Transform911 —an initiative led by the University of Chicago Health Lab at the Harris School of Public Policy to rethink the nation’s emergency response system— released a comprehensive policy blueprint to modernize and strengthen America’s 911 system and change behaviors of those who both implement and rely upon it. The event took place in New Orleans, Louisiana, and included speakers such as Katherine Baicker, dean and Emmett Dedmon Professor at Harris, and elected officials and law enforcement officials from across the country.
Developing the recommendations—which were open to public input—represents the culmination of more than 18 months of work that involved more than 100 experts in law enforcement, public health, emergency response, government, technology, justice, academia, and philanthropy.
The nation’s 54-year-old 911 system currently functions through a patchwork of thousands of locally operated emergency communications centers, with oversight and support split across a maze of federal, state, and local agencies. Experts say the lack of common standards for workforce training and support, data collection and reporting, and technology interoperability—combined with the lack of federal funding to address these challenges—means that while reliance on 911 is constant across America, the response is highly variable.
This story was first published by the Harris School of Public Policy.