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Emergency Communications Guidance Documents and Publications

Operational Interoperability Guides

  • National Interoperability Field Operations Guide: The National Interoperability Field Operations Guide (NIFOG) is a collection of technical reference material for radio technicians who are responsible for radios during disaster response and recovery efforts.
  • National Emergency Communications Plan Assessment Guide: The National Emergency Communications Plan (NECP) Assessment Guide provides practical guidance for assessing interoperable communications capabilities. Users may use the guide to identify challenges and successes and to build effective strategies for achieving and sustaining interoperability. This guide is intended for use by Statewide Interoperability Coordinators (SWIC), Urban Area Working Groups, and tribal representatives. Additional information on the NECP can be found at http://www.safecomprogram.gov/natlemergencycommplan.html.
  • Interoperability Continuum: The Continuum breaks down interoperable communications according to five key components: governance, standard operating procedures (SOPs), technology (data and voice), training and exercises, and usage. Emergency response agencies and policy makers are encouraged to use the Continuum to plan and implement interoperability solutions.
  • Communications Interoperability Performance Measurement Guide: Interoperable capabilities have improved in recent years through a multi-dimensional view of the issue, statewide strategic plans across the Nation, and a national plan presenting a practical vision. National goals today target practical outcomes and impacts rather than mere means to these ends. This guide addresses current performance measurement efforts and presents a systematic process to build a performance management framework, apply it, and use results to refine strategy.
  • Interoperability Planning for Wireless Broadband: This document was created in coordination with the emergency response community, to assist SWICs with planning for wireless broadband use in emergency communications.
  • Public Safety Communications Evolution Brochure: This brochure was developed to help educate the public safety community and elected and appointed officials about the future of emergency communications; describe the evolution of emergency communications and how traditional land mobile radio (LMR) communications used today may converge with wireless broadband in the future; and discuss important requirements that must be met to achieve the desired long-term state of convergence.  
  • Creating a Charter for a Multi-Agency Communications Interoperability Committee: This tool provides guidance for developing charter documents for multi-agency communications interoperability committees.  The document is laid out in a recommended Charter structure with suggested headings for each section. Each section poses questions to consider when writing content for a charter. Sample paragraphs are included for your reference.
  • Operational Guide for the Interoperability Continuum:At the Urban Area Summit, held in Washington DC in October 2004, public safety practitioners and leaders from the ten RapidCom urban areas along with key stakeholders from the local, state, and federal levels convened to share best practices, lessons learned, and other experiences gained from planning and implementing communications interoperability solutions. The purpose of this report is to share the valuable information learned from the representatives of the public safety community that participated in RapidCom and to provide a framework for communities and regions to use in their communications interoperability planning efforts.

Grant Guidance and Best Practices

  • Emergency Communications System Life Cycle Planning Guide: OEC collaborated with practitioners to develop the System Life Cycle Planning Guide to assist with efforts to design, implement, support, and maintain a public safety communications system. The guide provides a number of steps and a high-level description of each area of systems life cycle management. The guide is a starting point from which an organization can begin to plan and budget for a public safety system implementation. Additionally, the guide provides information to help educate agency or jurisdictional leadership on the complexity of public safety systems in support of system justifications.
  • Data Messaging Standards Guide for Requests for Proposals:The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) released a Data Messaging Standards Guide for Requests for Proposals (RFPs). Developed with practitioner input, the Guide is intended to assist procurement officials who develop RFPs for emergency response information technology systems. The language provided in the guide requires manufacturers to incorporate Emergency Data Exchange Language (EDXL) messaging standards into their products. EDXL standards enable emergency responders to share critical data—such as a map, a situational report, or an alert—seamlessly across disparate software applications, devices, and systems.  Effective exchange of this type of data is essential during emergency response operations

Governance Systems

  • Establishing Governance to Achieve Statewide Communications Interoperability: A Guide for Statewide Communication Interoperability Plan Implementation: Developed by the OEC, this document provides a methodology to implement Statewide Communication Interoperability Plan (SCIP) strategic initiatives by leveraging collaborative practitioner-driven statewide governance.  The guide promotes a coordinated practitioner-driven approach to ensure comprehensive implementation of communications interoperability strategies outlined within the NECP; each State’s SCIP; and, regional/local strategic planning documents.  In particular, the guide supports NECP Initiative 1.1:  “Facilitate the development of effective governance groups and designated emergency communications leadership roles.”
  • Regional Intrastate Governance Guide for Interoperable Emergency Communications Efforts: Developed with input from stakeholders, this guide explains how to set up regional governance organizations for emergency communications. Regional governance organizations support strong statewide governance and provide a way to unite stakeholder voices and ensure that local concerns are heard and addressed at the state level. Additionally, these organizations can provide a new means for establishing procedures, communicating, and sharing resources within a region.
  • Regional Interoperability Communications Plan: This document offers States guidance on completing the Regional Interoperability Communications Plan (RICP) template and provides further explanation on the types of information contained in each of the sections of the RICP template. It is a companion guide to the RICP template itself, which States can customize prior to sending the RICP template out to its regions for completion. OEC provides States and their regions with a manageable template that can be easily adapted for their specific need.
  • Regional Interoperable Communications Plan Template: The RICP template assists States with regional strategic planning efforts by documenting regional strategies for achieving communications operability and interoperability. SWIC and State Regional Coordinators can adapt and customize this template based on a State’s individual needs. The RICP template uses a standardized format to collect information, ensuring the same information is gathered, leveraged for SCIP updates, and shared with other regions for planning and emergency response purposes. The RICP is designed to align the State and regional communications interoperability plans, objectives, and goals to the NECP.

Writing Guides and Templates

Helpful Resources

  • Communications-Specific Tabletop Exercise Methodology: This guide provides a detailed, systematic approach to effectively plan, conduct, and evaluate an interoperable communications-specific Tabletop Exercise (TTX). These exercises help localities identify interoperability capabilities and gaps within existing processes.
  • OEC Technical Assistance Catalog : OEC regularly updates the Technical Assistance (TA) Catalog as technical service offerings are modified, added or deleted. These TA service offerings, which are provided at no cost, include instruction and assistance with planning, governance, operational, and technical aspects of developing and implementing interoperable communications initiatives. Requesting organizations may combine or tailor many OEC/ICTAP service offerings to meet the specific needs of the organization. This Catalog is also posted at www.publicsafetytools.info. Please submit questions or comments regarding the TA catalog to OEC@hq.dhs.gov.
  • TA Request Form for State/Local/Tribal Agencies: Jurisdictions or organizations can request services from OEC’s TA Program using this form.
  • OEC TA Request Form (DHS Form 9043): An interactive version of the TA Request Form allows for requests to be automatically submitted online to OEC is available at www.publicsafetytools.info. SWICs may fill out the TA Request form and submit it online (Technical Assistance Request Form [Online Form]). SWICs should insert their name, phone number and date in the SWIC signature block and insert the State Administrative Agency's (SAA) official's name and date coordinated in the SAA signature block (an actual signature is not required). Upon receipt of the submission, an email with all information from the completed form will be sent to OEC with a copy to the requestor to verify the submission. As an alternative, SWICs may download the TA Request form in PDF format (Technical Assistance Request Form [PDF]), complete it at their workstation and submit it electronically to TArequest@hq.dhs.gov or faxed to (202) 343-4015.
  • Tactical Interoperable Communications Plan Template: The Tactical Interoperable Communications Plan (TICP) is designed to allow urban areas, counties, regions, states, territories, tribes, or Federal departments and agencies to document interoperable communications governance structures, technology assets, and usage policies and procedures.  The TICP is used to clearly define the breadth and scope of interoperable assets available in the area; how those assets are shared and how their use is prioritized; and the steps individual agencies should follow to request, activate, use, and deactivate each asset.  Completed TICPs were required for all 2005 Urban Area Security Initiative (UASI) sites and are encouraged for newly designated UASI (and non-UASI) cities, counties, multi-county regions, tribes, and states/territories.  The TICP Template provides a description of the standard structure of a TICP and the relevant sections to be populated according to the unique needs of an urban area, county, region, state, territory, tribe, or Federal department and agency. The TICP Template was recently updated and reorganized so that each asset type and its associated standard operating procedure are now in the same section.  Additional updates include:
    • Added mobile communications assets
    • Added a referenced materials appendix
    • Updated and expanded the Incident Command System appendix
    • Replaced the Training section with a Regional Emergency Resource Staffing section
    • Added a section on the Communication Assets Survey and Mapping tool 

Emergency Communications Case Studies

Emergency Communications Fact Sheets

Emergency Communications Forum Newsletter

The Emergency Communications Forum (ECF) provides information about interoperability issues and events. Distributed quarterly, this newsletter includes stories from the field as well as articles reflecting the hottest topics in the emergency response community. To subscribe, please sign up here.

Last Published Date: June 24, 2014
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