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Emergency Communications Guidance Documents and Publications

Operational Interoperability Guides

  • 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. (PDF, 5 pages – 1.39 MB)
  • Interoperable Communications for Planned Events: This tool outlines a comprehensive process to ensure successful communications during planned events. (PDF, 28 pages – 1.37 MB)
  • National Interoperability Field Operations Guide (NIFOG): One of OEC’s most popular documents, the NIFOG is a collection of technical reference material for radio technicians who are responsible for radios that will be used in disaster responses.
  • National Emergency Communications Plan Capabilities Guide: This document 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, Urban Area Working Groups, and tribal representatives. (PDF, 18 pages – 1.77 MB)
  • A Practical Guide to Narrowbanding: This guide provides best practices to help emergency responders comply with the Federal Communications Commission narrowbanding mandate. The guide lays out a step-by-step approach for narrowbanding communications equipment and licenses. Five state case studies from California, Massachusetts, Missouri, Nevada, and Virginia illustrate common narrowbanding challenges and their solutions. (PDF, 38 pages – 2.28 MB)
  • 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 step-by-step process to build a performance management framework, apply it, and use results to refine strategy. (PDF, 55 pages –3.71 MB)

Procuring Funding

  • Emergency Communications System Life Cycle Planning Guide: OEC developed, with practitioner input, this System Life Cycle Planning Guide to assist you in your efforts to design, implement, support, and maintain a public safety communications system. The guide walks you through a number of steps and provides a high-level description of each area to help you fully engage in successful systems life cycle management. The guide is a starting point from which your organization can begin to plan and budget for a public safety system's implementation. Additionally, the guide provides information to help you educate agency or jurisdictional leadership on the complexity of public safety systems in support of your system justification. (PDF, 39 pages - 2.06MB)
  • Interoperability Business Case: An Introduction to Ongoing Local Funding: This document helps officials make the case for ongoing local interoperability funding. The document suggests informative arguments for why interoperability is essential and outlines steps for creating an interoperability-based project plan. (PDF, 8 pages – 1.91MB)

Governance Systems

  • Establishing Governance to Achieve Statewide Communications Interoperability: This document demonstrates how to implement Statewide Communication Interoperability Plan initiatives by leveraging a collaborative statewide governance system. The guide presents operations, roles, and responsibilities for various governing bodies charged with improving statewide communications interoperability. (PDF, 92 pages – 4.69 MB)
  • 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. (PDF, 61 pages – 2.61 MB)
  • Regional Interoperability Communications Plan: This document offers States guidance on completing the 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 can be customized by States prior to sending the RICP template out to its regions for completion. It is the intent of OEC to provide States and their regions with a manageable template that can be easily adapted for their specific need. (PDF, 24 pages - 1.28 MB)
  • 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. Statewide Interoperability Coordinators and State Regional Coordinators can adapt and customize this template based on a StateÕs individual needs. The RICP template uses a standardized format to collect information, ensuring the same information is gathered, leveraged for Statewide Communication Interoperability Plan 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 National Emergency Communications Plan. (DOC, 49 pages - 450 KB)
  • The System of Systems Approach for Interoperable Communications: This brochure helps the emergency response community as well as policy makers understand the system of systems concept, the benefits of applying this concept, and how it can aid agencies in achieving interoperability. (PDF, 12 pages – 5.48 MB)

Plain Language

  • Plain Language Guide: This brochure helps emergency response agencies transition from the use of 10-codes to plain language. It demonstrates the value in using plain language and documents the effort, resources, and key actions required to implement plain language. (PDF, 12 pages – 6.71 MB)
  • Plain Language Frequently Asked Questions: These FAQs provide support to agencies transitioning, or planning to transition to plain language. The document includes the results of independent research as well as specific examples of lessons learned and smart practices from stakeholders who have implemented plain language. (PDF, 19 pages – 3.22 MB)

Writing Guides and Templates

Helpful Resources

  • Communications-Specific Tabletop Exercise (TTX) Methodology: This guide provides a detailed, step-by-step approach to effectively plan, conduct, and evaluate an interoperable communications-specific TTX. These exercises help localities identify interoperability capabilities and gaps within existing processes. (PDF, 110 pages – 3.06 MB)
  • Improving Interoperability through Shared Channels – Version 2: This document assists in understanding the level of effort, resources, and key actions needed to implement a shared channels solution. (PDF, 44 pages – 1.71 MB)
  • Technical Assistance Catalog : The Catalog describes the services available to requesting jurisdictions or organizations through OEC’s Technical Assistance Program. These services, which are provided at no cost, include instruction and assistance with the planning, governance, operational, and technical aspects of developing and implementing interoperable communications initiatives. (PDF, 84 pages – 2.6 MB)
  • Technical Assistance Request Form for State/Local/Tribal Agencies : Jurisdictions or organizations can request services from OEC’s Technical Assistance Program using this form. (PDF, 4 pages – 426 KB)

Emergency Communications Case Studies


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