The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Office of Emergency Communications (OEC) supports the advancement of interoperable communications and the adoption of broadband technologies through the development and implementation of strategic planning and national policy and issuance of stakeholder guidance. OEC develops guidance on emergency communications grant programs, oversees the development and implementation of the National Emergency Communications Plan (NECP), establishes criteria for Statewide Communications Interoperability Plans (SCIPs), and develops policy strategies and policy recommendations for the use of land mobile radio (LMR), broadband and other emergency communications technologies by the public safety community. OEC also conducts assessments of the national security and emergency preparedness communications capabilities of federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial public safety agencies.
National Emergency Communications Plan
In 2008, OEC – in coordination with federal, state, local, tribal, territorial, and private sector partners – developed the NECP to serve as the nation's first strategic plan for emergency communications. Since that time, a more complex and interdependent environment has emerged. This includes the utilization of new technologies to communicate and share information during emergencies, such as broadband services, applications, and social media, as well as the modernization of networks, devices, and information systems that support emergency communications. The nation has also adopted more policies that focus on engaging the “whole community” in national preparedness activities.
In 2014, OEC released an updated NECP that incorporates the whole community approach to incident management, focusing on traditional and non-traditional communications methods to better share information and enhance situational awareness. OEC developed the updated NECP in coordination with over 350 federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial partners, as well as private sector stakeholders. The plan provides emergency communications information and guidance, and assists decision makers in setting mission priorities, budgets, and planning for communications technology acquisitions.
Cyber Risk Analysis and Mitigation Planning
Emergency communications increasingly rely on broadband systems and cyber technologies, and this reliance will grow significantly with the emergence of the Nationwide Public Safety Broadband Network (NPSBN). OEC works to identify, assess, and mitigate risks to the security and reliability of these systems and technologies. The Cyber and Physical Threat and Risk Assessment to Improve the NPSBN (CAPTAIN) program focuses on highlighting and addressing risks to the security, resiliency, and interoperability of the NPSBN. The Mobile Applications for Public Safety (MAPS) program seeks to ensure that mobile applications developed for first responders address both mission-critical needs and security concerns.
Statewide Planning and Guidance
OEC provides the emergency response community with guidance tools and other publications to improve interoperable communications. This includes working with all sand territories to update and implement the Statewide Communication Interoperability Plans (SCIPs), which are locally-driven, multi-jurisdictional, and multi-disciplinary statewide plans to enhance emergency communications. In addition, OEC publishes guides and other tools in support of SCIPs and the NECP.
- Statewide Communications Interoperability Plans
- National Interoperability Field Operations Guide
- Guidance Documents and Publications
Emergency Communications Grants Policies and Programs
Interoperable communications programs encompass a wide range of activities—purchasing new equipment, hosting state meetings, and conducting training—that require significant funding. OEC supports the coordination of grant guidance across the federal government through development of the SAFECOM Grant Guidance on Emergency Communications Grants and support of the Emergency Communications Preparedness Center Grants Focus Group. OEC serves as the program office for the Border Interoperability Demonstration Project.