Blog

CISA Supports Public Safety’s Transition to NG911

July 10, 2019
8:43 am

Author: Ken Bradley, CISA External Affairs

On June 14 -18, 2019, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) engaged the 9-1-1 community at the National Association of State 9-1-1 Administrators (NASNA) meeting and the National Emergency Number Association (NENA) Conference in Orlando, FL. 

During the June 15, 2019 NASNA meeting, Assistant Director for Emergency Communications, Ron Hewitt,  briefed State 9-1-1 Administrators on the CISA organization, provided updates on the SAFECOM and National Council of Statewide Interoperability Coordinators (NCSWIC) Next Generation 911 (NG911) Maturity State Self-Assessment Tool, highlighted emergency communications governance initiatives, and discussed the 2019 National Emergency Communications Plan release.

“The frequency and complexity of emergencies are on the rise during a time when technology is advancing at a faster pace than any other time in history,” Hewitt said.  “As technology advances, communications capabilities available to emergency responders—voice, video, and data— will transform the emergency communications landscape, providing greater situational awareness to dispatchers and emergency responders.  To prepare 9-1-1 public safety stakeholders for these rapid technology advances, CISA is committed to delivering products and services to support the flow of secure and seamless information.”

During the NENA Conference, CISA engaged with stakeholders in the Exhibit Hall and participated on three panel presentations with SAFECOM, NCSWIC, NASNA, and federal public safety partners from the National 911 Program. 

During the first panel, Are You NG-Ready? CISA’s Gerald “Jerry” Jaskulski, was joined by SAFECOM member Stephen Verbil, State of Connecticut Emergency Telecommunications Manager, California SWIC Budge Currier, from the California Office of Emergency Services, and Laurie Flaherty, U.S. Department of Transportation, National 911 Program.  The panelists discussed the NG911 Maturity State Self-Assessment Tool developed by the SAFECOM NCSWIC NG911 Working Group and provided a video demonstration for the session’s attendees. 

The Working Group, building on the work of the Federal Communications Commission’s Task Force on Optimal Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP) Architecture, believe that public safety administrators and practitioners would benefit from more in-depth insight into their own efforts to assist PSAPs in the transition to NG911.  The Tool provides 911 authority stakeholders with a more granular understanding of the essential NG911 system and will allow PSAPs to better plan their NG911 transition action steps. 

The Tool was designed to assist PSAP administrators in assessing their progress toward migration to NG911 and to identify gaps in their planning efforts.  Other benefits include identifying unmet needs and justifying additional investments.  The results can be used to help educate elected officials and policy makers about NG911 and how to achieve successful migration to the capabilities it will provide.  The working group is currently seeking volunteers to pilot the Tool and those interested should contact: ng911wg@hq.dhs.gov.

On Tuesday, June 18, 2019, Jerry Jaskulski participated on two additional panel presentations, the first on Nationally-Uniform Data: Improving the 9-1-1 Data Set, which covered the challenges in comparing 911 data at the state and sub-state levels. The panel provided an overview of the National 911 Program’s 911 Data and Information Sharing Strategic Plan that was recently released.  The Strategic Plan is intended to provide a framework for standardizing 911 data and use.  The panel discussed how stakeholders can use the Plan as a model for collecting 911 data to inform decision-making, which would help:

  • Administrators improve planning
  • Public safety agencies gain situational awareness
  • Federal agencies make better programmatic support decisions
  • States allocate funds more accurately to match needs
  • Local agencies define and identify infrastructure improvements.

The final panel, NG911 Migration Resources: Are you Ready?, highlighted resources and products available to agency leaders that contain lessons learned and models for transitioning to NG911.  During this session Jerry Jaskulski provide an update on the SAFECOM NCSWIC NG911 Working Group’s NG911 Maturity State Self-Assessment Tool and covered other products the working group created including the Cyber Risks to Next Generation 911 document. 

The NASNA meeting and NENA Conference were a great success for CISA in providing the 911 community with updates on how the Agency is working to support public safety. By sponsoring the SAFECOM NCSWIC NG911 Working Group that is creating products, having PSAPs volunteer to pilot the NG911 Maturity State Self-Assessment Tool, and engaging Federal stakeholders that own and / or operate PSAP facilities, the communications ecosystem stakeholders have reaffirmed their commitment to collaborate with CISA and improve interoperable communications.

ISSI and CSSI Implementation Guidance

May 22, 2019
1:33 pm

Author: Jim Downes, Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA)

The Federal Partnership for Interoperable Communications (FPIC), in conjunction with SAFECOM and the National Council of Statewide Coordinators (NCSWIC), has published a guidance document for the emergency communications user community concerning implementation of Project25 (P25) Inter-RF Subsystem Interface (ISSI) and Console Subsystem Interface (CSSI) technologies.

As the public safety community continues to recognize the importance of land mobile radio (LMR) operability and interoperability, interest in ISSI and CSSI technology has increased. Given this heightened interest in both technologies, the FPIC developed an ISSI/CSSI User Focus Group to:

  • Explore the ISSI/CSSI technology offerings;
  • Document successful deployments, existing challenges, and impediments to deployments;
  • Illustrate the complexities of ISSI/CSSI implementations; and
  • Identify actionable solutions for addressing implementation challenges.

The ISSI/CSSI User Focus Group developed the Best Practices for Planning and Implementation of P25 Inter-RF Subsystem Interface (ISSI) and Console Subsystem Interface (CSSI): Volume I to address pre-planning, partnerships, and governance practices that are essential for planning an ISSI and/or CSSI implementation. The document—which is the first in a series of “best practices” documents—includes a one-page “Best Practices Checklist,” incorporating important steps such as developing a thorough understanding of what ISSI- and CSSI-enabled systems can and cannot do, and coordinating ISSI governance with existing systems management and governance. Volume 1 also details benefits of interoperability enhancements and the potential for infrastructure sharing through an ISSI/CSSI for those agencies interested in implementing either or both technologies.

The best practices contained in Volume 1 are an extensive collaborative effort of the FPIC ISSI/CSSI User Focus Group, which primarily consists of non-federal (state and local) public safety entities. The Joint SAFECOM-NCSWIC Technology Policy Committee also reviewed and approved the document prior to approval by the SAFECOM and NCSWIC Executives Committees (ECs).

The Best Practices for Planning and Implementation of P25 Inter-RF Subsystem Interface (ISSI) and Console Subsystem Interface (CSSI): Volume I document is available at www.dhs.gov/technology. For those interested in learning more about ISSI and CSSI implementation, or for those interested in FPIC-related activities, please visit www.dhs.gov/safecom/fpic for more information.

SAFECOM/NCSWIC Announces Release of the Ten Keys to Improving Emergency Alerts, Warnings, and Notifications Best Practices Guidance

April 29, 2019
11:56 am

Author: Dave Nolan, Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA)

Emergency alert, warning, and notification (AWN) systems protect lives and property by identifying information about an impending threat, communicating that information to those who need it, and facilitating the timely taking of protective actions.

To enhance this critical information sharing across all AWN systems, SAFECOM and the National Council of Statewide Interoperability Coordinators, in collaboration with the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, developed the Ten Keys to Improving Emergency Alerts, Warnings, and Notifications.

Alert originators, managers, system administrators, system operators, and emergency managers from government and non-government organizations alike, can leverage the below best practices, known as the “Ten Keys,” to improve whole-community public emergency messaging:

  • Establish Governance: Establish strong governance and collaborate with existing authorities to create communication pathways to facilitate timely and efficient information sharing
  • Identify and Coordinate with Others: Partner and coordinate with existing AOs, emergency managers, organizations within a jurisdiction and neighboring jurisdictions, public safety communications centers and answering points, public information officers, critical infrastructure sectors, community members and organizations, and communications providers
  • Develop Plans, Policies and Procedures: Identify, establish, document, field-test, and continually evaluate plans, policies, and procedures against the evolving AWN landscape
  • Account for Diverse Populations: Ensure whole community inclusion, as diversity and accessibility influence the ways in which people receive, interpret, and respond to messages. Understanding how messages reach these various demographics and using a variety of communications pathways is necessary for ensuring AWN effectiveness
  • Maintain Security and Resiliency: Ensure cybersecurity across networks, devices, systems, and user interfaces. Secure infrastructure and foster resiliency as manmade and natural disasters can impact AWN issuances if not properly mitigated
  • Incorporate Safeguards: Incorporate internal safeguards, across the entire AWN lifecycle—human and machine—to protect against system misuse and prevent false messaging
  • Train, Exercise and Test Systems: Conduct trainings, exercises, and tests of AWN systems with stakeholders and partners on a regular basis to maintain proficiencies; lessons observed from these activities should be evaluated, documented, and incorporated into future operations
  • Eliminate Issuance and Dissemination Delays: Eliminate issuance and dissemination delays by creating message templates, expediting information sharing, identifying and establishing triggers, and avoiding ad-hoc decision making
  • Deliver Actionable Messaging: Provide comprehensive, targeted, and specific messaging. Remain mindful of creating alert fatigue, but err on the side of public safety when dealing with conflicting or uncertain information
  • Monitor and Correct Misinformation: Monitor for changes in the situation and inaccurate spreading of information, and correct inaccurate or false messaging accordingly

For additional information about this document or AWN best practices, please contact: SAFECOMGovernance@hq.dhs.gov and NCSWICGovernance@hq.dhs.gov. For more resources, please visit: https://www.dhs.gov/safecom/resources.

Public Safety Strategic Collaboration Meeting: Day 2

April 24, 2019
4:18 pm

Author: Ken Bradley, Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) Office of External Affairs

Joint SAFECOM/NCSWIC

Today, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) partnered with SAFECOM and the National Council of Statewide Interoperability Coordinators (NCSWIC) for the second day of the Public Safety Strategic Collaboration Meeting in Pittsburgh, PA.  Today’s sessions included a range of presentations and interactive panels with public safety partners from around the U.S. and all levels of government.

Emerging Alerts, Warnings, and Notifications Capabilities

Antwane Johnson, Director, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Integrated Public Alert and Warning Systems (IPAWS) Program, and Budge Currier, California Statewide Interoperability Coordinator, presented on significant improvements to alerting and notification capabilities effective this fall.  Public safety organizations use alerts, warnings, and notifications to communicate weather conditions, evacuations, amber alerts, and more to the public.  Alerts can be sent in multiple languages and a variety of formats, including ring tones and text-to-speech.  Mr. Currier also provided examples of how California is integrating alerts and warnings into the state’s Next Generation 911 (NG911) and how it is being rolled out across the state.

Panel and Working Session: SAFECOM’s and NCSWIC’s Roles Instituting a “Security First” Perspective to Mitigate the Cyber Threat

Dusty Rhoads, CISA, opened up the session by discussing the importance of cybersecurity in the public safety community and the inclusion of cybersecurity initiatives in the National Emergency Communications Plan (NECP).  Michael Ogata, National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), Public Safety Communications Research Program (PSCR), discussed how to leverage the NIST Cybersecurity Framework for improving critical infrastructure and cybersecurity.  The goal of the framework is to provide a common language for cybersecurity policies and initiatives and guidance on how an organization can create their own cybersecurity initiatives.  Mark Hogan, SAFECOM (At-Large), Director of Asset Management, City of Tulsa, Oklahoma; Richard Jackson, Information Security Manager, Asset Management, City of Tulsa, Oklahoma; and Captain George Perera, SAFECOM (At-Large), Miami-Dade, Florida, Police Department, provided real-world examples of cybersecurity attacks on local systems and their large-scale effects on surrounding organizations and response.  Speakers emphasized utilizing the NIST Cybersecurity Framework as a first step and tool when developing cybersecurity policies and plans.

A Proposal: Leveraging SAFECOM and NCSWIC to Address Information Interoperability

Chief Jonathan Lewin, SAFECOM (Major Cities Chiefs Association), Chicago Police Department was joined by Rob Dew, CISA, and John Contestabile, Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, to engage SAFECOM and NCSWIC members on establishing a joint working group to further develop and implement an interoperability framework that addresses the need for end users to access standardized, interoperable, and consumable information at the scene.  Chief Lewin provided examples of data and information technology the City of Chicago has integrated to assist law enforcement in responding to incidents.  Chief Lewin’s examples were used to show a need for public safety to address this issue.  SAFECOM member Charlie Sasser, National Association of State Technology Directors, volunteered to participate in the working group.

SAFECOM/NCSWIC Committees and Working Groups

SAFECOM and NCSWIC broke out into committees and working groups for the afternoon, which included the following groups:

  • Joint Technology Policy Committee
  • SAFECOM Governance Committee
  • Next Generation 911 Working Group
  • NCSWIC Governance Committee
  • Joint Funding and Sustainment Committee
  • SAFECOM Education and Outreach Committee
  • NCSWIC Planning, Training, and Exercise Committee

Public Safety Strategic Collaboration Meeting: Day 1

April 23, 2019
5:29 pm

Author: Ken Bradley, Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) Office of External Affairs

SAFECOM  Meeting

Today, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) partnered with SAFECOM to kick off the Public Safety Strategic Collaboration Meeting in Pittsburgh, PA.  The day had a range of presentations and interactive panels with public safety partners from around the U.S. and all levels of government.

State of the State

The first presentation of the day came from our host Statewide Interoperability Coordinator (SWIC), Mark Wrightstone, Pennsylvania SWIC.  Mark provided updates from around the Commonwealth about their alerts, warning, and notifications system; enhanced 911 system; and broadband and land mobile radio systems.  Coverage maps for new Project 25 (P25) VHF systems and broadband coverage from the First Responder Network Authority were shared.

2019 National Emergency Communications Plan (NECP)

The NECP is in its third iteration, the first was in 2008 and the second was in 2014.  CISA is required to update the NECP periodically and Nationwide Baseline Assessment every five years.  The 2019 version incorporates feedback and data from 2018 SAFECOM Nationwide Survey, addresses improvements in technology such as broadband including the Nationwide Public Safety Broadband Network built by the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet), Next Generation 911, and cybersecurity threats and vulnerabilities, while also sustaining legacy systems.  The NECP expands on the emergency communications ecosystem developed in the 2014 NECP, utilizing a new graphic to explain how emergency communications occur as technology and threats continue to expand and change. 

Eric Runnels, CISA; Chris Lombard, SAFECOM; and Mike Murphy, SAFECOM discussed how public safety’s feedback was incorporated into the 2019 Plan including members from SAFECOM and NCSWIC participating in a working group, publishing the draft document for public comment, and stakeholder adjudication meeting.

Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology (S&T) Updates

During this session, SAFECOM members received an update from Sridhar Kowdley, DHS Science and Technology Directorate, Office of Interoperability and Compatibility (OIC).  The panel discussed the recent S&T reorganization and current work performed through OIC.  Specifically, the session highlighted the December Next Generation First Responder (NGFR) Technology Experiment held in Houston and the P25 Compliance Assessment Program (CAP).  Sridhar discussed efforts to establish a laboratory to test equipment to ensure it complies with P25 standards. He also highlighted alerts, warnings, and notifications guidance materials and information sharing assessment tools available to stakeholders.

The Impact of Emerging Technology on Public Safety Communications: The California Experience

Budge Currier, California Statewide Interoperability Coordinator (SWIC), discussed recent efforts in California to deploy a cloud-based computer-aided dispatch (CAD) and Next Generation 911 (NG911) across California. This session highlighted best practices and lessons learned for integrating new technologies to promote interoperability.  The session also highlighted lessons learned from recent wildfire response efforts and sending alerts, warnings, and notifications.

Drones and Public Safety

Former SAFECOM Chair, Chief Charles Werner (Ret.), National Public Safety Council of Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) was joined by Anna Gomez, Attorney, Wiley Rein LLP, and Sarah Ellis Peed, CISA.  Chief Werner provided footage from recent incidents where drones were used to assist public safety during wild fires, protest rallies, lava flow, and bridge collapses.   Drones are safely able to provide hazardous environmental feedback to responders during search and rescues, evacuations, and assist with law enforcement incidents.  Anna covered rules, regulations, and requirements for operating UAS, as Congress and the FAA continue to update regulations to provide oversight.  As UAS technology continues to evolve, so do the laws and regulations to users.  Sarah, CISA National Risk Management Center, discussed risk and vulnerabilities for safe and secure use of UAS regarding payloads; however, focus was given to how to operate safely and securely.  In addition to drones being used by public safety, adversaries are interested in gaining access to data and footage.  Similar to body cameras, public safety needs to secure the data and information from drones.  Public safety should think about how the data being stored, transferred, secured, as well as supply chain risk.  Counter UAS includes jammers to disrupt communications.  Sarah urged SAFECOM members and their communities to participate in Critical Infrastructure Advisory Council (CIPAC) working groups that are working on the new authorities that are being authorized to the Department of Homeland Security for counter UAS. 

Smarten Up: The Intersection of Public Safety Communications and Smart City Technologies

Karen Lightman, Executive Director, Metro21: Smart Cities Institute, Carnegie Mellon University (CMU), Dr. Leonard Weiss, Assistant Professor of Emergency Medicine, EMS Medical Director, Assistant Medical Director, STAT MedEvac, University of Pittsburgh, Dr. Jon Peha, Professor of Electrical Engineering and Public Policy CMU, Santiago Garces, Director Innovation and Performance, Chief Innovation Officer City of Pittsburgh, and Chief Werner discussed challenges related to increasing interconnectivity of urban technologies, as demonstrated through Smart Cities, and how data interoperability and management pose unique challenges and opportunities to SAFECOM.  Dr. Weiss provided examples where geolocation failed to save a young women’s life calling 911 from outside an emergency room, telemedicine responses to airlines in flight, as well as, his involvement in the tragedy at the Pittsburgh Tree of Life Synagogue active shooter incident.  Chief Werner discussed the importance of public safety participating in Smart City projects to ensure data interoperability.  Santiago discussed examples of recent flooding in South Bend, IN, where geo-mapping was used for evacuations, drones were used for structural assessments, and communications challenges with IT and public safety assisting with regional coordination.  Jon addressed how his research, working with public safety agencies, the FCC, and White House Office of Science and Technology Policy have effected real world events such as disseminating information to non-English speakers during disasters (Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico), body worn camera, and Smart Cities.  The panel addressed proposed questions from Karen and from the audience.

NCSWIC PTE Committee In-Person Meeting

April 18, 2019
1:02 pm

National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC) Logo

The National Council of Statewide Interoperability Coordinators (NCSWIC) Planning, Training, and Exercise (PTE) Committee focuses on capturing best practices and streamlining information sharing for training and exercise processes related to public safety communications at all levels of government. The Committee coordinates closely with the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) on service offerings. The NCSWIC PTE Committee met in Boise, Idaho, April 9-10, 2019, to discuss the COMM-X Portal, exercises-in-a-box templates, and outreach products. Participants also toured the National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC).

COMM-X Portal Update

Jessica Kaputa, CISA, and Cary Martin, CISA, provided a demonstration of the COMM-X Portal and updated the committee on progress. ​The COMM-X Joint Training and Exercise Portal for Emergency Communications is a one-stop-shop for planners and operators to access emergency communications-specific training and exercise material, events and resources hosted on the Homeland Security Information Network.

The COMM-X Portal Beta version was launched on April 15th for a 30 days for users to upload training and exercise documents and provide feedback on potential improvements. For feedback or questions on the COMM-X Portal, please contact the team at COMM-Xportal@hq.dhs.gov.

A "ton" of Statewide Interoperability Coordinators (SWICs) check out the NIFC scale.

Exercises-In-A-Box Update

John Miller, New Jersey Statewide Interoperability Coordinator (SWIC) and NCSWIC PTE Chair, and Thomas Gonzalez, Texas Department of Public Safety, provided an update on the exercises-in-a-box templates. The committee is currently working on three exercises-in-a-box templates to upload on the COMM-X Portal and share with training and exercise coordinators for use in their exercise planning. The Federal Emergency Management Agency Emergency Support Function #2 Earthquake Situation Manual will be published on the NCSWIC resources page and the COMM-X Portal in May.

NIFC Tour

Participants went on a tour of the National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC), located in Boise, Idaho. The NIFC is the nation's support center for wildland firefighting and eight different agencies and organizations are part of NIFC. Decisions are made using the interagency cooperation concept, as NIFC has no single director or manager. The committee saw the National Interagency Coordination Center (NICC), the NIFC radio cache, Boise BLM Smokejumper School, and the National Weather Service – Boise.

SWBCWG Discusses Shared Communications Systems and Infrastructure

April 17, 2019
3:49 pm

Author: Southwest Border Communications Working Group

The Southwest Border Communications Working Group (SWBCWG) convened in San Diego, CA, on March 20-21 to discuss improving communications operability and interoperability for public safety personnel along the international border with Mexico. One of the largest meetings to date, partners from all levels of government coalesced around the concept of Shared Communications Systems and Infrastructure (SCSI) as a mechanism to optimize resource management, reduce duplication of capital investments, and improve operable and interoperable public safety communications. Other topics discussed include:

  • California’s wildfire response efforts
  • Cross-border spectrum and interference issues
  • International communications policy
  • Federal  national security, emergency preparedness and support efforts in the region
  • Regional infrastructure enhancements, and

Federal, state, local, and tribal (F/S/L/T) representatives explored the benefits and hindrances to Shared Systems implementation through a series of working sessions. These sessions highlighted the challenges current legacy systems pose to public safety personnel and the continuing trend to update technology. Stakeholders identified governance structures, funding, and security as obstacles to widespread Shared Systems implementation, and the SWBCWG proposed the formation of a Focus Group to address these issues.

A panel discussion addressed F/S/L perspectives on advancing operability and interoperability in the Southwest Border region. Participants engaged in a comparative discussion of the advantages of designating funds for infrastructure sharing versus offering in-kind services. Differences in governmental approaches to shared systems projects prompted substantive discussions on the administrative impacts to sharing and how such challenges can be mitigated through trusted partnerships, open, bilateral processes, and detailed governance agreements.

Statewide Interoperability Coordinators (SWICs) from each Southwest Border state were present at the meeting, as were officials from the U.S. Defense and State Departments. Their contributions educated the group on geospatial coverage mapping tools, federal border support activities, and the processes for instituting new arrangements in place of outdated communications protocols. Local and tribal representatives identified the challenges that impede sharing with certain organizations and helped to highlight the critical issues that must be addressed to achieve the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency’s vision of a Shared Systems approach along the Southwest Border.

For further information on how CISA is engaging in cross border effort, please visit https://www.dhs.gov/oec-international-cross-border-emergency-communications-efforts.

Next In-Person Meeting

The next in-person SWBCWG meeting is scheduled to be held in Tucson, Arizona, on June 25-26. All interested in attending should RSVP to SWBCWG@hq.dhs.gov. For those unable to participate in person, there are remote options provided in advance of all meetings.

To learn more about SWBCWG activities, to get involved, and/or to receive regular updates, please email SWBCWG@hq.dhs.gov.

CISA Engagement at 2019 USET Impact Week

April 10, 2019
11:08 am

Author: CISA Tribal Affairs

The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) was invited to share information about the importance of the recently released Emergency Communications Governance Guide for State, Local, Tribal, and Territorial Officials (SLTT Governance Guide) during the United South Eastern Tribes (USET) Impact Week. Impact Week was held March 4-7 in Crystal City, Virginia, and focused on key tribal issues including culture and heritage, economic development and entrepreneurship, education, health, homeland security and emergency services, housing, natural resources, social services, transportation, tribal administration, justice, and Veterans affairs. This annual event draws participants from 27 federally-recognized tribes from the eastern and southern United States.

CISA participated during the Homeland Security and Emergency Services Committee session on March 6 to provide an overview of the SLTT Governance Guide and encourage tribes to provide input to the National Emergency Communications Plan (NECP).

CISA discussed lessons learned and best practices recommended within the SLTT Governance Guide, which support effective public safety communications governance. Governance is critical to interoperable communications, planning, coordination, and decision making, as well as to integrating emerging technologies into public safety communications systems.  The SLTT Governance Guide examines key issues such as the various types of governance structures, as well as the importance of establishing strategic partnerships, training, and formal agreements.

The NECP organizes national public safety planning efforts to improve and sustain emergency communications capabilities. This plan provides guidance for communications to support response and recovery operations across traditional emergency responder disciplines including law enforcement, fire services, emergency medical services, and dispatch. Non-traditional entities addressed within the plan include medical facilities, utilities, nongovernmental organizations, media, and private citizens.

The NECP is undergoing an update to address recommendations from the public safety community. Development of both the SLTT Governance Guide and NECP is facilitated by CISA through SAFECOM and the National Council of Statewide Interoperability Coordinators. SLTT, federal, and private sector input helped shape both documents, and tribal input helps to ensure that the unique needs and challenges tribes face are represented and addressed. The draft NECP was released for public comment through March 22. A special focus group of public safety officials, which will include tribal representation met on April 3 to adjudicate comments.

CISA also described the ongoing communications governance profile effort. Each profile individually documents a tribe’s communications infrastructure, capabilities, challenges, and opportunities for improvement. The governance profiles help identify ways in which CISA can support tribal efforts to enhance existing capabilities or establish new infrastructure. The profile effort has led to the discovery of multiple best practices which are documented within the SLTT Governance Guide. The profiles also lead to technical assistance to tribes such as planning and documentation support, exercise development and coordination, technical coverage and gap analysis, relationship building, and the development of dispatch capabilities.

Multiple tribes who participated in the Homeland Security and Emergency Services Committee session were interested in applying best practices outlined in the SLTT Governance Guide and learning more about the NECP. They also expressed a strong interest in participating in the governance profile effort to identify ways in which CISA could provide technical assistance to their tribe.

For more information about the SLTT Governance Guide, NECP, or communications governance profile effort, contact SAFECOMGovernance@HQ.DHS.GOV.

Release of FY 2019 SAFECOM Guidance on Emergency Communications Grants

April 8, 2019
2:58 pm

Author: Ronald Hewitt, Assistant Director for Emergency Communications, Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, U.S Department of Homeland Security

On behalf of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), I am releasing the Fiscal Year 2019 SAFECOM Guidance on Emergency Communications Grants (SAFECOM Guidance). This document is updated annually to provide current information on emergency communications policies, eligible costs, best practices, and technical standards for state, local, tribal, and territorial grant recipients investing federal funds in emergency communications projects.

The SAFECOM Guidance aligns with the National Emergency Communications Plan (NECP), which emphasizes the need to enhance governance structures, plans, and protocols that enable the emergency response community to communicate and share information under all circumstances. It aims to maximize the use of all communications capabilities available to public safety officials—voice, video, and data—and to ensure the security of data and information exchange. To accomplish this, grant recipients must engage the whole community in preparedness activities. Similarly, the SAFECOM Guidance addresses the rapidly evolving emergency communications ecosystem and encourages grant recipients to support the concepts and recommendations within the NECP.

This year’s funding priorities remain consistent with previous SAFECOM Guidance releases. Department of Homeland Security grant recipients investing in emergency communications are still required to comply with SAFECOM Guidance Appendix D. All grant applicants are encouraged to coordinate with their statewide governance bodies and emergency communications leaders (e.g., Statewide Interoperability Coordinators) to ensure projects support the state or territory’s strategy to improve interoperable emergency communications. In addition, grant applicants should work with public and private entities, and across jurisdictions and disciplines, to assess needs, plan projects, coordinate resources, and improve response through cross-training and joint exercises. These coordination efforts are important to ensure that interoperability remains a top priority. Key changes to the Guidance include restructuring Appendix B—Technology and Equipment Standards for an easier format with comprehensive system lifecycle planning and cybersecurity guidelines upfront, and detailed technical standards and resources for various public safety systems.

The SAFECOM Guidance encourages grant applicants to participate, support, and invest in planning activities that will help states or territories prepare for deployment of new emergency communications systems or technologies. At the same time, there is a need to sustain current land mobile radio (LMR) systems into the foreseeable future. Grant recipients should continue developing plans and standard operating procedures, conducting training and exercises, and investing in standards-based equipment to sustain LMR capabilities, while concurrently planning for the integration and deployment of new technologies. Grant recipients must also consider cybersecurity risks across all capabilities when planning operable, interoperable, and continuity of communications.

As in previous years, CISA developed the SAFECOM Guidance in partnership with SAFECOM and the National Council of Statewide Interoperability Coordinators. CISA also consulted federal partners and the Emergency Communications Preparedness Center to ensure emergency communications policies are coordinated and consistent across the Federal Government. Grant applicants are encouraged to reference this document when developing emergency communications investments for federal funding, and to direct any questions to my office at oec@hq.dhs.gov.

NCSWIC Releases Emergency Management Assistance Compact (EMAC) Package

March 18, 2019
3:57 pm

Emergency Management Assistance Compact (EMAC) is a nationally adopted mutual aid agreement that establishes a national system to facilitate the sharing of state and local government publicly-owned resources across state lines during times of emergency or disaster as long as there is a State of Emergency declared by the governor of  the affected EMAC Member State.

The National Council of Statewide Interoperability Coordinators (NCSWIC) Planning, Training, and Exercise (PTE) Committee, in coordination with Region IV, developed an EMAC Package to share best practices and templates to support the public safety community when submitting an EMAC request. The EMAC package includes the EMAC Best Practices and six communications-specific EMAC Mission Readiness Package (MRP) models.

  • The EMAC Best Practices Guide improves understanding of the EMAC processes for developing MRPs for communications equipment and personnel.
  • The EMAC MRP Models are EMAC request templates for satellite voice, satellite data, mobile communications site, radio cache, telecommunications support, and COMU support team. These models serve as a guide for states when responding to an EMAC request.

The EMAC Package is available for download at https://www.dhs.gov/safecom/sops. For additional information on the EMAC process, please reference the https://www.emacweb.org/ or contact NCSWICGovernance@hq.dhs.gov.  

Pages

Microsite Carousel

Back to Top