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Southwest Border Communications Working Group (SWBCWG)

Southwest Border Communications Working Group (SWBCWG)

By Robin Beatty, DHS OEC SWBCWG Federal Lead

On April 12, 2016, the SWBCWG held an in-person meeting in San Antonio, Texas, hosted by the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) Statewide Interoperability Coordinator’s office. The meeting was held in conjunction with the Border Security Expo to provide meeting attendees the opportunity to participate in the event while in the San Antonio area.

Participant discussions focused on building partnerships, identifying best practices and lessons learned for border region communications, and sharing information regarding key regulatory issues impacting public safety communications along the Southwest Border. DPS shared information about its public safety communications resources and recent activities. DPS is working to enhance intersystem connectivity and support inter-region/intra-state interoperability through feasibility studies and coordination with major public safety systems operators across the state to evaluate a systems-of-system approach. DPS recently developed the Cross Border Security Network (CBSCN) Texas Use Cases, in partnership with the Office of Emergency Communications (OEC), Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Office of Information Technology (OIT), and the City of Pharr, Texas, which assess communications capabilities in the Rio Grande Valley area in support of Operation Secure Texas. As a result of these Use Cases, DPS is pursuing submission of an application to connect to the CBSCN.

U.S. Coast Guard representatives shared information regarding the types of communications support and resources the Communications Command Mobile Contingency Communications (MCC) West can offer to support mobile communications. MCC West supports military and public safety interoperability and is working to identify opportunities to develop and promote this support as much as possible. MCC West resources, which are available on both the west and east coasts, include mobile incident command post and communications vehicles, portable antenna towers, satellite units, network and radio equipment, and Secure Internet Protocol Router Network (SIPRNet) equipment.

Participants confirmed open working group communities, such as the SWBCWG, continue to be critical points of coordination and information sharing, assisting in overcoming challenges when establishing and maintaining federal, state, local and tribal partnerships. Participants indicated a desire to serve as outreach ambassadors for the SWBCWG with the hopes of increasing the positive impact as a result of the SWBCWG success to-date. To that end, the SWBCWG is creating an ambassador outreach program to empower members to share SWBCWG information with colleagues and peers, expand membership and collaboration, and enhance communications operability and interoperability along the Southwest Border.

The next in-person meeting of the SWBCWG will be held on September 1, 2016, in Phoenix, Arizona.  For more information about the SWBCWG or the next in-person meeting, please send an email to SWBCWG@hq.dhs.gov.

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