The Implementing Recommendations of the 9/11 Commission Act of 2007 (P.L. No. 110-53) authorizes the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Office of Emergency Communications (OEC) to establish the Border Interoperability Demonstration Project (BIDP). BIDP is a $25.5 million one-time, competitive program to provide funding and technical assistance to U.S. communities along the Canadian and Mexican borders. The legislation authorizes DHS to select no fewer than six communities to participate—at least three along the U.S.-Canadian border and at least three along the U.S.-Mexican border.
- What is the purpose of the Border Interoperability Demonstration Project?
The BIDP supports the development of innovative and effective interoperable emergency communications systems and approaches. OEC will work with selected communities to document lessons learned, capture challenges and successes, and share information with the emergency response community throughout the process.
- What are the goals of BIDP?
BIDP is designed to identify innovative and effective solutions to enhance interoperable emergency communications along and across northern and southern U.S. borders. The objective is to implement innovative demonstration projects:
- enhance access to new capabilities,
- integrate with new and existing networks, and
- increase efficiency and cost savings.
- What are the anticipated outcomes of BIDP?
The BIDP projects selected will explore new approaches to solving interoperability problems and strengthening communications operations. They apply innovative models of interoperable emergency communications systems and approaches to real-world conditions. The demonstration projects will involve multiple communities with varying geography and population densities. OEC will work with BIDP award recipients and communities to document lessons learned, capture challenges and successes, and share information with the emergency response community throughout the process. The projects may serve as repeatable models for other border communities to achieve greater communications interoperability with domestic and international agencies.
- How were the communities selected?
BIDP is a competitive grant program. Eligible applicants were State Administrative Agencies (SAAs) of U.S. states bordering Canada and Mexico. Under the law that established BIDP, DHS must select no fewer than six communities to participate—at least three along the U.S.-Canadian border and at least three along the U.S.-Mexican border. BIDP applications were a collaborative effort between states, local and tribal governments and emergency response providers operating within a county or other jurisdiction contiguous to an international border. OEC’s criteria for evaluating project proposals included the results of the DHS’s merit review process (as described in the BIDP Funding Opportunity Announcement), in conformance with overall legislative and programmatic goals, objectives, and priorities.
- Who was part of the selection process?
Under the law that established BIDP, OEC was authorized to conduct this competitive grant. This involved a merit review selection process that included federal, state, and local representatives, including subject matter experts knowledgeable in the field of interoperable emergency communications.
- How does this complement efforts related to the establishment of a nationwide public safety broadband network?
BIDP projects will identify and test new approaches to strengthen emergency communications capabilities, including broadband technologies. Outcomes from these projects will help meet current interoperable needs, and contribute to ongoing efforts to establish a nationwide public safety broadband network. The projects may serve as repeatable models for other border communities to achieve greater communications interoperability with domestic and international agencies.
Border Interoperability Demonstration Project (BIDP) Selected Communities
- Yuma Full Voice and Data Integration Demonstration Project
City of Yuma, Arizona - $3,994,443*
The City of Yuma, in partnership with the Yuma Regional Communications System Council, will implement a demonstration project to provide voice and data communications interoperability across levels of government. The project will further integrate federal, state, and local communications through common voice and data systems, and establish direct connectivity between the Arizona State Emergency Operations Center and the Sonora, Mexico Center for Control, Command, Communications, and Computers via microwave link. Benefits to Yuma area public safety agencies will include improved communications interoperability and the ability to share incident and criminal information with international partners.
- Regional Command and Control Communications Tactical Border Communications Project
San Diego Fire-Rescue, California - $3,852,580*
San Diego Fire-Rescue, in partnership with federal, state, and local agencies in San Diego County, will improve on-site incident management, interoperability, and situational awareness through several network enhancements. The existing 3Cs secure data network delivers critical information to first responder command staff and complements public safety land mobile radio systems by freeing up valuable radio air time. This project will improve the existing 3Cs secure data network by extending capabilities to border security partners, emergency responders, and incident command posts. The project will link and add capacity to existing secure, digital networks that are used by emergency responders across levels of government, including links between U.S. with Mexican partners. San Diego Fire-Rescue will also deploy new wireless broadband technologies to provide voice, video, and data to incident command posts. Specifically, the pilot will be expanded countywide, including the rugged border region of San Diego County.
- Enhanced Communications Infrastructure and Partnerships for Border Security Project
County of Washington, Maine - $3,963,163*
The County of Washington, in partnership with four border counties (Aroostook, Somerset, Franklin, and Oxford) and other tribal and Canadian entities, will implement a demonstration project to enhance emergency communications capabilities along Maine’s 611-mile international border. This project will improve interoperable communications by expanding existing networks and establishing a U.S. – Canadian interoperability channel for use among federal, state, local, tribal, and international partners. The project will also link existing communications tower sites to new towers and county regional communication centers. The communications equipment will use open standards and multimodal, state-of-the-art technology for both voice and data transmission (including Voice over Internet Protocol). The network will effectively eliminate communications “dead zones” in remote areas along Maine’s border with Canada, andenhance the effectiveness of emergency response efforts.
- Southeast Michigan Border Interoperability Solution Project
Wayne County, Michigan - $4,000,000*
Wayne County will lead this project to improve interoperable communications among federal, state, local, tribal, and international partners by providing state-of-the-art, two-way standards based sharing of infrastructure along and across the international border and other ports of entry between Canada, southeastern Michigan, and Sault Ste. Marie. The project partners, including the city of Detroit; Chippewa, Monroe, and Macomb counties; and several Canadian jurisdictions, will establish common governance structures, exercises, training, and operational plans and procedures. The technical approach includes updating Michigan Public Safety Communications System towers, installing Internet Protocol (IP)-based communications in two border tunnels, deploying radio caches, and installing gateway equipment.
- Northern Tier Consortium Border Interoperability Demonstration Project
Interoperability Montana, Montana - $3,895,425*
Interoperability Montana, an intergovernmental association, in partnership with Montana’s Northern Tier Interoperability Consortium, will carry out a project to improve cross-border communications and to increase integrated voice and data coverage. The project will pilot an Automatic Vehicle Location system and include cross-border training and exercises. The project will also pursue an agreement with the Federal Communications Commission and U.S. Department of State to allow Canadian federal, tribal, provincial, and local responders to use Montana’s ‘BLUE’ mutual aid channel for U.S. – Canadian border operations at or within 10 kilometers of the border. Project partners will benefit from expanded radio coverage in remote border areas. Overall, the project will enhance border security, combat crime and drug trafficking, improve response times, and increase the safety of emergency responders.
- Multi-Agency, Multi-Jurisdictional U.S. Regional & International Interoperable Communications Infrastructure and Maritime Domain Awareness Project
Lake County, Ohio - $3,998,200*
The Lake County Emergency Management Agency and Telecommunications Office, in partnership with the Lucas County Sheriff, will lead the Maritime Domain Awareness Project to enhance regional law enforcement efforts to combat national and transnational criminal activity along and across Ohio's international border. The project will upgrade existing infrastructure, vessels, and the maritime central site to provide seamless voice communications and maritime data sharing. These improvements will enable 57 agencies to interconnect independent systems through an Inter Radio Frequency Sub System Interface, resulting in a single communications system throughout Ohio's northern border region. In addition, the project will expand coverage into Michigan and Pennsylvania and will increase Ohio’s ability to track and monitor small, non-commercial vessels.
- Rio Grande Valley Border Interoperability Regional Project
City of McAllen, Texas - $1,940,000*
The City of McAllen, in partnership with the Lower Rio Grande Valley (LRGV) Development Council, will lead a project to improve interoperable emergency communications among federal, state, local, and tribal entities, as well as international partners along and across the Texas-Mexico border. Specifically, the project will enable voice communications interoperability among users operating on multiple regional radio systems along the border, implement a cross-border text alert system, expand the coverage of existing regional radio systems, and increase system capacity. These improvements will be realized across more than 40 jurisdictions. Benefits will include providing real-time, direct communications between domestic and international partners operating in the Lower Rio Grande Valley region, ensuring the ability to support additional radio traffic during significant events along the border, and expanding communications capabilities to low population jurisdictions that are located on the immediate border.
* Estimated funding is subject to change pending final negotiations