Mobile Applications for Public Safety

Mobile Applications for Public Safety

The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency's  Emergency Communications Division (ECD) is committed to informing the development and distribution of mobile applications for first responders. ECD established the Mobile Applications for Public Safety (MAPS) project to promote consistent security, functionality and performance best practices in the development and adoption of mobile apps. The reliable operational capability provided by secure mobile apps is a vital component of the Department’s vision for comprehensive communications architecture for public safety.

The use of commercially available mobile applications (apps) by first responders and the public safety community has dramatically increased in recent years. Software developers have recognized this emerging market and have begun producing apps for this unique group. First responders are adopting many of these products on either government-funded equipment or on their individual personal devices and may be exposing themselves to performance, function, and security risks. ECD is leading these efforts because the potential vulnerabilities, and consequences associated with apps are significant.  

The Project

The MAPS project provides policy oversight for the public safety mobile ecosystem. MAPS collaborates with interagency partners, the private sector, public safety groups, professionals, and academia to:

  • Promote the security, functionality and performance requirements of mobile apps for public safety;
  • Advocate for public safety mission needs in the mobile environment;
  • Enable and streamline the development, discovery and distribution of mobile applications for first responders.

MAPS opens a next-generation public safety mobile applications market space to a larger developer audience, focusing efforts on public safety needs. For more information, contact the project office at DHS_MAPS@hq.dhs.gov.

Policy Guidance

MAPS collaborates with various industry, academic and government organizations to inform and support best practices for the public safety mobile environment. Our activities include security architecture input, requirements generation, educational materials, and stakeholder engagements. MAPS also participates in policy, legal and security working sessions and documentation efforts. Additionally, MAPS provides visibility into the broader network of individuals and companies expanding the public safety mobile applications marketplace. For more information, contact DHS_MAPS@hq.dhs.gov.

Developer Guidance

The MAPS project increases production of quality mobile applications tailored towards public safety and significantly reduces cost through early intervention. Early involvement of public safety personnel in the development lifecycle of mobile applications allows them to articulate their needs and clearly define operational environments with first-hand experience, avoiding costly redevelopment. Using recommendations of the MAPS project can improve mobile application functionality, enhance cybersecurity, promote appropriate information access, and encourage optimized network capacity use.

As part of the MAPS effort, DHS established the First Responder Mobile Application Development Best Practices Guide, which provides assistance to developers in understanding the public safety market. The Guide was developed in conjunction with mobile application developers, public safety personnel, and commercially-available best practices.

The Guide:

  • Educates developers on the operational environments of first responders
  • Introduces developers to the challenges faced by personnel in each of the public safety disciplines
  • Promotes the security, functionality and performance requirements of public safety
  • Provides recommendations for enhancing apps specifically for public safety, including resources for further research

For a copy of the First Responder Mobile Application Development Best Practices Guide, click on the image below:

First responder mobile application development: Best Practices Guide December 2014

Public Safety Guidance

MAPS provides public safety personnel opportunities for education on mobile applications, guidance on the adoption of apps into operations, and engagement in the development of public safety applications. The Mobile Device Adoption Best Practices Guide and Mobile Application Adoption Best Practices Guide are designed specifically for first responders using, or considering use of, mobile devices and applications and should be used in conjunction with any policies that organizations may have already established.  The Guides were developed in conjunction with mobile application developers, public safety personnel, and commercially-available best practices.

Mobile Application Adoption Best Practices

  • Reviews risks associated with mobile applications
  • Encourages users to work with their command staff/IT support to ensure secure adoption
  • Provides guidance on the selection and use of any mobile application

Mobile Device Adoption Best Practices

  • Reviews risks associated with mobile devices
  • Encourages users to work with their command staff/IT support to ensure secure adoption
  • Promotes fundamental security practices (For example: use of a PIN and avoiding unfamiliar networks)

 To understand more about the challenges and benefits of adopting mobile applications as a first responder, contact DHS_MAPS@hq.dhs.gov.

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