Blog

December 11, 2018
2:33 pm

Authors: Cary Martin and Robin Beatty, Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security (CISA),  Emergency Communications Division

Since March 2018, representatives from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) Emergency Communications Division (ECD) and the State, Local, Tribal, and Territorial (SLTT) Governance Guide Working Group worked diligently to update the Emergency Communications Governance Guide for State, Local, Tribal, and Territorial Officials (the Governance Guide), last released in 2015. The Governance Guide aims to provide a resourceful, multifaceted framework that empowers 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.

The efforts of the working group are coming to an end as the Governance Guide nears completion and is submitted for approval of CISA Assistant Director for Emergency Communications, Ron Hewitt; the working group chair, Dan Martinez; SAFECOM Chair Gerald Reardon; and the chair of the National Council of Statewide Interoperability Coordinators (NCSWIC), Nikki Cassingham.

Meeting

During the working group meeting that took place on November 1st 2018, Mr. Cary Martin recapped the objectives that were established for the SLTT Governance Guide. These included:

  • Provide SLTT governing bodies with user-friendly information for creating and managing an emergency communications governance structure 
  • Incorporate the expertise of the working group comprised of federal and SLTT emergency communications experts
  • Highlight tribal emergency communications best practices, lessons learned, capabilities, partnerships, funding opportunities, and challenges
  • Address the following capabilities of an interoperable emergency communications enterprise:
    • 911, Enhanced-911, and Next Generation-911
    • Land Mobile Radio
    • Broadband Capabilities-FirstNet
    • Alerts, Warnings, and Notifications
    • Cybersecurity
    • Training and Exercises
    • Private Sector and NGO coordination

The Working Group members reviewed the latest draft and adjudicated comments from the in-person meeting in Shawnee, Oklahoma, held on September 11, 2018. Following this discussion, the working group discussed next steps for completing the document. 

Next Steps

  • The SLTT Governance Guide draft will be presented to and voted on by the SAFECOM and NCSWIC Executive Committees
  • The SLTT Governance Guide is expected to be published December 2018
  • The final Working Group meeting will be scheduled for January 2018 via webinar, date TBD
     

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

 

Read about previous Working Group meetings on the SAFECOM Blog:

September 11, 2018: /safecom/blog/2018/09/27/sltt-governance-guide-working-group-meeting-9

August 30, 2018: /safecom/blog/2018/09/24/sltt-governance-guide-working-group-meeting-8

June-July 2018: /safecom/blog/2018/08/17/sltt-governance-guide-working-group-meetings-5-7

May 24, 2018: /safecom/blog/2018/06/11/sltt-governance-guide-working-group-meeting-4

May 3, 2018: /safecom/blog/2018/05/29/sltt-governance-guide-working-group-meeting-3

April 12, 2018: /safecom/blog/2018/04/30/sltt-governance-guide-meeting-2

March 29, 2018: /safecom/blog/2018/04/04/2018-sltt-governance-guide

 

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

www.dhs.gov/safecom

December 11, 2018
2:29 pm

Communication resiliency is an important aspect of an organization’s mission-critical operations.  Complete end-to-end network resilience is difficult to achieve, but an organization can greatly improve “always available” communications by identifying and mitigating resilience issues through a self-assessment of its local access network.  As such, the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) Emergency Communications Division (ECD) is pleased to announce the Public Safety Communications Network Resiliency Self-Assessment Guidebook, a comprehensive guide for government and public safety entities that: 

  • Offers instructions for how to assess resiliency of a public safety communications network  
  • Describes common critical resiliency gaps in public safety networks
  • Proposes mitigation solutions for assured communications in stressed network environments
  • Demonstrates a proven methodology for data gathering, connectivity mapping, and analysis

CISA ECD recommends use of the Guidebook for organizations performing resiliency self-assessments of their critical facilities. The Guidebook was approved by SAFECOM and National Council of Statewide Interoperability Coordinators (NCSWIC) in July 2018.  It is the companion document to the Public Safety Communications Resiliency – 10 Keys to Obtaining a Resilient Local Access Network.  For an overview of both documents, please visit the Resiliency Fact Sheet.  CISA ECD has been performing resiliency assessments since 2002, and the Guidebook, “10 Keys”, and the Fact Sheet documents were developed by CISA ECD subject matter experts leveraging years of experience helping organizations increase resiliency.

Although the Guidebook focuses on the diversity component of public safety communications resiliency, CISA ECD has found that self-assessments often uncover physical, operational, and cyber risks not associated with routing.  In these instances, CISA ECD recommends that risks be documented and appropriate solutions identified, including those available via DHS’ wide array of mitigation tools and capabilities detailed in the Guidebook.   

For additional information on the Guidebook and other matters related to public safety communications resiliency, please contact CISA ECD at OEC@hq.dhs.gov.

December 7, 2018
2:14 pm

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

The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency hosted the SAFECOM and the National Council of Statewide Interoperability Coordinators (NCSWIC) meetings December 3-6, 2018, in Norman, Oklahoma. Over 150 SAFECOM, NCSWIC, and several federal partners participated, representing federal, state, local, and tribal public safety organizations.

SAFECOM Members
SAFECOM Members

Events kicked off on Monday with the Communications Task Force, Next Generation 911 (NG911) Working Group, and Funding and Sustainment Committee.

On Tuesday, SAFECOM launched the first SAFECOM School, which hosted an orientation for new members. Simultaneously, Nikki Cassingham, Oklahoma Statewide Interoperability Coordinator (SWIC), led the NCSWIC meeting and NCSWIC Executive Committee (EC) meetings, where members discussed information interoperability, changes to the National Incident Management System (NIMS) Incident Command System (ICS), and the FEMA One Responder Network demonstration. At the NCSWIC meeting, Cassingham announced her resignation. During the EC meeting via special election, Joe Galvin, Illinois SWIC and NCSWIC Vice Chair, was nominated and elected as the new Chair and John Miller, New Jersey SWIC, was nominated and elected Vice Chair.

Wednesday, kicked off the joint SAFECOM and NCSWIC meetings, where Deputy Assistant Director for Emergency Communications Vince Delaurentis noted, “SAFECOM and NCSWIC continue to play a critical role in securing the homeland through emergency communications interoperability as our environment continues to become more complex and dangerous. The strategic discussions and information sharing among Statewide Interoperability Coordinators and SAFECOM Members has positioned these national governance groups to execute a comprehensive work plan in the year ahead.”

SAFECOM and NCSWIC received updates from Crisis Emergency Response and Recovery Access (CERRA), disaster emergency communications response, a progress update to the 2019 National Emergency Communications Plan, as well as updates from federal partners from the Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate, the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet). Members also met in their committees, including: governance; education and outreach; technology policy; and planning, training, and exercise.

Thursday culminated with the SAFECOM and SAFECOM EC meetings led by SAFECOM Chair, Chief Gerald Reardon of the Cambridge Fire Department. Members received updates on others’ experience in the field, including Chris Lombard, Seattle Fire/The Interagency Board, and his response to the recent hurricanes as well as advanced technology to include data interoperability, transitions from land mobile radio (LMR) to long term evolution (LTE) design comparison, and NG911. SAFECOM also held elections and unanimously reelected Chief Reardon as Chair and Michael Murphy as Vice Chair.

Chief Reardon and Joe Galvin concurred when stating, “The leadership and members of both SAFECOM and NCSWIC applaud the recent reorganization of the Office of Emergency Communications (OEC) to the Emergency Communications Division (ECD) as part of newly formed Cyber and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA). This new alignment will better support the critical work our emergency responders are charged with across the country, and the communities they serve. Having ECD as a direct report level at CISA will support that effort as we collectively move forward to protect our nation.”

 

September 28, 2018
2:42 pm

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Office of Emergency Communications (OEC) reestablished the Rural Emergency Medical Communications Demonstration Project (REMCDP) grant to work with a public health or medical facility to examine communications barriers and identify solutions that enhance existing emergency communications infrastructure.  The REMCDP Notice of Funding Opportunity was open on www.grants.gov from July 10, 2018 through August 10, 2018. 

Following a merit review process, DHS awarded $2,000,000 to the University of Mississippi Medical Center (UMMC) for a 2-year period of performance beginning October 2018.  UMMC will use REMCDP funds to continue its First Hands training program, which combines medical and Land Mobile Radio (LMR) communications education and exercises to empower first providers giving medical aid.  Planned deliverables include the development of a just-in-time training and operational platform, a refresher program for graduates of the First Hands program, and a companion course for public safety communicators entitled First Voice.  REMCDP lessons learned will be shared with other communities to serve as a repeatable model for addressing rural population healthcare needs.

Additional information about REMCDP can be found on www.dhs.gov/remcdp.

September 27, 2018
12:17 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 members of the State, Local, Tribal, and Territorial (SLTT) Officials Governance Guide Working Group are working to update the 2015 Emergency Communications Governance Guide for State, Local, Tribal, and Territorial Officials (the Governance Guide).

On September 11, 2018, the Working Group held a meeting at the Citizen Potawatomi Nation in Shawnee, Oklahoma. The purpose of this meeting was to review the first draft of the 2018 Governance Guide. OEC and Dan Martinez, Working Group Chair, led meeting participants in reviewing the draft 2018 Governance Guide. Participants reviewed the draft 2018 Governance Guide to pinpoint the strengths, weaknesses, and gaps in the document; and to ensure it addressed the needs of communications governing bodies across the SLTT spectrum. The Working Group’s feedback will be incorporated into the final version of the 2018 Governance Guide. Image of Meeting 9 Participants

Participation and Meetings

The next Working Group meeting is scheduled for October 25, 2018 via webinar. OEC is nearing the end of the data gathering process; however, if you would like to submit additional information on successes and challenges in emergency communications governance for possible inclusion in the 2018 Governance Guide, please email us at slttgovguide@hq.dhs.gov.

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

August 30, 2018:  https://www.dhs.gov/safecom/blog/2018/09/24/sltt-governance-guide-working-group-meeting-8

June-July 2018: https://www.dhs.gov/safecom/blog/2018/08/17/sltt-governance-guide-working-group-meetings-5-7

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 please visit the SAFECOM website: https://www.dhs.gov/safecom/blog

September 24, 2018
10:29 am

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 members of the State, Local, Tribal, and Territorial (SLTT) Officials Governance Guide Working Group are working to update the 2015 Emergency Communications Governance Guide for State, Local, Tribal, and Territorial Officials (the Governance Guide). During the meeting on August 30, 2018, the Working Group discussed the upcoming in-person meeting and the path forward for completing the first draft of the 2018 Governance Guide.

During the National Tribal Emergency Management Council Conference in Spokane, Washington on August 22-24, 2018, OEC representatives collected information on technological gaps, challenges, and lessons learned in emergency communications. The information gathered during this meeting will be incorporated into the 2018 SLTT Governance Guide. The key takeaways from the meeting include:

  • Collaborative relationships based on trust are critical to the success of tribal public safety communications, response, recovery, and resource sharing
  • Relationships must be established BEFORE an event occurs to ensure strong partnerships through training, planning, and coordination
  • Tribes requested the tribal information be incorporated throughout the 2018 SLTT Governance Guide and not assigned to a separate chapter

Participation and Meetings

The next Working Group meeting is scheduled for October 25, 2018 via webinar. OEC is nearing the end of the data gathering process; however, if you would like to submit additional information on successes and challenges in emergency communications governance for possible inclusion in the 2018 Governance Guide, please email us at slttgovguide@hq.dhs.gov.

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

June-July 2018: https://www.dhs.gov/safecom/blog/2018/08/17/sltt-governance-guide-working-group-meetings-5-7

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 please visit the SAFECOM website.

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.

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