Resources for Your NG9-1-1 RFP

Posted on Sep 22, 2020

So, you are getting ready to write an RFP – raise your hand if you are excited! OK, OK, we know it is not the most fun thing you will ever do. However, you are embarking on an incredibly important process that should signal the start of a great conversation. An RFP done right sets the stage for a beautiful relationship with the perfect partner for your agency and community.**

But it is a challenging process, no doubt. You are creating the RFP because you need to figure out how to solve a problem. But since you are not necessarily the person who would solve it, how do you ensure you get it right?**

An excellent place to start is deciding what a perfect world looks like for your agency. How does the desired solution change things for your operations, your people, and your community? And how fast do you want it? Looking at it through this lens allows you to review your agency’s goals for getting to true Next Generation 9-1-1, your current state of Next Generation 9-1-1 maturity, and if you are legislatively ready to make the change.

Considerations for your RFP

How do you want to proceed with your Next Generation 9-1-1 system?

  1. Continue with the current solution while evaluating other options.
  2. Migrate to a transition IP network that will support the legacy system and multimedia communications. However, you must wait for a CHE/CPE upgrade to enjoy the benefits of multimedia.
  3. Upgrade call handling equipment to support multimedia communications in preparation for network replacement. This, too, is incremental but will give you the ability to use over the top solutions integrated in CHE or CAD. However, without a network that is upgraded, your call routing is unaffected. You are still tied to the selective router and limited in your call transfer capabilities.
  4. Replace the existing network with an end-state, i3 compliant interoperable solution.

The advantage of waiting, of course, is that it gives you time to make decisions. However, this can cause more headaches due to maintenance costs and network unreliability. At the other end of the spectrum is to replace the existing network with an end-state, i3 compliant interoperable solution.

The upside to full replacement is that you get all the benefits of Next Generation 9-1-1 at once. The downside, of course, is that it is a significant change all at once, which can feel overwhelming. However, the reality is that change has that impact, no matter the course of action. This is why it is so important to have the right partner in place to help you bring your vision to life. They can offer support with proper planning, implementation, and training that enables you to concentrate on your other priorities.

While we are on the subject, it is essential you get a fully i3 compliant end-state solution to unlock all the benefits that Next Generation 9-1-1 promises. One thing we heard communicated in a recent presentation was this lesson learned à Communicate early and often that you are committed to i3 to ensure your providers stay on track!

We couldn’t agree more. Transparency is the foundation of everything we do. We have spent countless hours working directly with our customers to ensure they get exactly what they need for the community that they serve. Here are some sample questions that we have seen in the RFP process:

  • Is handset-based location of mobile callers with direct routing to the 9-1-1 call taker provided and demonstrable today?
  • Is location accuracy for all mobile devices incorporated, including things like Life Alert or Onstar?
  • Is there accessibility for the deaf and hearing impaired community through RTT?
  • Is Multimedia (text/images/video) available today?
  • Can you conduct interoperability testing to determine the readiness to comply with the multimedia, security, and other essential requirements of i3 compliance?
  • What are the physical requirements in the backroom for equipment to support the solution – or where will the solution live? On-prem, hybrid, or in the cloud?
  • Where are the core services provisioned? How many data centers or availability zones? How many instances of the Core Services? Are they NENA compliant active-active instead of active- failover?
  • Can the respondent Service Level Agreement (SLA) maintain 99.999% availability for all Core Services?
  • What are the scalability parameters for expansion during high load events?
  • Is it easy to provision a virtual PSAP?
  • Is there a user-friendly customer portal for managing all trouble tickets and billing activity? Can this portal, or a separate portal, provide real-time visibility into the portion of the provider’s network serving the County?
  • What is the track record for the time it takes to go live?

This list is just the tip of the iceberg, and by no means exhaustive. Hopefully, it helps you round out your considerations as you approach the RFP process.

Additional Resources

NENA has a wealth of knowledge for technical standards and a guide for RFPs. has a ton of resources. The NG9-1-1 Assessment tool helps you gauge your current level of maturity. There is also a resource page for NG9-1-1 legislative readiness.

APCO is also a great source of information. They provide a sample RFP as well.

In addition to RFPs, there are other ways to review solutions, such as a purchasing vehicle like MiCTA. Some of the many benefits of MiCTA membership are time savings in the RFP process, competitive costs, flexibility, and the confidence of knowing that you are in a group of highly skilled providers – like NGA 911. (Sorry, shameless plug!)

We hope you find this info helpful. At the very least, we hope it gets you one step closer to finding the best relationship for your agency and community needs. If you have any additional questions or comments, please let us know! It is our pleasure to assist.