The National Emergency Number Association (NENA) has been instrumental in the march toward next-generation 911, an Internet protocol-based system that will let users send photos, video and text messages in addition to traditional voice calls — all greatly enhancing public safety.
The transition is arduous — and without leadership, intelligence and vast ability, the quest wouldn’t be where it is today. Brian Fontes, CEO of NENA, is at the point of this transformation, leading the push toward a much more capable 911 system.
When Fontes was named NENA CEO in 2008, it was considered a coup of great proportions due to his impressive credentials. At the time, he was vice president of federal relations for Cingular Wireless (now AT&T), and he had been both a senior vice president at the Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association and senior adviser to former FCC Commissioner James Quello. Fontes also was appointed by President Bill Clinton to lead the U.S. delegation to the International Telecommunications Union’s World Radio Conference in Geneva.
Fontes now serves on the board of directors of the 911 Institute and the Quello Center for Telecommunication Management, Policy and Law. He also co-chairs the Commerce Department’s Spectrum Management Advisory Committee and serves on the FCC’s Communications Security, Reliability and Interoperability Council.
It is no surprise that under his leadership, 911 centers nationwide are preparing to adapt to Internet protocol-based systems that will revolutionize public safety.
Jim McKay is the editor of Emergency Management magazine. He lives in Orangevale, Calif., with his daughter, Ellie, and son, Ronan. He relaxes by fly fishing on the Truckee River for big, wild trout.