APCO 2023: Second General Business Session

APCO International’s new second vice president is Mark Spross of the Oregon chapter, selected by the assembled membership at the second General Business Session of APCO 2024 held Tuesday in Nashville, Tennessee. Spross won a runoff election with 288 votes against Maureen Will of the Atlantic Chapter with 106 votes. None of the three candidates won a majority in online and live voting this week among Spross, Will and Matthew Franke of the Ohio Chapter, forcing the runoff election.

Spross, executive director of the Marion (Oregon) Area Multi-Agency Emergency Telecommunications (METCOM 911), joins the Executive Committee. He will be sworn in tomorrow as Becky Neugent assumes the presidency, Stephen Martini the vice presidency and Angela Batey becomes immediate past president. Immediate Past President Jason Kern rotates off the Executive Committee.

Before the vote, APCO CEO Derek Poarch delivered the 2023 Annual Association Report, saying the state of the association is “overwhelmingly strong.”

Poarch said the 9-1-1 Staffing Crisis Summit held in May in Herndon, Virginia, was the first of its kind event and attracted 260 people from emergency communications centers across the country. In the wake of the summit, APCO has formed a task force to continue working on the issue and plans to hold another event on the topic next year.

APCO served more than 33,000 students in 2,900 training courses held live and virtually in 2023, Poarch said. Online, recertifications and virtual courses were the top offerings. Among the revised courses that students could take advantage of were Fire Service Communications, 3d Edition; Public Safety Telecommunicator, 18th Edition; and Law Enforcement Communications, 3rd Edition. Courses in development are Communications Center Manager and Intermediate Cybersecurity Principles for the ECC.

The association meanwhile fulfilled its mission to promulgate professional standards for the industry by publishing three ANSI-accredited standards and holding 10 workshops on standards revisions.

The leadership training programs Certified Public-Safety Executive (CPE) and Registered Public-Safety Leader programs continue to thrive. Since its inception, 200 have graduated from the CPE program and 700 have completed the RPL program with 152 students enrolled in 2022-2023, Poarch said.

Poarch called 2023 “a breakout year” for APCO IntelliComm, the software guidecard system, doubling the number of agencies to 210 in development across 43 states. APCO also continues to dominate the market for spectrum management. AFC manages 54% of public safety spectrum management services nationwide.

APCO’s membership grew to 40,375 and currently surpasses all public safety communications associations in the United States.

APCO also continues to work with the NG9-1-1 Coalition, chaired by APCO Executive Director Mel Maier, to push through legislative funding of federal grant programs at the level of $15 billion.

APCO members heard briefings about public safety communications from the Federal Communications Commission represented by David L. Furth, deputy chief, the Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau; and from the Department of Homeland Security represented by Vincent D. DeLaurentis, deputy executive assistant director, Emergency Communications Division.

Furth said his boss, FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel, is advocating on behalf of public safety telecommunicators to change the profession’s occupational classification from administrative to protective.

“In April this year, the chairwoman wrote to the director of OMB to reiterate her position on this issue. The chairwoman offered to assist OMB in its upcoming review of job classifications and noted that many states have recognized the vital first responder role played by telecommunicators,” Furth said.

Furth listed public safety communications initiatives underway by the FCC including proposing rules that “require wireless carriers to support location-based routing of 9-1-1 calls,” and rules to help with the transition to NG9-1-1. For the 4.9 GHz spectrum, the FCC is setting up a national band manager to coordinate the use of the band by non-public safety entities. Furth said the purpose of the new nationwide framework for the spectrum is to ensure that non-public safety remains “secondary to, and preemptible by, public safety operations.”

Furth also said the FCC has adopted outage reporting and notification rules similar to those for 9-1-1 for the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline. The rules were adopted after 988 went dead for several hours in December.

According to DeLaurentis, CISA’s Emergency Communications Division leads the nation’s public safety, national security and emergency preparedness communications efforts.

DeLaurentis said the agency is deploying a Cyber Resilient 9-1-1 acquisition program in response to the greater cyber-exposure caused by the transition to NG9-1-1. The program is designed to provide cybersecurity resources to ECCs.

“At the end of the day, cybersecurity is an increasing threat to our community and something we want to make sure we’re working with all our partners to address,” DeLaurentis said.

DeLaurentis also promoted a SAFECOM Nationwide Survey (SNS). He asked for agencies’ help by providing information about their emergency communication capacity, especially with respect to interoperability. The survey is open through September 29. For more information and to take the survey go to cisa.gov/sns.

By Rick Goldstein