The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Office of Emergency Communications (OEC) Technical Assistance program serves all 56 states and territories and provides direct support to state, local, and tribal emergency responders and government officials through the development and delivery of training, tools, and onsite assistance to advance public safety interoperable communications capabilities.
Technical Assistance Service Offerings
Technical Assistance support covers all five lanes of the SAFECOM Interoperability Continuum, a tool developed by stakeholders and approved by DHS. 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. Technical Assistance service offerings are designed to help emergency responders continue to communicate during disasters or large-scale planned events. These offerings support Statewide Communication Interoperability Plans (SCIPs) and the National Emergency Communications Plan (NECP), the first strategic plan designed to increase interoperability across the nation. OEC has completed over 1,000 Technical Assistance engagements in all 56 states and territories, ranging from Communications Leader Training (COML) to engineering studies of microwave backhaul.
OEC Technical Assistance services fall into the following general categories:
- Standard Operating Procedures & Communications Support
- Communications Unit Training & Support
- Communications Exercise & Operations Support
- Broadband Support to Nationwide Public Safety Broadband Network/FirstNet
- Communications Systems Engineering Support
- Tactical Communications Enhancement Support
- Regional Communications Enhancement Support
- Tribal Nation
- Communications Assets Survey and Mapping (CASM) Tool Support
- Special Offerings
OEC provides a Technical Assistance Catalog of service offerings, and has expanded it as a direct result of stakeholder feedback. The catalog features new and updated offerings to support planning for broadband, radio re-programming for narrowbanding, and workshops for dispatch and mobile communications vehicles operations. To view the catalog, visit https://www.dhs.gov/ictapscip-resources.
Public Safety Tools and Resources
OEC has developed several automated tools and training for emergency communications. The Communications Asset Survey and Mapping (CASM) Tool helps jurisdictions inventory their public safety emergency communications capabilities and assets and enables public safety organizations to share information on communication equipment. OEC also developed the Public Safety Software Tools on the SAFECOM website, which provides additional tools and support to the public safety community, including CASM, the Narrowband License Status Tool, the Response Level Communications Tool, the SWIC Portal, the online NIFOG and various computer based training courses.
Technical Assistance Support for the Nationwide Public Safety Broadband Network
OEC has recently updated the Technical Assistance catalog with a section of offerings specifically focused on assisting states with preparation and planning for deployment of the Nationwide Public Safety Broadband Network (NPSBN). Service offerings in this category will assist state/territory, tribal, regional and urban areas in understanding public safety broadband technology and support their planning for participation in the NPSBN. Since OEC introduced the first broadband Technical Assistance workshop in 2011, FirstNet has continued to identify the requirements and planning necessary for the deployment of the network. To meet the needs identified by FirstNet, OEC now offers eight separate Technical Assistance offerings focused on broadband. These offerings focus on broadband overview and education, governance, planning, and engineering, data collection, mobile data survey and analysis and strategic planning.
How to Request Technical Assistance Offerings
In order to receive Technical Assistance, state and local agencies must coordinate with their Statewide Interoperability Coordinators and obtain approval from the State Administrative Agency. States can submit up to five prioritized requests for services that align with Statewide Communication Interoperability Plan (SCIP) initiatives. At least one request should address an urban area in the state (if applicable). Requests are collected at the beginning of the fiscal year and reviewed by OEC. OEC then approves or denies the request, defers the request for re-consideration during the next service period, or forwards the request for coordination with other OEC resources. Requests are prioritized and analyzed based on the impact of the request on National Emergency Communications Plan and SCIP implementation, prioritization by the state or territory, and availability of subject matter experts.
For additional information on Technical Assistance, contact OEC@dhs.gov