SAFECOM Blog

September 18, 2018
8:17 am

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Office of Emergency Communications (OEC) has posted results and findings from this year’s SAFECOM Nationwide Survey (SNS). The data captured by the survey is vital to understanding our nation’s current emergency communications capabilities and gaps, as well as how to progress emergency communications capabilities forward.

The results and findings are posted as a briefing that provides national-level results for local-level organizations from across all of the topics covered by the survey. The results can be found here: https://www.dhs.gov/safecom/sns. This briefing is only OEC's initial publication related to the survey results. Be sure to revisit the SAFECOM website in the coming months for information about the Nationwide Communications Baseline Assessment, which will rely heavily on the data obtained from the SNS. 

OEC appreciates the thousands of emergency responders across the country who participated in the SNS and have an ongoing commitment to the advancement of our shared mission—to provide the Nation and the communities we serve with safety and security.

Questions? E-mail the SNS Inbox at sns@hq.dhs.gov and a representative will respond to you as soon as possible.

August 17, 2018
2:37 pm

Author: Cary Martin, Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Office of Emergency Communications (OEC), and Robin Beatty, DHS OEC

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Office of Emergency Communications (OEC) and the State, Local, Tribal, and Territorial (SLTT) Officials Governance Guide Working Group members are updating the Emergency Communications Governance Guide for State, Local, Tribal, and Territorial Officials (the Governance Guide). This document was last revised and published in 2015. During meetings occurring on June 12, July 12, and August 2, 2018, Working Group members conducted an in-depth review and revision process for the 2018 version of the Governance Guide.

Meeting

Led by Mr. Dan Martinez, Working Group Chair, and Ms. Karla Jurrens, Working Group Vice Chair, Working Group members and subject matter experts have been working diligently to provide SLTT government agencies with a hands-on guide for governance of emergency communications.

By identifying successful approaches to emergency communications governance, this guide can assist users in garnering support from public safety/emergency management leadership and elected officials to support, fund, and participate in governance organizations and activities, as well as meet requirements for long-term strategic planning of emergency communications.

The OEC team has conducted multiple interviews with working group members on training and exercises, grants, and NG9-1-1. Data collected from the interviews will be incorporated into a complete overview of the current state of governance and future goals regarding:

  • Coordination of resources
  • Establishing funding and sustainment policies
  • Developing partnerships
  • Building collaborative governance structures

In addition, the team has completed numerous interviews with subject matter experts outside of the working group, including several Statewide Interoperability Coordinators and OEC Regional Coordinators.

The in-person working group meeting is quickly approaching!

With a full agenda, Working Group members and OEC are excited to engage in what will be an extremely productive meeting hosted by the Citizen Potawatomi Nation in Shawnee, Oklahoma. This meeting will allow public safety communications officials from different levels of government to participate in key discussions surrounding governance and to finalize the draft of the 2018 Governance Guide.

Participation and Meetings

The next Working Group meeting is scheduled for late August 2018 via webinar. Although we are nearing the end of the data gathering process, if you would like to share successes or challenges regarding emergency communications governance to benefit others, and for possible inclusion in the 2018 Governance Guide, please email us at slttgovguide@hq.dhs.gov.

Information about previous Working Group meetings can be found on the SAFECOM Blog:

May 24, 2018: https://www.dhs.gov/safecom/blog/2018/06/11/sltt-governance-guide-working-group-meeting-4

May 3, 2018: https://www.dhs.gov/safecom/blog/2018/05/29/sltt-governance-guide-working-group-meeting-3

April 12, 2018: https://www.dhs.gov/safecom/blog/2018/04/30/sltt-governance-guide-meeting-2

March 29, 2018: https://www.dhs.gov/safecom/blog/2018/04/04/2018-sltt-governance-guide

For more information on governance resources please visit the SAFECOM website.

August 2, 2018
11:05 am

Author: Ken Bradley, Department of Homeland Security (DHS) National Protection and Programs Directorate (NPPD) Office of External Affairs

The Office of Emergency Communications (OEC) will be exhibiting and speaking next week at the 2018 Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials (APCO) Conference. This year OEC is partnering with the Department of Homeland Security Office of Science and Technology at Exhibit Hall Booth #1149 or catch us at one of the many panel discussions we’ll be participating in at the APCO with our public safety partners:

Sunday, August 5th

How to Adopt Mobile Apps and Avoid the Interoperability Challenges of the Past: Standards or Regional Coordination

10:55 AM – 11:40 AM; Room Bassano 2701-2710, Level 2

  • Ron Hewitt, Niki Papazoglakis, Scott Edson, Shing H. Lin, Robert Escalle

Monday, August 6th

An Update on DHS’ Efforts to Improve Emergency Communications

3:15 PM – 4:15 PM; Room: Bellini 2002-2003/2102-2103, Level 2

  • Ron Hewitt, John Merrill

Monday, August 6th

Hurricane Maria- Emergency Communications Response in Puerto Rico

4:30 PM – 5:30 PM; Room: Venetian G, Level 2

  • Chris Tuttle, Jay English, Jarrett Devine, Jeremy Johnson, Dustin Ventresca

Tuesday, August 7th

Hurricane Maria- Emergency Communications Response in Puerto Rico

1:30 PM – 2:30 PM; Room: Titian 2302-2303, Level 2

  • Chris Tuttle, Jay English, Jarrett Devine, Jeremy Johnson, Dustin Ventresca

Second General Business Session

4:00 PM – 5:00 PM; Room: Venetian-Palazzo, Galileo Ballroom

  • Ron Hewitt
July 24, 2018
2:26 pm

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Office of Emergency Communications (OEC) seeks your knowledge on issues affecting public safety communications to inform updates to the 2019 National Emergency Communication Plan (NECP). Stakeholder input is key to ensuring critical issues are considered and addressed during the revision period.

The NECP is a forward-thinking, strategic document, driven by stakeholder feedback, which aims to guide the nation now and into the future toward improved operability and interoperability. Stakeholder input will inform NECP development phases for publication in 2019.

The SAFECOM Nationwide Survey (SNS) told us:

  • Cybersecurity incidents affect 1/3 of public safety organizations’ ability to communicate, but most lack necessary funding to address the issue or include cybersecurity in the planning process
  • Most organizations support their communications systems with grant funds, but many lack funding for personnel and cybersecurity
  • Data use amongst organizations is on the rise, yet, many report never using or testing data interoperability

If you can relate to these issues, please join us on Tuesday, July 31st, in discussions to plan for your future. You may join these discussions using the following information:

Event:  2019 National Emergency Communications Plan National Development Webinar

Date and Time:  Tuesday, July 31st, 2018, 11:00 am – 12:00 pm EDT

Dial-in (for audio):  (800) 699-1085

Webinar Link (for visual):  HTTPS://SHARE.DHS.GOV/NECP2019

If you have questions, please email the OEC NECP Inbox at OECNECP@hq.dhs.gov.

July 12, 2018
1:44 pm

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Office of Emergency Communications (OEC) seeks your knowledge on issues affecting public safety communications to inform updates to the 2019 National Emergency Communication Plan. Stakeholder input is key to ensuring critical issues are considered and addressed in the revised plan.

The SAFECOM Nationwide Survey (SNS) told us:

  • Cybersecurity incidents affect 1/3 of organizations’ ability to communicate the past five years, but most lack necessary funding to address the issue or include cybersecurity in the planning process
  • Most organizations fund their communications systems with grants funds, but many lack funding for personnel and cybersecurity
  • Data use amongst organizations is on the rise, yet, many report never using or testing interoperability for data

If you can relate to these issues, please join us on Wednesday, July 18 in discussion to plan for your future. You may join these discussions using the following information:

Event: 2019 National Emergency Communications Plan National Development Webinar

Date and Time: Wednesday, July 18th, 2018, 2:00 pm – 3:00 pm EDT

Dial-in (For Audio): (800) 786-1918

Webinar Link (For Visual): https://share.dhs.gov/necp2019

The NECP is a forward-thinking, strategic document, driven by stakeholder feedback, which aims to guide the nation now and into the future toward improved operability and interoperability. Stakeholder input will inform NECP development phases for publication in 2019.

July 10, 2018
3:22 pm

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Office of Emergency Communications (OEC) is reestablishing the Rural Emergency Medical Communications Demonstration Project (REMCDP) grant opportunity to work with a public health or medical facility to examine communications barriers and identify solutions that enhance existing emergency communications infrastructure. Specifically, applicants must demonstrate their ability to leverage existing technologies and engage non-medical professionals to help establish or sustain statewide medical communications systems and utilize existing infrastructures to improve the delivery of rural medical care. Eligible applicants may apply for up to $2,000,000 for a two-year period of performance, October 1, 2018 – September 30, 2020. REMCDP funding will be awarded in September 2018 through a competitive review process.

The REMCDP Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) is available on www.grants.gov; applications are due by Wednesday, August 8, 2018, at 11:59:00 PM EDT. Additional information about the current REMCDP recipient’s First Hands Program and the new grant opportunity can be found on www.dhs.gov/remcdp.

June 27, 2018
10:51 am

Author: Jennifer Cory, Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Office of Emergency Communications (OEC)

The Department of Homeland Security Office of Emergency Communications (OEC) Border Interoperability Demonstration Project (BIDP) was a one-time $25.5 million grant program that focused on identifying innovative solutions to interoperability along the northern and southern U.S. borders.  While the grant program has closed, OEC remains focused on transferring BIDP information and knowledge to all border communities and other interested parties.  In addition to a closeout report and the BIDP Study on Implementing Interoperability Channels along and across the United States–Canadian Border, as well as the BIDP Study on Rural and Urban Area Interoperability Solutions along and across International Borders, OEC published two additional studies:

  • BIDP Study on Environmental Planning and Historic Preservation (EHP) Compliance along the Border identifies domestic and international EHP requirements that may be applicable in border areas.  The study includes a five-step process for obtaining EHP compliance, as well as example documentation and photographs for communities to reference.  More specifically, it examines federal laws and categorical exclusions, environmental assessments, and environmental impact statements that are common to emergency communications projects.  The study also offers example records of environmental consideration that other communities may reference in their submissions.
  • BIDP Study on Implementing Advanced and Emerging Technologies along and across International Borders examines San Diego, California’s project to add capacity and capabilities to its regional communications network.  The study discusses common challenges (e.g., human factors, data security) and emphasizes the non-technical steps that are often overlooked when deploying advanced and emerging technologies.  The study includes a five-step process intended to guide other communities in implementing advanced and emerging technologies along and across the border.

As these studies demonstrate, OEC is committed to continuing to share lessons learned across border communities, as well as updating tools (e.g., National Interoperability Field Operations Guide) and technical assistance offerings.  Additionally, OEC is working on remaining challenges with border working groups, including the Canada-U.S. Communications Interoperability Working Group and the Southwest Border Communications Working Group.

To learn more about BIDP or to download the closeout report, studies, and other documents, visit the BIDP website at https://www.dhs.gov/border-interoperability-demonstration-project.  Please direct any questions or comments to BIDP@hq.dhs.gov.

June 11, 2018
1:49 pm

On May 24, 2018, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Office of Emergency Communications (OEC) hosted the State, Local, Tribal, and Territorial Officials Governance Guide Working Group in preparation for updating the Emergency Communications Governance Guide for State, Local, Tribal, and Territorial Officials (the Governance Guide). This document was last revised and published in 2015. During the meeting, working group members began the process of conducting an in-depth review and revision process of the 2015 guide.

Meeting

Led by the chair, Mr. Dan Martinez, and Mr. Cary Martin, OEC Program Manager, the working group discussed the methodology of data collection and analysis conducted by OEC for information that will be included in the 2018 SLTT Governance Guide.  This collection includes, but is not limited to: interviews, case studies, and subject matter expert analysis. 

The working group’s focus in revising the 2015 SLTT Governance Guide is making the 2018 SLTT Governance Guide a user-friendly document that will provide recommended guidance for SLTT governments on:

  • Coordination of Resources
  • Establishing Funding and Sustainment Policies
  • Developing Partnerships
  • Building collaborative governance structures

With an emphasis on the following capabilities of emergency communications:

  • 911, E911, and NG911
  • Land Mobile Radio
  • Broadband Capabilities- including FirstNet
  • Alerts, Warnings, and Notifications
  • Critical Infrastructure Communications/NGO Communications
  • Information Flow Management
  • Cybersecurity across all lanes
  • Training and Exercises

The working group will meet again via webinar and conference call in the coming weeks to continue the effort to revise the 2015 Governance Guide.

Participation and Meetings

The SLTT Working Group meets every three weeks, with our next meeting scheduled for June 12, 2018.  We are currently seeking to expand our working group membership. If you, or a representative from your agency would like to participate in the working group, please email us at slttgovguide@hq.dhs.gov

To read about the working groups previous meetings:

May 3, 2018        https://www.dhs.gov/safecom/blog/2018/05/29/sltt-governance-guide-working-group-meeting-3

April 12, 2018     https://www.dhs.gov/safecom/blog/2018/04/30/sltt-governance-guide-meeting-2

March 29, 2018  https://www.dhs.gov/safecom/blog/2018/04/04/2018-sltt-governance-guide

May 29, 2018
10:14 am

Author: Robin Beatty, Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Office of Emergency Communications (OEC), and Cary Martin, DHS OEC

On May 3, 2018, the DHS OEC hosted the State, Local, Tribal, and Territorial Officials Governance Guide Working Group in preparation for updating the Emergency Communications Governance Guide for State, Local, Tribal, and Territorial Officials (the Governance Guide). During the meeting, working group members began the process of conducting an in-depth review and revision process of the 2015 guide.

In-Person Meeting

An in-person working group meeting location was identified and agreed upon by the working group members, to occur during the week of September 10-14, 2018 in Shawnee, Oklahoma.  Special thanks to the working group member Mr. Tim Zientek of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation for volunteering to host the meeting. We look forward to a very productive meeting.

Revision Process Initiated

Participants of the working group provided in-depth discussions in a live information capture forum, providing input and changes for the new 2018 Governance Guide.  Topics that were discussed included:

  • Grant funding
  • Technology
  • Communication efforts
  • Involvement between State and Tribal communities
  • Enhanced Tribal governance guidance
  • Evolution of governance body over the next 5-10 years
  • Challenges in formalizing governance structures

The working group will meet again via webinar and conference call on May 24, 2018 to continue the effort to revise the 2015 Governance Guide.

Participation

We are currently seeking to expand our working group membership. If you, or a representative from your agency, would like to participate in the working group, please email slttgovguide@hq.dhs.gov

To read about the working groups previous meetings:

April 12, 2018:     https://www.dhs.gov/safecom/blog/2018/04/30/sltt-governance-guide-meeting-2

March 29, 2018: https://www.dhs.gov/safecom/blog/2018/04/04/2018-sltt-governance-guide

May 25, 2018
10:03 am

Author: Emergency Communications Preparedness Center Grants Focus Group

Following the release of the FY 2018 Consolidated Appropriations Act, the Department of Homeland Security Office of Emergency Communications (OEC) and the Emergency Communications Preparedness Center (ECPC) Grants Focus Group worked with federal granting agencies to update the FY 2018 List of Federal Financial Assistance Programs Funding for Emergency Communications Federal Funding Opportunities. This List includes program descriptions, available funding amounts, application deadlines, and links to federal agency websites for additional information. OEC and ECPC will continue to maintain and update the List on the SAFECOM website as new programs are announced throughout the year.

Please reference this List to anyone requesting additional sources of funding for emergency communications projects. For more information, please contact the ECPC at ECPC@hq.dhs.gov.

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