issued requests to the FCC to preempt state laws restricting their ability to provide broadband service. FCC chairman Tom Wheeler has signaled that he wants to use the FCC’s power to prempt what he believes are efforts by incumbent ISPs to block municipal broadband via advocating for those restrictive state laws. In response, a group of dozen Republican senators expressed concerns about Wheeler’s plan, holding that it’s a state’s rights issue.

Next Century Cities, launched Monday at an event in Santa Monica that included a video message from Wheeler, said its partnership cities and their elected leaders are coming together to “recognize the importance of leveraging gigabit-level Internet to attract new businesses and create jobs, improve health care and education, and connect residents to new opportunities.”

Next Century Cities said it will engage with and assist communities in developing and deploying next-generation broadband Internet, with participating cities agreeing to share information on what works and what does not.

Next Century Cities, set up as a project of New Venture Fund, a 501(c)(3) public charity, notes on its Web site that it is supported by a group of donors that includes the Ford Foundation, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the Open Society Foundations, and Google.

Next Century Cities on Monday announced the following 32 cities as inaugural partners: -Ammon, Idaho -Auburn, Ind. -Austin, Texas -Boston, Mass. -Centennial, Colo. -Champaign, Ill. -Chattanooga, Tenn. -Clarksville, Tenn. – Jackson, Tenn. -Kansas City, Kan. -Kansas City, Mo. -Lafayette, La. -Lexington, Ky. -Leverett, Mass. -Louisville, Ky. -Montrose, Colo. -Morristown, Tenn. -Mount Vernon, Wash. -Palo Alto, Calif. -Ponca City, Okla. -Portland, Ore. -Raleigh, N.C. -Rockport, Maine -San Antonio, Texas -Sandy, Ore. -Santa Cruz County, Calif. -Santa Monica, Calif. -South Portland, Maine -Urbana, Ill. -Westminster, Md. -Wilson, N.C. -Winthrop, Minn. –

This approach looks like not just a logical next step but almost a necessity, with many incumbent’s recognizing the increased bandwidth usage of their customers and seizing the opportunity to raise rates and lower usage limits. I believe this initiative has the best interests of the cities and the voters at heart, republican’s had best listen to their constituents.

 

Joe Buck, NCE

Three Questions Management Should Avoid October 21, 2014

Posted by TelUS Consulting Services in Job Opportunities.
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Questions can engage and motivate people, but they can also discourage them by seeming confrontational. To engage employees (not scare them), reframe these questions:

  • What’s the problem?
    • Rather than fixating on problems and weaknesses, use positive questions geared toward leveraging strengths and opportunities and achieving goals: What are we doing well, and how might we build upon that?
  • Whose fault is it?
    • This focuses on finding a scapegoat when there is likely plenty of blame to go around. To identify weak links without focusing too much on blame, ask: How can we work together to shore up any weaknesses?
  • Haven’t we tried this already?
    • This is important to ask, but the wrong tone makes it sound condescending and defeatist. It doesn’t recognize that failure could have been due to bad timing, not the idea itself. Ask: If we tried this now, what would be different – and how might it change the results?

 

 

Define Roles on Your Next Project October 20, 2014

Posted by TelUS Consulting Services in Social Media.
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So you’ve  pulled together a winning team, and you’ve set timely and manageable team project goals. Now you need to establish the roles that each member will play. Not having this conversation can lead to confusion, multiple people trying to jump on the same task, turf battles, etc. Avoid this headache by explicitly laying out who will do what – and define what it means to succeed in each role. You need:

  • A project manager to set a timeline and hold members accountable.
  • Subject matter specialists to organize and lead larger portions of the project, like doing research or analysis.
  • The PM should record all key decisions and document team progress.
  • The PM should inform stakeholders (clients, boss, customers) about team activities – and share stakeholder thoughts with the team.

 

I feel certain I have left out a few other highlights however following the above guideline will ensure a successful on-time project implementation.

 

Joe Buck, NCE

Don’t let mismanaged priorities take you off track August 18, 2014

Posted by TelUS Consulting Services in Job Opportunities.
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Running an organization requires keeping priorities straight. whenever you see leaders mis-prioritize their private time, productive effort, and personal relationships, they risk a crash.

The 3 “Ps” of Priorities:

Private Time

When speaking of private time,we are not referring to leisure time. Rather, we are talking about the time a leader sets aside for thinking, reflecting, and strategic planning. As leaders, we have a bias for action; we want to make things happen. Since private time feels unproductive, we tend to skip it. As a result, our leadership suffers from a thought-deficit. Prioritizing private time replenishes our storehouse of creative ideas and clarifies our vision, better positioning us to lead well.

 

Production Time

Production time is the time we set aside to do things that bring about desired results and enhance our value to the organization. Routinely ask yourself the following questions to ramp up your productivity:

1) What Are My Strengths? – The percentage of time you spend at the intersection of your aptitudes (where you excel) and affinities (where you find enjoyment) will determine your level of success.

2) What Are My Opportunities? – The best opportunities match your strengths. If your ability in an area does not put you in the top 10% of the population, then search for something else to do. People don’t pay for average.

3) Finally, realize that most opportunities don’t immediately bring results. Often, they only lead to additional opportunities. People who think that the first opportunity they encounter will take them to the top usually aren’t very successful. Those who go farthest in leadership are those who work the hardest to seek out and seize opportunities.

 

People Time

While entire books could be written about how to prioritize time with people, let’s focus on the biggest time-eater on a leader’s schedule: meetings. Most meetings are not critically important, and the majority of them are useless. If you’re in a position of leadership, practice the following to avoid getting stuck in meetings or yet worse, conducting useless meetings:

1) Don’t go. – Have someone on the team represent you. Typically, the significant content of an hour-long meeting can be summarized in five minutes.

2) Don’t go alone. – If you must attend, have a teammate accompany you who can take notes, identify action items, and carry the load of responsibility after the meeting.

3) Don’t go to important meetings without having met unofficially with your top influencers beforehand. –  In truth, most decisions get made in informal settings and then merely made official at formal gatherings.

 

A Final Thought to Ponder

A leader’s time follows their priorities. If our priorities are disordered you will most likely mismanage your schedule, your life, your company.

Open-book management July 21, 2014

Posted by TelUS Consulting Services in Social Media.
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The phrase “open-book management” was coined by the writer John Case in a 1989 story for Inc. But the most visible advocate for the concept—sometimes known as the godfather of open-book—is a man named Jack Stack. Stack bought a troubled engine remanufacturing plant in Missouri in 1983 and soon realized it would fail if he didn’t make some radical changes. Case describes the transformation in his book, Open-Book Management:

The only way to survive, Stack decided, was to make sure everyone in the whole plant, all 119 employees, knew exactly how iffy things were. He began distributing the income statements, along with the various operational and budget numbers that made the income move one way or the other. He taught the managers and supervisors how to read the financials. They, in turn, gave an abbreviated course to hourly employees.

Everyone became aware of which departments and processes gained or lost money for the company and how their precise roles contributed to (or detracted from) income. They could see where waste—even small, forgettable kinds of wasteful behavior like frittering away office supplies—hurt the bottom line. Workers didn’t need to quietly speculate about how much money was going to the ownership group, since the numbers were right there.

At the same time, Stack introduced bonuses dependent on moving those numbers. There was an employee stock ownership plan, so everyone had a stake. The entire staff was motivated to work in concert to hit goals, as they would all benefit from the successes.

By 1992, annual revenues at Springfield ReManufacturing Corp. had gone from $16 million to $83 million. The company’s value had grown from $100,000 to $25 million. By 2013, the stock had risen from 10 cents a share to $348, and the original hourly workers owned, on average, stock worth more than $400,000.

The entrepreneurial Stack bottled his insight and labeled his philosophy the “Great Game of Business.” The metaphor refers to the notion that every employee can see the scoreboard (meaning the financial statements), they’re all on the same team, they all benefit from winning, and the process is fun. Stack continues to give lectures based on his story and holds regular conferences for managers and owners who hope to inject these concepts into their own workplaces. In Springfield alone, where SRC’s success was impossible for neighboring organizations to ignore, open-book techniques were adopted by a car dealership, a cleaning service, and even the local police department.

Some owners or managers might be reluctant to share numbers with employees. One concern is that workers might leak information to competitors. But if employees have been sufficiently motivated by equity stakes or bonuses that are entwined with company performance, the last thing they’ll want to do is harm the company by aiding a rival. An employee of Square, the privately held San Francisco–based payments company, tells me that over the multiple years that Square has been sharing financial numbers with its employees, there’s never been a single leak—despite operating within the incestuous, cutthroat realm that is the Bay Area technology sector.

Another worry is that sharing numbers might fuel employee resentment over how budgets are distributed. But according to Case, most low-level workers vastly overestimate how much of their company’s revenue is profit. When they learn how thin the margins truly are, they develop far more respect for attempts to limit needless expenditures. In situations where layoffs become necessary, opening the books can help workers understand why the company was forced to cut jobs. Case credits open-book management for frequently defusing adversarial relationships between labor unions and management. (Sharing information about individual salaries is still very rare, for obvious reasons. But consider: In the wake of the firing of Jill Abramson, executive editor of the New York Times, there were reports that Abramson had battled ownership over getting fair pay in comparison to her predecessor in the job. Salary transparency could put an end to these kinds of conflicts. Still, most open-book firms choose to reveal payroll outlays in the aggregate.)

Perhaps the biggest stumbling block isn’t merely presenting the numbers, but presenting them in a way that’s understandable to all employees. “I still learn new concepts every time I look at our bookkeeping,” says my friend with the industrial plumbing parts company, “and as the president and owner, I expect to have a pretty good handle on it. For an hourly machinist, it might be a challenge. And they might be tempted to say, ‘Why can’t I just do my job?’ ”

But just “doing your job” as a hired hand, with no comprehension or motivation when it comes to how you contribute to the company’s bottom line, is exactly what open-book management seeks to eliminate. It thus becomes vital to teach employees some basic accounting and corporate finance concepts, with regular tutorials, so the numbers getting shared will have real weight and meaning. Open-book companies often end up developing their own educational modules as they figure out ways to make financial statements clear to all sorts of different workers.

Along with transparency and explication, the third leg of the open-book stool is making sure everyone has skin in the game. Knowing the numbers and what they represent only gets you so far. Workers must also be incentivized to move those numbers. But incenting  employees without giving them an idea of the impact they make financially can actually be counter-productive.

Open-book has always been a quirky management choice, rarely adopted by big, mainstream companies. As recently as October, a post in the New York Times’ You’re the Boss blog wondered why more corporations don’t open their books. But the strategy continues to find its adherents.

People say, It wouldn’t work for my business, but I’ve talked to people using it successfully at accounting firms, law firms, marketing agencies, and local governments, along with a lot of industrial companies. To me, it’s the most logical management system there is. Make your employee team a part of your corporations business solution, not just another part of the corporate problem.

 

Joe Buck, NCE

Frontier adds Test-to-Landline service July 16, 2014

Posted by TelUS Consulting Services in CLEC catagory.
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FrontierBusiness customers are the target market for a new service from Frontier Communications that enables text messaging for landline phone numbers.

Text-to-landline
Underlying Frontier’s offering is cloud infrastructure from Zipwhip. To use the service, Frontier customers install software on their personal computer or use a browser interface to compose a message and enter the phone number to which they want to send the message. The message is sent to the Zipwhip cloud, which sends it as a text message to the recipient.

Inbound text messages also go through the Zipwhip cloud, which sends the messages to the business customer’s computer and, if desired, to other devices such as smartphones as well. All messages are stored in the Zipwhip cloud.

Pricing for the service begins at $4.99 a month for 250 monthly text messages when purchased as part of a “qualifying package” or $7.99 when not purchased in a qualifying package. A premium “Enterprise” version of the service includes unlimited texting and other capabilities such as unlimited auto reply, scheduled texting and group texting for $99.99 to $124.99 a month, depending on whether the service is purchased as part of a package. There is also a medium-level offering that sells for $19.99 to $24.99 a month and includes unlimited texting but not some of the other bells and whistles.

The Enterprise offering throttles text messages at a rate of 10 per minute, while the other two offerings throttle messages at a three-per-minute rate.

Frontier Texting is the company’s latest initiative aimed at eking as much value as possible out of its dwindling landline business. Back in May Frontier CEO Maggie Wilderotter said the company was planning a low-cost emergency-only phone service that would provide the capability to dial only 9-1-1 and the phone company over a traditional landline connection. That service aims to ensure that people can reach help even during a power outage.

Interestingly enough tiny CLEC Mosaic Networx has been offering this service for months. The offering allows them to offer text-to-landline on any carriers landline services with a validated LOA (letter of authorization) from the landline owner. It would appear that this offering is getting the attention of the large landline providers. This product could well mark a new way to open the landline market to all providers.

 

Joe Buck, NCE

Smart and strategic aren’t the same July 2, 2014

Posted by TelUS Consulting Services in Job Opportunities.
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Strategy is often seen as something really smart people do — those head-of-the-class folks with top-notch academic credentials. But just because these are the folks attracted to strategy doesn’t mean they will naturally excel at it.

The problem with smart people is that they are used to seeking and finding the right answer. Unfortunately, in strategy there is no single right answer to find. Strategy requires making choices about an uncertain future. It is not possible, no matter how much of the ocean you boil, to discover the one right answer. There isn’t one. In fact, even after the fact, there is no way to determine that one’s strategy choice was “right,” because there is no way to judge the relative quality of any path against all the paths not actually chosen. There are no double-blind experiments in strategy.

To be a great strategist, we have to step back from the need to find a right answer and to get accolades for identifying it. The best strategists aren’t intimidated or paralyzed by uncertainty and ambiguity; they are creative enough to imagine possibilities that may or may not actually exist and are willing to try a course of action knowing full well that it will have to be tweaked or even overhauled entirely as events unfold.

To be a great strategist, we have to step back from the need to find a right answer and to get accolades for identifying it. The best strategists aren’t intimidated or paralyzed by uncertainty and ambiguity; they are creative enough to imagine possibilities that may or may not actually exist and are willing to try a course of action knowing full well that it will have to be tweaked or even overhauled entirely as events unfold.

The essential qualities for this type of person are flexibility, imagination, and resilience. But there is no evidence that these qualities are correlated with pure intelligence. In fact, the late organizational learning scholar Chris Argyris argued the opposite in his classic HBR article Teaching Smart People How to Learn. In his study of strategy consultants, Argyris found that smart people tend to be more brittle. They need both to feel right and to have that correctness be validated by others. When either or both fail to occur, smart people become defensive and rigidly so.

This does not imply that smart people should be kept away from strategy. It does imply however that strategy should not be a monoculture — as it can become in strategy consulting firms — of high-IQ analytical wizards. Great strategy is aided by diversity of thought and attitude. It needs people who have experienced failure as well as success. It needs people who have a great imagination. It needs people who have built their resilience in the past. And most importantly, it needs people who respect one another for their range of qualities, something that is often going to be most difficult for the proverbial smartest person in the room.

Bottom line, smart people surround themselves with themselves, strategic people surround themselves with a smart team effort.

Stop Trying to Make Employees Happy July 1, 2014

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For decades, two common thought processes have influenced management. Managers take a “hard” approach when it comes to addressing challenges − creating new structures, processes, and systems. And they opt for a “soft” approach when they need to boost morale − launching initiatives like off-sites or lunchtime yoga. The problem is that both of these are outdated in an age of mounting complexity.

Stop trying to control people or make them happy; instead, give your employees more autonomy and encourage them to work with each other. Start by understanding what your employees do and why they do it, and foster cooperation by giving people the power and interest to do so. If you increase the total quantity of power (don’t just shift existing power around), create direct feedback loops, and reward those who cooperate, employees will feel liberated and empowered to make critical judgments and to come up with creative solutions to problems.

Adapted from ” Stop Trying to Control People or Make Them Happy” by Yves Morieux and Peter Tollman.

Enhancing E911 services April 16, 2014

Posted by TelUS Consulting Services in VoIP catagory.
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A terrorist attack in New York City’s Times Square is thwarted when street vendors noticed smoke coming from a vehicle in which a homemade bomb had failed to explode. Imagine if those street vendors could have used their cellphones to send pictures or video of the vehicle and its license plate to a 911 call center. What if the 911 center could then push that data to first responders and police to get the location from GIS and buildings visual in the photos?

What Is Next-Generation 911?

Fifty-eight percent of Americans own smartphones and people now routinely send text messages, photos and videos from their mobile devices. And although 75 percent of all calls to 911 are wireless, most 911 centers today are still tethered to the voice-centered world of communications of the last century and are unable to receive text or photos. In fact with cell phone portability E911 centers have difficulty even identifying locations of cell phone users quickly.

The existing 911 system faces difficulties in supporting text or multimedia messaging, according to NENA, and it lacks the capability to interconnect with other systems and databases such as building plans and electronic medical records. The very structure of the current 911 system is rapidly going out of date. It is analog network-based system in a digital world.

There is a movement under way to move to a next-generation 911 (NG911) system based on modern Internet protocol-based networks that take advantage of capabilities such as text and video messaging. And NENA has done years of work on developing the i3 architecture standard that vendors will follow. The intention would be to have interconnected networks. That type of interoperability requires standards. People in public safety also indicated that they wanted more flexible systems not just in terms of multimedia versus voice, but also in terms of their ability to pick different vendors and have them operate together, so they weren’t locked in with just one vendor. Obviously a challenge we have all experienced in the telco environment.

Beyond receiving and sending multimedia, there are other benefits to the proposed new types of networks. Public safety answering points (PSAPs) will be able to transfer calls and activate alternative routing to share the burden during an emergency or when PSAPs are closed by disaster. For instance, during Hurricane Katrina, 38 call centers were disabled and people in those areas were unable to reach 911. In contrast, Vermont has implemented a modern IP-based network linking its eight PSAPs. When Hurricane Irene took one of them offline in 2011, the other seven were able to seamlessly answer calls for that area. The next-generation system promises to allow seamless information sharing between 911 centers, first responders, trauma centers and other emergency response entities. Linked PSAPs will also be able to share resources like GIS databases rather than each having to purchase its own.

What Will it Take to Implement this Next generation Network??

If the benefits of NG911 seem obvious, the transition itself is by no means easy. There are many issues that states and regions must work through relating to technology standards, the process of transition, governance and funding. Creating regional or state networks of previously autonomous 911 authorities raises many issues. Complicating matters is that each state handles 911 differently. Progress is uneven across the country. Some regions, like King County, Wash., have been working on upgrading their emergency call centers with NG911 technology for almost a decade. Yet in many rural parts of the country, very little has been done. There are more than 6,000 PSAPs in the U.S. and they all do things slightly differently. Technology is not really the big issue, it is more the funding, policies and governance. The 911 authorities also have to determine how they will maintain legacy systems while working on new ones. This will certainly not be something we can flash cut-over.

Regions around the country are developing Emergency Services IP networks (ESInets), which are the foundation on which 911 will be built. They are designed to expand mutual aid and allow for the sharing of applications and systems. For instance, they could provide internetwork access to databases such as hazmat information. As an example,  Vermont has made progress on NG911 because it has only eight PSAPs statewide. Rhode Island has just one PSAP for the whole state. It is much easier to control funding and governance in those situations compared to someplace like Texas that has hundreds of PSAPs.

Some states, like Ohio, are planning a common statewide network structure for core functions.  In Washington, where they have deployed the telecom infrastructure for NG911, they have a 48 percent savings in telecommunications cost. So looking at cost is just one side of the coin.

How Soon Will NG911 Become Reality?

Current estimates are that NG911 should be fairly ubiquitous in the U.S. within five years, although there will be outliers that take longer. So what’s the main roadblock?  In some states, 911 is woefully underfunded, and the 911 community has expressed concern that the federal government has not made enough grant funding available for the transition. The federal government has spent just $43 million on grants going back to 2008 for NG911 projects, and so far has designated $115 million (in the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act) for it going forward. There are nearly 250 million 911 calls made each year, and that is the first link to public safety. And to have that first link so critical to the whole chain of events underfunded is very unfortunate.

No one at the local level wants to see the federal government do anything that looks like it’s taking over local provision of 911 service, but the federal government is spending up to $8 billion on the FirstNet network to connect first responder agencies with wireless broadband.

There are great opportunities for collaboration between NG911 and FirstNet . FirstNet is being designed as a wireless broadband network to connect all first responders. NG911 is a new network to connect all 911 systems.

Aside from funding, another hurdle is that legislative changes are needed in most states because the rules governing 911 haven’t been rewritten in 40 years

Government leaders need to treat 911 on par with police, fire and emergency medical services as a critical public safety service. Increasingly consolidated emergency communications centers are operating independently and no longer tethered to police, fire or EMS. But policymakers have to understand their importance. It would appear policy makers still have a ways to go when it comes to understanding societies needs in an increasingly online digital world. Let us all hope that they focus on public safety and temper that with a modest amount of personal privacy concerns.

Joe Buck, NCE

 

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