Blog

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.  

March 18, 2019
9:35 am

Authors: Robert Dew and David Nolan, Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency

The Internet of Things (IoT) – or the network of physical devices and connectivity that enables objects to connect to one another, to the internet, and exchange data amongst themselves – presents undeniable implications for public safety communications. The life-and-death costs of not addressing the concerns of operating in an IoT environment are too high for public safety to not engage.

In response, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) has developed The Internet of Things: Impact on Public Safety Communications white paper to enhance the community's understanding of how to successfully harness IoT in the public safety context.

IoT stretches the limit, scope, and reach of the traditional public safety communications capabilities. While first responders have already been adapting to IoT, CISA uses this document to provide recommendations on how information sharing, collaboration, and training will allow the community to benefit from this increased interconnection.  IoT can help public safety by providing ubiquitous network connectivity, enhanced situational awareness, process optimization, and real-time response/control of autonomous systems.  However, integrating IoT into a public safety operational framework also poses concerns regarding cybersecurity, scale, network congestion, interoperability, human impacts, and policies for IoT provisioning, priority, and data privacy.

CISA concludes that all levels of government, industry, and academia must work together to: (1) understand how public safety personnel can expeditiously and proficiently use IoT devices to carry out their missions; and (2) accelerate the process of inserting public safety requirements into IoT discussions.

For additional information on this document, please visit www.dhs.gov/technology or contact SAFECOMGovernance@hq.dhs.gov.

March 15, 2019
12:29 pm

Author: Ted Lawson, Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), Joint SAFECOM and NCSWIC Technology Policy Committee

Procuring land mobile radio (LMR) subscriber units can be a challenging process filled with many opportunities and pitfalls for the procuring agency. The ultimate goal is to procure radio units that meet the operability and interoperability needs of the user community, taking the necessary steps a procuring agency or entity should follow to ensure the success of that goal.

To support the procurement process, the Joint SAFECOM and National Council of Statewide Interoperability Coordinators (NCSWIC) Technology Policy Committee is pleased to announce the publication of the Request for Proposal (RFP) Best Practices for Land Mobile Radio (LMR) Subscriber Units Procurement Toolkit (“RFP Toolkit”), a four-part document suite that introduces federal, state, local, tribal, territorial, and regional public safety agencies and entities to the RFP and request for information (RFI) process for procuring LMR subscriber units (radio units). The RFP Toolkit, which was developed and approved by the LMR user community, draws upon the experiences of SAFECOM and NCSWIC members who have been involved in similar procurements.

While the RFP Toolkit is not intended to address every factor associated with LMR subscriber unit procurement or to solve all problems, each component of the toolkit can serve as an introductory or guidance resource for public safety emergency communications planners, administrators, and users. Each document is presented in a manner that provides flexibility to support the agency or entity seeking RFP or RFI guidance. The RFP Toolkit recognizes that agencies and entities at all levels of government have differing needs and resources, and encourages users of these documents to consult governing procurement policy, officers, or legal counsel when approaching RFP and RFI planning and development.

The RFP Toolkit includes the documents outlined below. An overview document outlining each product of the RFP Toolkit is available at www.dhs.gov/technology.

  • RFP Best Practices for LMR Subscriber Units Procurement ("Do’s and Don’ts"): Summarizes high-level best practices the public safety community should consider when planning and developing LMR subscriber unit RFPs
  • RFP and RFI Development Timeline for LMR Subscriber Units Procurement: Maps the timeline and significant steps involved in developing an RFP or RFI to purchase LMR subscriber units.
  • RFP and RFI Roles and Responsibilities for LMR Subscriber Units Procurement: Outlines the roles and responsibilities which the public safety community should consider when creating a team to plan, develop, issue LMR subscriber unit RFPs
  • RFP and RFI Sample Language and Resources for LMR Subscriber Units: Provides sample content structure and language, along with a list of general user resources, for developing LMR subscriber unit RFPs and RFIs.

All RFP Toolkit products are available at www.dhs.gov/publication/lmr-and-broadband-evolution. For additional information or questions about the RFP Toolkit, please contact SAFECOMGovernance@hq.dhs.gov.

March 12, 2019
9:19 am

On May 2, 2018, a series of fires broke out in Fairfax County, Virginia, requiring significant mutual aid assistance from Fire and Rescue Department (FXCO FRD) units. Multiple jurisdictions responded to the scene to fight these fires, rescue those affected, and restore order.

The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) in partnership with SAFECOM created the “An Extraordinary Day” video to capture the gravity of the incidents and highlight the success of the response operations as a result of authorized, interoperable communications. In-person interviews with the men and women on duty that day—ranging from dispatch personnel to incident commanders—provide an exclusive look into critical factors supporting communications, such as standard operating procedures (SOPs), technology advancements, mutual aid agreements, and much more.

Our heartfelt thanks goes to FXCO FRD and all the personnel who shared their experiences that extraordinary day and provided insight into what others need to do to ensure successful interoperable communications.

"An Extraordinary Day" Video image link

Click image to open video for viewing.

For more information, please visit www.dhs.gov/safecom.

March 8, 2019
1:55 pm

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

International Wireless Communications Expo

The International Wireless Communications Expo (IWCE) is the leading event for communications technology, bringing together over 7,000 industry and public safety professionals.  Today, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) is co-located with the Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) in the Exhibit Hall at Booth #715, as well as presenting alongside its public safety partners in one sessions.

Application Interoperability- The Next Holy Grail

This session opened up with the just released CISA and SAFECOM “An Extraordinary Day” video, which tells the story of successful response to three fire incidents on a single day in Fairfax County, VA.  The video includes how the National Capital Region (NCR), specifically Fairfax County Fire, coordinated with surrounding jurisdictions via computer aided dispatch (CAD) or “CAD to CAD.” The NCR has established governance to ensure data interoperability with their CAD systems, a major contributor to success that day.

Panelists addressed the need for emergency communications governance and why jurisdictions and regions should pursue improved governance for emergency communications interoperability prior to the next catastrophic event.  The Air Florida Flight 90 crash into the Potomac in 1982 was provided as the catalyst event for the NCR.

Panelists agreed, as technologies become increasingly complex and interconnected, so do requirements for building robust and inclusive public safety governance to create solutions on how best to support complex information and data exchange. Bringing key players to the table is a first step to establishing necessary processes and plans, such as mutual aid agreements, across communities prior to the incident. 

As heard in other sessions throughout the week, the panel continued to support the applicability of the SAFECOM Interoperability Continuum to not only voice, but data interoperability as well.

CISA continues tomorrow with its final panel at IWCE.  For CISA’s full schedule of events at IWCE, please visit the SAFECOM Blog.

March 6, 2019
8:01 am

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

International Wireless Communications Expo

The International Wireless Communications Expo (IWCE) is the leading event for communications technology, bringing together over 7,000 industry and public safety professionals.  Today, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) is co-located with the Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) in the Exhibit Hall at Booth #715, as well as presenting alongside its public safety partners in three sessions.

Emergency Communications is Undergoing Unprecedented Change… Is Your State Ready?

CISA and the National Governors Association (NGA) have partnered on emergency communications governance for over a decade.  Most recently, NGA and CISA coordinated on a Policy Academy on Enhancing Emergency Communications Interoperability in 2016 with five states: Alaska, Hawaii, Illinois, Utah, and West Virginia. Outcomes from the academy provided states with four recommendations: 1) establish or reinvigorate statewide governance bodies, 2) engage legislators, 3) empower the Statewide Interoperability Coordinator (SWIC), and 4) revitalize the Statewide Communication Interoperability Plan (SCIP).  Following the recommendations, CISA and NGA held five workshops with over 180 participants from 49 states and territories. 

Top governance challenges identified from the workshops included: sustainable funding, executive branch support, authority and legislative support, elevation of the SWIC/Communications Champion, consolidated coordinated governance, governance body membership and participation, and coordination with locals.  From there, 15 goals were developed, including efforts to further inform issues related to cybersecurity, interoperability, social media, and more.

During the session, Delaware and Michigan provided updates on progress made toward improving the structure and function of their governance bodies and how they are implementing recommendations.  Both are focused on educating decisions makers and bringing them to the table to discuss the need for resources to support emergency communications interoperability in their states.

The panel also highlighted a recent publication, Emergency Communications Governance Guide for State, Local, Tribal, and Territorial Officials, recently posted on the SAFECOM Website and available in hard copy for the next two days at the CISA booth.

Protections, Capabilities, and Real-World Deployments of Encryption Protocols

The public safety community has recognized the increasing need to protect sensitive information transmitted over its wireless communications systems. Additionally, as users continue to implement digital land mobile radio (LMR) technology such as Project 25 (P25), the relative cost of employing encryption services to protect this information has decreased with digital technology. The panelist discussed the value of encryption, as well as the need for public transparency and interoperability with outside resources.

Interoperability: ISSI, CSSI, DFSI

As a result of the first responder environment becoming increasingly complex and dangerous, public safety users have identified a critical need for mutual aid interoperability and the ability to operate on other P25 systems in adjacent or statewide jurisdictions. During this session, speakers discussed the P25 Inter RF Subsystem Interface (ISSI) Console Subscriber System Interface (CSSI) technology, a standards-based internet protocol (IP) and Digital Fixed Station Interface DFSI, which permits both voice and control of the repeater.

CISA continues tomorrow with additional panels and exhibiting at IWCE.  For CISA’s full schedule of events at IWCE, please visit the SAFECOM Blog.

March 5, 2019
3:39 pm

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

International Wireless Communications Expo

The International Wireless Communications Expo (IWCE) is the leading event for communications technology, bringing over 7,000 industry public safety professionals all in one place. The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) is partnering with the Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) at Exhibit Hall on Wednesday and Thursday in Booth #715, but first CISA is partnering with its public safety partners in two sessions today.

P25 for the Future: New Products, Applications, Interoperability and Security

This session had 11 panel of 11 subject matter experts of engineers, practitioners, and consultants including James Downes, CISA Federal Emergency Communications Section Chief, and moderated by Steve Nichols, Project 25 Technology Interest Group (PTIG), who discussed the importance of Project 25 (P25) to public safety including its history, case studies, recent developments, and security. P25 is a set of accredited technical standards for land mobile radio (LMR) designed for public safety. Mr. Downes discussed P25 testing, the test template that is available for equipment testing where standards do not yet exist. The template was conceived to test the common features and functions between the systems with an intent to report on interoperability. P25 interoperability importance to public safety remains relevant as broadband technology networks begin to integrate LMR mission critical voice.

COML Update: Managing Information at the Incident

Dusty Rhoads, CISA Governance Branch Chief, moderated a panel of experts on the importance of using Communications Unit Leaders (COML) to coordinate the increasingly complex amount of information and data collected, analyzed, and utilized at an incident scene. Panelists agreed that even if the technologies necessary for receiving and transmitting data are available, public safety organizations need to continue best practices supporting the people and processes aspects of emergency communications interoperability, including cross-border, regional governance; integrated and complementary standards operating procedures; regular, comprehensive regional training and exercises; and consistent use, practice, and coordination of existing, new, and emerging technologies during planned and unplanned events. To ensure interoperability, coordination has to be done ahead of the incident.

CISA continues tomorrow with additional panels and exhibiting at IWCE. For CISA’s full schedule of events at IWCE, please visit the SAFECOM Blog.

February 27, 2019
12:03 pm

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

The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) will be at the 2019 International Wireless Communications Expo (IWCE) at the Las Vegas Convention Center in Las Vegas, Nevada, from March 4 to 8.

This year CISA is partnering with the Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) at the Exhibit Hall in Booth #715 or you catch us at one of the many panel discussions we’ll be participating in at the IWCE with our public safety partners:

 

CISA at IWCE Flyer

Tuesday, March 5th

P25 for the Future: New Products, Applications, Interoperability and Security

8:30 AM – 11:30 AM; Room N256

  • James Downes, Steve Nichols, Dominick Arcuri, Andy Davis, Jeremy Elder, Keith La Plant, Alan Massie, Justin Evans, Del Smith, Cindy Cast, Jim Holthaus, Robin Grier

Town Hall: COML Update: Managing Information at the Incident

10:00 AM – 10:45 AM; Room N253

  • Dusty Rhoads, Gerald Reardon, John Contestabile, Niki Papazoglakis

Wednesday, March 6th

Emergency Communication is Undergoing Unprecedented Change… Is Your State Ready?

10:15 AM – 11:30 AM; Room N2260

  • Mark Grubb, Brad Stoddard, Michael Garcia, Robert Coupe

Protections, Capabilities, and Real-World Deployments of Encryption Protocols

10:15 AM – 11:30 AM; Room N258

  • James Downes, Scott Wright, Steve Dyson, Alan Massie, John Bryant, Keith LaPlant, Andy Davis

Interoperability: ISSI, CSSI, DFSI

2:45 PM – 4:00 PM; Room N261

  • James Downes, Scott Wright, Justin Evans, Greg Jurrens, Andy Davis, Tom Burkett, Nick Pennance

Thursday, March 7th

Application Interoperability- The Next Holy Grail

11:45 AM – 1:00 PM; Room N261

  • Dusty Rhoads, Joshua Jack, Niki Papazoglakis

Friday, March 8th

Data Management at the Incident: The Role of the Information Technology Service Unit Leader

8:15 AM – 11:15 AM; Room N259

  • Dan Hawkins, Dan Wills, Wes Rodgers, Chris Lombard

For more information regarding CISA's participation in IWCE, please visit www.iwceexpo.com.

February 22, 2019
10:05 am

SAFECOM, in conjunction with its member associations, the Emergency Communications Preparedness Center, and many additional members of public safety, has worked for over the past year with the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) to update the National Emergency Communications Plan (NECP). The NECP organizes our Nation’s efforts to sustain and improve emergency communications capabilities. It is a critical planning document for public safety agencies and all those involved in the safety and security of our communities. Now the broader community has the opportunity to review and provide feedback on the NECP updates.

Key proposed updates to the NECP address the range of changes public safety stakeholders face including rapid technological advancements, increasingly complex incidents, and constrained resources. For example, the update offers a new cybersecurity goal to help improve public safety’s cyber security posture. A staggering 81% of local agencies that responded to the SAFECOM Nationwide Survey reported they had insufficient or no funding for cybersecurity efforts yet nearly 40% reported cyber disruptions impacting their emergency communications.

Additionally, the NECP offers an updated graphic and explanation of the emergency communications ecosystem. This key concept has served the community well as it articulates the breadth and inclusiveness the people and functions involved in emergency communications. The draft also revises content on important advancements made in data interoperability, the First Responder Network Authority's (FirstNet) Nationwide Public Safety Broadband Network adoption, personnel impacts and much more since the last update in 2014.

You can access the draft 2019 NECP on the DHS webpage. Please review the document and submit your feedback via the comment form to OECNECP@hq.dhs.gov by March 22, 2019.

February 14, 2019
12:11 pm

Author: Cary Martin and Robin Beatty, Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security (CISA)

SAFECOM and the National Council of Statewide Interoperability Coordinators are pleased to present an update to the Emergency Communications Governance Guide for State, Local, Tribal, and Territorial Officials.

Since March 2018, representatives from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) and the State, Local, Tribal, and Territorial (SLTT) Governance Guide Working Group have worked diligently to update the Governance Guide, last released in 2015. The guide aims to provide a resourceful, multifaceted framework that encourages agencies and partners to establish decision making bodies, for the benefit of the Emergency Communications Ecosystem.

Based on results of the SAFECOM Nationwide Survey, challenges for emergency communications partners include involving new entities beyond traditional responders in decision making, and integrating emerging technologies into public safety communications systems. The Governance Guide addresses these issues and encourages the establishment of formal agreements and governance bodies to overcome them.

For any questions related to the 2018 SLTT Governance Guide, please email CISA at slttgovguide@hq.dhs.gov.

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