Jamming of communications systems – including jamming of GPS, radio and wireless systems – poses a threat to law enforcement and public safety across the country. Jammers may interfere with public safety communications and can leave responders without vital communications and critical situational awareness. Proliferation of these devices may delay emergency response times, escalate hazardous situations, facilitate illicit activities or result in loss of life. Federal law prohibits the operation, manufacture, sale, marketing, importation, distribution or shipment of jamming equipment.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) is resolute in making first responders safer and more aware of jamming and its potential impact to their communications, safety and ability to execute their mission. DHS S&T is working to combat jamming threats by evaluating the threat, developing and testing mitigation technologies and strategies, working with public safety agencies to update training procedures, and raising awareness of jamming threats and characteristics, which may not be widely understood by the public safety community. In 2016, DHS S&T held the First Responder Electronic Jamming Exercise to assess the impact of jamming on public safety communications systems and mission response, and identify gaps in training, techniques and procedures.
Following the success of the 2016 exercise, the 2017 First Responder Electronic Jamming Exercise (JamX 17) will assess technologies and tactics to help first responders identify, locate and mitigate the impact of jamming threats. As an outcome, DHS S&T will provide robust recommendations to law enforcement and public safety to improve their resiliency to jamming threats. The Department’s objective is to enable federal, state and local operators to recognize, respond to, report and resolve jamming incidents without compromising the mission or endangering communities.
The First Responder Electronic Jamming Exercise Program is part of the Next Generation First Responder (NGFR) Apex program which develops tools that first responders need to remain safe and connected while responding to emergencies.
- Snapshot: S&T Helps First Responders Mitigate Potential Jamming
- Blog: Keeping Communication Lines Open
- News Release: DHS S&T Assesses Mitigation Tactics against Jamming
- News Release: DHS S&T Working to Combat Electronic Jamming
- JamX 2017
DHS S&T explored jamming vulnerabilities in responder communications systems. In July, the 2017 First Responder Jamming Exercise (JamX 17), which took place at the Idaho National Labs in Idaho Falls, Idaho, focused on evaluating solutions to increase communications resiliency by helping responders recognize, respond to, report and resolve jamming incidents. Watch as first responders explain the importance of mitigating potential jamming incidents while out in the field.
- 2016 First Responder Electronic Jamming Exercise
In July 2016, S&T assembled first responders and communications technicians from across the country to explore the effects of radio frequency interference on emergency communications. The exercise at the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico gave participants firsthand experience dealing with intentional interference (jamming) in operational situations and spurred discussions of how to counter it through improved communications procedures.
- Photos: 2016 First Responder Electronic Jamming Exercise
- Infographic: DHS and Federal Communications Commission Joint Jammer Infographic