The Implementing Recommendations of the 9/11 Commission Act of 2007 (P.L. No. 110-53) authorized the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Office of Emergency Communications (OEC) to establish the Border Interoperability Demonstration Project (BIDP), 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.
OEC selected seven projects involving multiple communities with varying geography and population densities. The selected projects tested approaches that involved new technology or an innovative approach to governance, planning, coordination, training, and exercises. The projects serve as repeatable models for other border communities to achieve greater communications interoperability with domestic and international agencies. OEC worked 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.
For more information please see the BIDP Fact Sheet.
OEC’s criteria for evaluating project proposals included the results of DHS’s merit review process in conformance with overall legislative and programmatic BIDP goals, objectives, and priorities. The selected projects are described below.
Border Interoperability Demonstration Project Selected Communities
- City of Yuma, Arizona — $3,994,443 for the Yuma Full Voice and Data Integration Demonstration Project.
- San Diego Fire-Rescue, California — $3,852,580 for the Regional Command and Control Communications Tactical Border Communications Project.
- County of Washington, Maine — $3,963,163 for the Enhanced Communications Infrastructure and Partnerships for Border Security Project.
- Wayne County, Michigan — $4,000,000 for the Southeast Michigan Border Interoperability Solution Project.
- Flathead County, Montana — $3,895,425 for the Northern Tier Consortium Border Interoperability Demonstration Project.
- Lake County, Ohio — $3,998,200 for the Multi-Agency, Multi-Jurisdictional U.S. Regional & International Interoperable Communications Infrastructure and Maritime Domain Awareness Project.
- City of McAllen, Texas — $1,940,000 for the Rio Grande Valley Border Interoperability Regional Project.
Closeout Report and Knowledge Transfer Studies
While the grant program has closed, OEC remains focused on transferring BIDP information and knowledge to all border communities and other interested parties. OEC has transitioned its BIDP Program Office to support the development of tools, templates, and studies to benefit emergency responders operating along and across U.S. borders.
The BIDP Closeout Report provides an overview of the program, lessons learned, and recommendations. This report includes individual grantee reports on the seven selected communities, detailing project outcomes, technical assistance, and partnerships. In addition, OEC developed knowledge transfer studies containing best practices and processes successfully demonstrated by BIDP award recipients. With these studies, public safety agencies can better address common obstacles to implementing interoperability channels to support border-region communications. Furthermore, rural and urban border communities can benefit from reviewing the experiences and lessons learned from those BIDP recipients that share similar geographies, operating environments, or population densities.
- BIDP Closeout Report (PDF, 48 pages – 2 MB)
- BIDP Study on Implementing Interoperability Channels along and across the United States–Canadian Border (PDF, 15 pages – 1.08 MB)
- Examines Montana’s BIDP project to expand use of a national interoperability channel, VLAW31, by additional public safety officials spread across parts of the northern border. The study includes a five-step process intended to guide other communities in implementing shared interoperability channels.
- BIDP Study on Rural and Urban Area Interoperability Solutions along and across International Borders (PDF, 15 pages – 605 KB)
- Examines similarities and differences in rural and urban areas, using the Interoperability Continuum as a framework. The study is intended for other border communities to consider BIDP best practices, example solutions, and key rural/urban takeaways that may be applicable in their community.
- BIDP Study on Environmental Planning and Historic Preservation (EHP) Compliance along the Border (PDF, 34 pages - 1.19MB)
- Identifies domestic and international EHP requirements that may be applicable in border areas. The study includes a five-step process for obtaining EHP compliance, including resources and examples to assist public safety agencies successfully navigate EHP reviews.
- BIDP Study on Implementing Advanced and Emerging Technologies along and across International Borders (PDF, 9 pages - 611 KB)
- Examines San Diego, California's project to add capacity and capabilities to its regional communications network. The study discusses common challenges (e.g., human factors, data security) and emphasizes the non-technical steps that are often overlooked when deploying advanced and emerging technologies. The study includes a five-step process intended to guide other communities in implementing advanced and emerging technologies along and across the border.
OEC will continue to develop tools and templates based on BIDP results, and continue sponsoring border-focused working groups (Canada–United States Communications Interoperability Working Group, and Southwest Border Communications Working Group) to assist border communities.
1. What was the purpose of the Border Interoperability Demonstration Project?
BIDP supported the development of innovative and effective interoperable emergency communications systems and approaches. OEC worked with selected communities to document lessons learned, capture challenges and successes, and share information with the emergency response community throughout the process.
2. What were the goals of BIDP?
BIDP was designed to identify innovative and effective solutions to enhance interoperable emergency communications along and across northern and southern U.S. borders. The objective was to implement innovative demonstration projects in order to:
a. enhance access to new capabilities,
b. integrate with new and existing networks, and
c. increase efficiency and cost savings.
Results and lessons learned will be shared with other border communities and applied on a nationwide scale. The projects serve as repeatable models for other border communities to achieve greater communications interoperability with domestic and international agencies.
3. What were the outcomes of BIDP?
The selected BIDP projects explored new approaches to solving interoperability problems and strengthening communications operations. They applied innovative models of interoperable emergency communications systems and approaches to real-world conditions. The demonstration projects involved multiple communities with varying geography and population densities. OEC continues to work with BIDP award recipients and communities to document lessons learned, capture challenges and successes, and share information with the emergency response community. The projects can serve as repeatable models for other border communities to achieve greater communications interoperability with domestic and international agencies.
4. How were the communities selected?
BIDP was a competitive grant program, and eligible applicants were State Administrative Agencies (SAAs) of U.S. states bordering Canada and Mexico. Under the law that established BIDP, DHS had 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. 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 DHS’s merit review process (as described in the BIDP Funding Opportunity Announcement), in conformance with overall legislative and programmatic goals, objectives, and priorities.
5. 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.
6. How did BIDP complement efforts related to the establishment of a nationwide public safety broadband network?
BIDP projects identified and tested 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, Arizona, in partnership with the Yuma Regional Communications System Council, implemented a project to provide voice and data communications interoperability across all levels of government. The Border Interoperability Demonstration Project (BIDP) further integrated federal, state, local, and tribal communications through common voice and data systems, and installed equipment to provide future international connectivity between the Arizona State Emergency Operations Center and the Sonora, Mexico Center for Control, Command, Communications, and Computers. Benefits to Yuma area public safety agencies include improved interoperable communications and the ability to share incident situation and criminal records information.
- Regional Command and Control Communications Tactical Border Communications Project
San Diego Fire-Rescue, California - $3,852,580
California’s sub-recipient, San Diego Fire-Rescue, in partnership with federal, state, and local agencies in San Diego County, improved on-site incident management, interoperability, and situational awareness through several network enhancements. The existing Regional 3Cs secure data network delivers critical information to first responder command staff and complements public safety land mobile radio (LMR) systems by freeing up valuable radio air time. The Border Interoperability Demonstration Project (BIDP) improved the Regional 3Cs network by extending capabilities to federal border security partners and incident command posts. The project added capacity to digital networks that are used by emergency responders across levels of government, including links between U.S. with Mexican partners. It also deployed new wireless broadband technologies to provide voice, video, and data to incident command posts. Emergency responders now have access to communications capabilities countywide, including the rugged border region.
- Enhanced Communications Infrastructure and Partnerships for Border Security Project
County of Washington, Maine - $3,963,163
The County of Washington, Maine, in coordination with three neighboring counties and other federal, state, local, tribal, and international public safety agencies, improved cooperation and provided critical communications along and across the U.S.–Canadian border. Through the Border Interoperability Demonstration Project (BIDP), Maine addressed significant coverage and capability gaps in multiple regions by building and leasing communications towers, programming a designated interoperability channel into emergency responders’ radios, and deploying mobile and portable radio caches. Maine’s most impactful project aspect was the formalization of mutual aid agreements, shared standard operating procedures, and overall collaborative planning across both domestic and international partners.
- Southeast Michigan Border Interoperability Solution Project
Wayne County, Michigan - $4,000,000
Wayne County, in partnership with federal, state, local, and international agencies, improved interoperable communications by addressing several issues. Previous communications challenges in the southern Detroit River area included inadequate radio system coverage, a lack of standard operating procedures (SOP), and limited interoperability channels or talkgroups. Through the Border Interoperability Demonstration Project (BIDP), Michigan built and upgraded communications infrastructure, collaborated extensively with U.S. and Canadian counterparts on cross border protocols and mutual aid agreements, and deployed radio caches and designated talkgroups for interoperability. Emergency responders now have access to communications capabilities along and across the Detroit, Michigan, border region.
- Northern Tier Consortium Border Interoperability Demonstration Project
Flathead County, Montana - $3,895,425
Montana, in partnership with federal, state, local, tribal, and international public safety agencies, led a project to improve interoperable emergency communications and cooperation along the U.S.–Canadian border. Through the Border Interoperability Demonstration Project (BIDP), Montana addressed several communication gaps that previously existed. To address the lack of a shared radio frequency for use along and across the border, Montana expanded a designated interoperability channel to allow direct communications, regardless of jurisdiction, responder discipline, level of government, or country. The project also enhanced data capabilities for mobile units to provide service to vast rural border areas. Finally, Montana established a cooperative framework between domestic and international public safety agencies, allowing for effective collaboration and shared use of resources.
- Multi-Agency, Multi-Jurisdictional U.S. Regional & International Interoperable Communications Infrastructure and Maritime Domain Awareness Project
Lake County, Ohio - $3,998,200
Lake County, Ohio, in partnership with federal, state, and local public safety agencies and other institutions, improved cross border communications and cooperation while providing critical data services to neighboring states and Canadian counterparts. Through the Border Interoperability Demonstration Project (BIDP), Ohio addressed communications gaps by upgrading infrastructure, adding channels, and consolidating four disparate radio systems into one interoperable, standards-based voice and data network. Ohio also purchased and distributed 300 portable radios to 23 local law enforcement agencies. In addition, Ohio implemented a Vessel Tracking System (VTS) to improve maritime awareness in surrounding bodies of water, particularly for tracking and preventing transnational threats such as drug and human trafficking. As a result, these improvements have led to 98 percent portable radio coverage along Ohio’s international border.
- 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 Development Council, led a project to improve interoperable emergency communications among federal, state, and local partners along the U.S.–Mexico border. Specifically, the Border Interoperability Demonstration Project (BIDP) enabled interoperability among users on multiple radio systems, implemented a cross border text alert system, and expanded the coverage and capacity of the Rio Grande Valley Communications Groups Project 25 Regional Radio System (RGVCGRRS). These improvements impacted more than 40 jurisdictions that now benefit from real-time, direct communications between domestic and international partners operating in the Lower Rio Grande Valley region.
* Estimated funding is subject to change pending final negotiations
For specific questions, e-mail BIDP@hq.dhs.gov.