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mapping tools, federal border support activities, and the processes for instituting new arrangements in place of outdated communications protocols.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.