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NIOC Selects Eonti, DigiCert to Operate the PSAP Credentialing Agency

Awards made to Eonti and DigiCert

Monday, May 04, 2020 

The NG9-1-1 Interoperability Oversight Commission (NIOC) announced a request for proposals (RFP) award to tech companies Eonti and DigiCert to operate the Public-Safety Answering Point (PSAP) Credentialing Agency (PCA). This is a key element in building greater trust and interoperability in next-generation 9-1-1 (NG 9-1-1) systems, said the National Emergency Number Association (NENA).

The award is a significant milestone in establishing a public key infrastructure (PKI) for NG 9-1-1, as required by the prevailing standards for NG 9-1-1 and recommended by other leading groups including the FCC Task Force on Optimal PSAP Architecture (TFOPA).

The NIOC is now entering contract deliberations with Eonti and DigiCert, with a goal of entering production of the NG 9-1-1 PKI in 2020. NIOC is the independent oversight body for standards-driven interoperability programs for NG9-1-1. NIOC consists of stakeholders from the public and private sectors that are affected by these programs. iCERT has a Board Seat on the NIOC.

“On behalf of the NIOC commissioners, we all recognize — and are excited for — another monumental step in the evolution of NG 9-1-1,” said NIOC Chair Rick Blackwell, E9-1-1 director for Greenville County, South Carolina. “Having a PSAP Credentialing Authority in place is the culmination of years of hard work by so many at NENA, including the board of directors, staff, Development Steering Council and all the volunteers who contributed to the organization’s working groups.”

NENA staff, in response to broad industry recommendations to establish a PKI for NG 9-1-1, initiated a competitive, sealed-bid RFP to operate the PCA, which is the root of trust for the NG 9-1-1 PKI. To review the responses, NENA assembled a committee of volunteers including public- and private-sector representatives. This committee then reviewed the proposals according to best practices and selected the vendors.

Every PKI requires an independent governance structure. For the NG 9-1-1 PKI, that is NIOC. NIOC was convened in March and began doing official business in April. One of its first orders of business was to review and approve the RFP process executed by NENA and the review committee. NIOC reviewed several hundred pages of documentation, including scoring vendor proposals, the original RFP itself, questions and answers between NENA and vendors and a summary report prepared by NENA staff. NIOC reaffirmed the vendor selection April 15, concluding that NENA and the review committee conducted the procurement appropriately and selected the best available vendor, and NIOC voted to approve an award to Eonti and DigiCert. Additionally, NIOC voted to make this award public information.

A PKI is a system of policies, procedures and technologies to establish a chain of trust among users based on security certificates. This is a common approach used in many critical infrastructure industries. In building a model for a PKI for NG 9-1-1, the NIOC and NENA looked to other telecommunications and public-safety approaches including those taken by the SHAKEN/STIR initiative that combats robocalling, state and federal governments, and local councils of government (COGs).

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