Friday, December 24, 2004

Communications Needs Remain Despite New Statewide System in Maine: "The new system is welcome, as it greatly enhances the state's communications capabilities as well as its overall responsiveness with respect to routine public safety and homeland security operations. But it is important that Mainers understand that the statewide installation of a new radio network will not solve the problem of interoperability by itself. It is essential for first responders in particular to know that the unified incident command structure that guides and supports them includes a robust and mobile communications infrastructure, sufficient redundancy, interoperability and a set of accepted protocols. All of that has yet to be accomplished."

Saturday, December 18, 2004

Westport (CT) debates communications regionalization: "Westport's police and fire chiefs spent two hours explaining to town legislators Thursday the pros and cons of Westport becoming part of a regional emergency communication center. The upshot: fire is all for it, but the police are not. "

Friday, December 10, 2004

Executive Office of the Governor: "JACKSONVILLE - Governor Jeb Bush today announced a contract to provide Florida's law enforcement and first responders with an interoperable radio network. Through this contract, the Florida State Technology Office (STO) will establish a radio network that will enable first responders and law enforcement using different radio systems and frequencies, throughout the state, to communicate with each other."

Monday, December 06, 2004

Blogger: Tour - What's a blog?: "A blog is a personal diary. A daily pulpit. A collaborative space. A political soapbox. A breaking-news outlet. A collection of links. Your own private thoughts. Memos to the world."

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Nevada ramping up with NGA Interoperability Efforts: "Sheriff Tony DeMeo was one of nine Nevadans selected to participate in the Emergency Response Communications Academy. According to a statement from Gov. Kenny Guinn, Nevada was chosen of one of five states to have a role in the so-called 'Public Safety Wireless Communication Interoperability Academy,' sponsored by the National Governors Association and the Center for Best Practices."

Monday, November 15, 2004

Communication awry in public safety: "No one knows how much fixing the problem will cost or how long it will take to do it, said George Foresman, [VA] Gov. Mark R. Warner's assistant for commonwealth preparedness.

'Everybody wants done today what it took 20 years to do in information technology,' Foresman said last week. 'We are 10 years, I believe, from [a solution] most people will consider appropriate.

'The reason has nothing to do with money, turf or people,' Foresman said. 'You don't reform three levels of government, the private sector, and multiple agencies overnight.'"

Thursday, November 04, 2004

Panel: Interoperability About People More Than Technology: "There is a long way to go to resolve interoperable communications problems for first responders, with technology being the last and the least worrisome problem to solve, according to federal and local officials and public policy experts at an event sponsored by the New Millennium Research Council in Washington."

Sunday, October 31, 2004

Grant will boost crisis communications : "CHARLOTTE, N.C. - The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department was awarded a $6 million grant to create an emergency communications network with 11 area N.C. and S.C. counties. The project will allow for real-time communications between first responders in the event of a natural disaster, homeland security issue or other emergency. "
Kentucky's First Responders: Removing Interoperability Barriers: "Kentucky's Executive Director of Homeland Security, Erwin Roberts, is working with KWIEC and the Commonwealth Office of Technology to get the most out of federal dollars now coming into Kentucky for homeland security. According to Roberts, 'The solution we envision will be addressing the needs of both local first responders and state agencies. And it's more than purchasing equipment that can provide for effective communication. The effort to help make Kentucky safer is requiring all first responders to see themselves as one team and be open to the idea of adopting shared ideas and common ways of planning and communicating.'"
Homeland Security tech spending on the way up (10/26/04): " ... The science and technology division also will receive $11 million for SAFECOM, a wireless initiative created to ensure that firefighters and other first responders have equipment that can 'talk' across jurisdictions during emergencies. The spending bill further includes $15 million for the National Incident Management System to coordinate first responders and federal officials. First responders recently expressed concerns about federal funding for NIMS, an unrealistic deadline, poor access to training, the lack of a well-defined model for an interdisciplinary emergency system, and the ability of responders' equipment to communicate across jurisdictions."
Raytheon JPS Communications and Nextel Advance Radio Systems Interoperability (10/27): "Nextel and Raytheon JPS today announced a strategic alliance to break down the barriers of communication between disparate radio systems, enabling interoperability between systems that were previously incompatible. Working together, the companies are improving communications capabilities across a range of government and business needs - from emergency situations for first responders to field service operations for utilities and manufacturers."
Warner outlines Virginia communications plan: "Virginia Gov. Mark Warner announced this week the state's plan to achieve communications interoperability, including specific goals for state and local public safety officials to speak and work with one another. Starting with a strategy for the next two years, the plan sets four high-level goals with corresponding initiatives and performance measures to help ensure that the initiatives achieve the goals and people understand the plan, according to the report."

Thursday, October 21, 2004

UASI:Miami - FL Region 4 AAR: "An after action report on Hurricane Charley, including discussion on communications aspects."

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Federal grant to improve public safety links: "COUNCIL BLUFFS - Omaha and Council Bluffs firefighters working together on a fire will be able to talk directly with each other, rather than passing messages between dispatchers, within the next two years if all goes well. "
Bringing broadband to public safety: "Public safety communications is a hot topic in local communities and is a touchy subject on Capitol Hill. However, Washington, D.C., officials are now leading the way on one solution that has national support - a wireless broadband network for public safety officials. But all parts of the federal government must support that approach for it to be successful. District officials developed a citywide 700 MHz broadband network, known as the Wireless Accelerated Responder Network (WARN), under an experimental license from the Federal Communications Commission."
Virginia Gov. Announces New Interoperability Plan: "Today Gov. Mark R. Warner announced Virginia's interoperability plan. The strategic plan was drafted by Virginia first responders and approved by the governor earlier this month. The Department of Homeland Security's SAFECOM, the federal entity charged with improving radio communication among first responders nationwide, has also indicated that it will be using Virginia's statewide strategic plan as a model for best practices for other states to follow when conducting communications planning."

Friday, October 15, 2004

NMRC 'Blueprint for Action' to Improve Communications Interoperability, A Valuable Resource for Department of Homeland Security: "In support of the Department of Homeland Security's new Office of Interoperability and Compatibility (OIC), the New Millennium Research Council (NMRC) today releases a 'roadmap' document that can be used by the OIC to set priorities and assess solutions to address the nation's communications interoperability crisis. Nine leading experts from government and academia, including the director of the SAFECOM Program at the Department of Homeland Security, David G. Boyd, and the director of Homeland Security and Justice Issues at the Government Accountability Office, William Jenkins, Jr., outline how best to resolve the major obstacles impeding first responder communications interoperability."
Homeland security CIO to gain funds, clout: "Homeland Security Department CIO Steve Cooper stands to gain a fourfold budget increase and new control over critical programs as a result of the homeland security appropriations bill Congress approved earlier this week. Details of the reshaped DHS budget have been trickling out since the Senate cleared the conference report on the bill by voice vote Monday and sent it to President Bush's desk. Homeland Security Department officials declined to comment on the shift of funds and power to the CIO office, saying they are still reviewing the legislation. The bill calls for Cooper's budget to increase from about $65 million to $275.3 million."

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Interoperability in Virginia: "Virginia is currently developing a Statewide Interoperability Strategic Plan to ensure that localities, state agencies, and federal agencies work together to improve interoperability. The development of this plan is only the first step. The involvement and leadership by localities is the driving force that will make this effort a success."

Saturday, September 25, 2004

Cincinnati COPS ICTP Grant: "The news that Cincinnati is getting nearly $6 million to upgrade communication equipment has at least one Northern Kentucky fire chief beaming. 'I am ecstatic that my friends from the city of Cincinnati got this grant,' Covington Fire Chief Joe Heringhaus said. The reason for Heringhaus' joy is that the grant money stands to directly benefit his and seven other Northern Kentucky cities. "

Thursday, September 16, 2004

Pennsylvania Releases Results of Radio System Review: "The Rendell Administration today [9/9] released the results of an independent review of the Statewide Public Safety Radio System along with the Administration's comprehensive plans for addressing issues identified in the review that will affect the system's successful completion. The review, conducted by public safety communications consultant iXP Corp., found that although the project has challenges to overcome, the technology will work and the Commonwealth should continue to move forward."

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Panel reviews integration of communications systems: "[SAFECOM] accomplishments include the RapidCom Initiative, which provides training to 10 urban areas in how to respond to emergency situations. The program is a 'catalyst for these areas to begin to institutionalize routine training and exercises, governance meetings, standard operating procedures, and more frequent use of interoperable communications,' [Dr. David] Boyd said. "

"SAFECOM expects to publish an architectural framework by the third quarter of fiscal 2005, Boyd said. It also closed a request for proposals period Tuesday for a means to develop an accurate assessment of the situation and expects to begin work no later than December, he said.SAFECOM expects to publish an architectural framework by the third quarter of fiscal 2005, Boyd said. It also closed a request for proposals period Tuesday for a means to develop an accurate assessment of the situation and expects to begin work no later than December, he said."
Experts Urge Leadership, Funding to Resolve National Communications Interoperability Crisis: "Rep. Bart Stupak (D-MI), a member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee and co-chair of the U.S. House Law Enforcement Caucus, today joined other experts at a New Millennium Research Council (NMRC) panel presentation in calling on Congress and the Administration to act now on public safety communications interoperability issues."
Kentucky Homeland Security Grants to Improve Communications: "Kentucky Governor Ernie Fletcher has announced that the majority of the FY2004 $35 million in Homeland Security grants that the state has received will be put towards improving communications for first responders and will bring Kentucky closer to having a statewide voice and date interoperable network."
Responders sound off: "State and local first responders and emergency officials said nationwide interoperable communications need sustained funding and attention from Congress."

Monday, September 06, 2004

Gaps in communication: "If the airliner hijackings of Sept. 11, 2001, drove a dagger into the nation's heart, the news that followed was a splash of salt on its wound."

Contra Costa Times does an in-depth review of communications interoperability. Despite conclusions about September 11th that may or may not be well founded, the reporters dive deeply into the subject.

Friday, September 03, 2004

Jackson County (MI) Emergency exercises: "... Radio communications, or interoperability, was identified as a shortfall in a county emergency needs assessment last year. For the terrorism exercise, participants relied on Nextel and state-police lent radios, which created a few hitches. ... If it went perfectly, it wouldn't have been an effective exercise because we wouldn't have learned anything,' said Lt. Steve Rand, Emergency Management Section director. "

Thursday, September 02, 2004

Michigan State Police & Project Management: "Costly IT project failures are expensive and all too common. The Michigan State Police department is dealing with one potential problem by developing a Project Management Office and a funding template. It's hoped the template will solve a long-standing dilemma: IT projects often flop due to lack of foresight and failure to develop a funding stream that addresses long-term maintenance and upkeep issues. "
Panel OK's $12.2m for communications gear: "Concord, N.H. - A state advisory panel yesterday approved spending $12.2 million in federal homeland security funds to buy portable and mobile radios that would enable firefighters and emergency responders statewide to talk with each other and police. The Homeland Security Grant Review Board also unanimously voted to spend $600,000 in homeland security money to equip the state's 10 regional hazardous materials teams."
First responder network grows quietly: "Battelle Memorial Institute today demonstrated its Disaster Management Interoperability Service, a network backbone for connecting first responders that has quietly gained nationwide acceptance over the past year. The demonstration, in Arlington, Va., was part of a briefing on Battelle's research into biodefense technologies. More than 735 organizations have adopted DMIS, and a handful of states, including Connecticut, Florida and Maryland, have chosen to roll out the system statewide. According to Battelle officials, DMIS has been used in nearly 50 actual disasters, including Hurricanes Isabel and Charley. "

Monday, August 30, 2004

Franklin County (PA) struggles to define radio communications requirements anew: "Firefighters, police and other first responders expect to better handle emergencies with the new equipment because they'll be able to communicate directly with each other. Currently, radio communication across different agencies and municipalities is very difficult. There also are 'dead spots' where communication fails. "

Sunday, August 22, 2004

Public safety wireless experts talk the talk: Attention in the government technology arena has shifted gradually during the past decade to developing plans or business cases before any investments or implementation. This has been an attempt to leave behind the big-money failures and stand-alone systems that officials are now working to overcome. Public safety officials, who usually cross multiple levels of government and jurisdictions, must agree on the plans, and they are still working on that concept.

"The equipment itself is a means to an end, not the end, and the really important part is being able to establish what the needs are, what the gaps are, and those needs themselves follow from a command incident structure," said William Jenkins, director of homeland security and justice issues at the Government Accountability Office. "If that foundation is not laid out, the equipment is almost irrelevant because even if you have the right equipment...if I call it 'red channel 2' and you call it 'purple channel 5,' we don't realize we can talk to each other."

Jenkins testified last month about public safety interoperability before the House Government Reform Committee's National Security, Emerging Threats and International Relations Subcommittee.

Monday, August 16, 2004

Kentucky wants interoperability: "The Kentucky Governor's Office of Technology is considering a statewide public safety interoperability plan, including development of an architecture and standards to ensure that new wireless systems will interoperate. The Kentucky Wireless Interoperability Executive Committee will make recommendations to the chief information officer on strategic wireless initiatives for public safety voice and data communications interoperability. "
Homeland Security - Business is good: "GlobalSecure Holdings Ltd., a District-based private-equity investment firm that has bought three homeland security companies in the past year, last week wrapped up raising $23.5 million. Armed with this cash, it's aggressively searching for more companies in this field. "

Monday, August 02, 2004

Public safety wireless experts talk the talk: "'The equipment itself is a means to an end, not the end, and the really important part is being able to establish what the needs are, what the gaps are, and those needs themselves follow from a command incident structure,' said William Jenkins, director of homeland security and justice issues at the Government Accountability Office. 'If that foundation is not laid out, the equipment is almost irrelevant because even if you have the right equipment...if I call it 'red channel 2' and you call it 'purple channel 5,' we don't realize we can talk to each other.'
Jenkins testified last month about public safety "

Tuesday, July 27, 2004

Lawmaker calls for quicker communications upgrades: "The head of a House panel on national security on Tuesday said federal and state officials are moving too slowly to ensure that 'first responders' to emergencies have communications systems that enable them to talk to each other.

In a new report on first responders, the Government Accountability Office concluded that the main barrier to resolving wireless interoperability 'has been the lack of effective, collaborative, interdisciplinary and intergovernmental cooperation and planning.' "

Friday, July 23, 2004

Bill Would Create Information-Sharing Office In Homeland Security Department : "Legislation to create an Office of Information Sharing within the Department of Homeland Security was introduced in the Senate on Wednesday. The bill, known as the Homeland Security Interagency and Interjurisdictional Information Sharing Act of 2004, is sponsored by Susan Collins, R.-Maine, and Joseph Lieberman, D.-Conn., the chair and ranking minority member of the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee, which oversees government IT policy. The legislation also contains provisions to aid first responders in financing interoperable communications equipment. "

Thursday, July 22, 2004

High-tech tool improves incident planning and response for homeland security: "An enhanced high-tech, collaborative mapping tool is helping law enforcement and emergency management officials better coordinate event and incident planning and real-time response."

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

Safecom to assess public safety wireless communications: "Homeland Security Department officials expect to release a solicitation later this month related to a nationwide evaluation of public safety wireless communications."
Lawmaker calls for quicker communications upgrades: "The head of a House panel on national security on Tuesday said federal and state officials are moving too slowly to ensure that 'first responders' to emergencies have communications systems that enable them to talk to each other. "
Legislators charge DHS with public-safety interoperability coordination: "The Department of Homeland Security needs to step up and do a better job of coordinating public-safety interoperable communications, said Rep. Christopher Shays (R-Conn.), chairman of the House Government Reform national security subcommittee. "
Legislation Introduced to Help 1st Responders, Improve Communications: "Senate Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Susan Collins (R-ME) and Ranking Member Joe Lieberman (D-CT) today introduced the Homeland Security Interagency and Interjurisdictional Information Sharing Act, legislation to strengthen the nation's capabilities to prevent and respond to acts of terrorism. "
First-responder communications vulnerable: "(UPI) -- The terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, exposed major vulnerabilities in U.S. communications systems. First responders with incompatible radios could not communicate, cell-phone networks collapsed, and the New York Stock Exchange shut down."

Thursday, July 15, 2004

Emergency network has glitch-free debut: " UWIN - the acronym for Utah's Wireless Integrated Network - was the first major initiative announced by Gov. Olene Walker when she took office last November. At the time, she said it was an important step for Utah because it would bridge the communication gap between agencies at the state, federal and local level during an emergency. She called for the first phase of the project, a voice communications system, to be up and running by July 2004."

Tuesday, July 13, 2004

Consultants fault lack of planning in nightclub fire response: "PROVIDENCE, R.I. - An analysis of Rhode Island's emergency response to a nightclub fire that killed 100 people found significant problems in the state's readiness for a disaster, particularly with its capacity for communication between agencies and for marshaling resources. "

Wednesday, July 07, 2004 Funding & Finance: Federal Grants Applied to Interoperable Communications: "Over the last several months, I [Charles Werner] have received numerous questions about what interoperable communication solutions are eligible for grant funding. Vendors and emergency service agencies alike have asked this question. In order to get the straight scoop, I asked the Office of Project SAFECOM's Director David Boyd to help clarify this issue. SAFECOM is an E-Gov initiative created by the President's Management Council and provides grant guidance on these issues for state and local governments. The big question/controversial issue is the reference to P25 and does an interoperable solution have to be P25 compliant to be eligible for these funds. "

Monday, July 05, 2004

Some call for cheaper radio system: "LINCOLN - Nebraska could put an end to the stories told by state troopers, sheriff's deputies, rescue personnel and others of working the same border-to-border police chase or bank robbery investigation and being unable to radio each other. And it could do so for a fraction of what a new statewide radio system would cost, communication experts say. "

Friday, July 02, 2004

(GCN) GAO cites barriers in military communications: "The military saw marked improvements in its IT networks during recent combat operations in Kosovo, Afghanistan and Iraq. Still some barriers, including the lack of standardized interoperable systems and equipment, prevented those improvements from being even more striking, according to a General Accounting Office report released today [6/28]. "
Interoperability: good locally, bad on a bigger scale: Federal Computer Week reports on the U.S. Conference of Mayors survey - "Seventy-seven percent of cities nationwide report their police and fire departments have interoperable communication capabilities, while 74 percent report they can communicate seamlessly with neighboring first responder agencies, according to a new national report."

Thursday, July 01, 2004

The United States Conference of Mayors INTEROPERABILITY SURVEY: This recently released report summarizes findings from a survey of 192 cities across 41 states. Money is described as the biggest impediment to interoperability, though the cities' self-assessment is surprisingly positive.

Wednesday, June 30, 2004

News: Mayors Measure Interoperable Communication Between Cities, Regions, States and the Federal Government - Jun 29 2004 05:00AM: "The U. S. Conference of Mayors (USCM) recently released its 2004 Interoperability Report, which measures the reliability and effectiveness of communications systems between local city agencies and federal, regional, state and other local entities in responding to disasters. "

Saturday, June 26, 2004

News-Miner - Past News: "WASHINGTON--The U.S. Senate's annual defense spending bill proposes to put almost $30 million into a seamless radio system for federal, state and local agencies in Alaska."

Friday, June 25, 2004

House Committee on Energy and Commerce Hearing (6/23): "Protecting Homeland Security: A Status Report on Interoperability Between Public Safety Communications Systems"

Thursday, June 24, 2004

Report: Nextel to get 1.9 GHz airwaves: "Federal Communications Commission Chairman Michael Powell has recommended to fellow commissioners that the FCC award 10 GHz of spectrum in the 1.9 GHz band to Nextel Communications, the Wall Street Journal reported today. The award would be part of a deal that would require Nextel to reband 800 MHz airwaves to solve interference problems that plague public-safety communications. The other FCC commissioners are expected to unanimously approve the award, the paper said."

Thursday, June 10, 2004

From the Silver Bullet Hotline: "A 'smart bullet' that can be fired at a target and then wirelessly transmit back useful information has been developed by US researchers."
State CIOs take flight: "Progress has been made, but there are still serious gaps in first-responder communications, [Gerry] Wethington [Missouri CIO] said. In January, when a tanker truck fell off an overpass near Baltimore, first responders were confused about who was on the scene. "

Monday, June 07, 2004

DHS Fact Sheet: Regional Technology Integration Initiative: "The Department of Homeland Security, Science and Technology directorate, is implementing a new initiative for Regional Technology Integration (RTI) to facilitate the transition of innovative technologies and organizational concepts to regional, state, and local jurisdictions. Four urban areas across the country have been selected to be the initial pilot locations for this program. The Cincinnati, Ohio, urban area is one of these four. All of the selected regions are currently participating in the DHS Urban Area Security Initiative and have demonstrated a willingness and capacity to adopt advanced and innovative concepts for emergency preparedness and public safety. "

Friday, June 04, 2004

Congress heeds state issues: "As part of the National Association of State Chief Information Officers' fourth annual DC Fly-In, 15 state CIOs spoke to Congress about national issues such as communications interoperability, information security and state-specific topics. In the past, CIOs spent much of their time explaining the basic issues, but this year congressional members and their staffers not only understood basic IT concepts but also sought input."

Wednesday, June 02, 2004

Data sharing tops homeland security priorities: "When it comes to homeland security, the top concern among ordinary Americans dovetails with that of first responders: improving information and data sharing across law enforcement, health and emergency agencies, according to a new report released today by the Council for Excellence in Government."

Tuesday, June 01, 2004

Safecom chief defends program: "The leader of the federal government's wireless interoperability program said a recent General Accounting Office report criticizing its progress was completed before many program accomplishments were completed"

Saturday, May 29, 2004

Secretary Ridge's Remarks on the Council for Excellence in Government Report: "This Department is taking steps in the short term to fix the immediate communications problems that were dramatized at the Trade Center on 9/11. In the end, when we say 'interoperability' we are basically talking about a 'technology translator' -- the capability of first responders to communicate and understand each other regardless of technology, mode of communication, or frequency. Already, we have identified technical specifications for a baseline interoperable communications capability, so that first responders will have an interim way to talk to each other during a crisis. "
DHS - A Better Prepared America: A Year in Review: "The Department of Homeland Security is launching a new office for interoperability and compatibility that will coordinate communications interoperability, equipment and training compatibility between federal, state, and local governments. By coordinating and leveraging the vast efforts spread across the federal government, this office will reduce unnecessary duplication in programs and spending, and identify and promote best practices. "
Security budgets fail to keep pace with the increasing threat: "... In the House, Reps. Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.) and Jim Turner (D-Texas) have introduced a similar bill, the Connect First Responders Act. The proposal authorises $5 billion during the next five years to resolve telecommunications interoperability problems. The bill also creates a new office in DHS to focus solely on communications interoperability issues."

Friday, May 21, 2004

Nebraska Homeland Security Funding: "Nebraska Governor Mike Johanns has announced the distribution of $19-million to local communities as part of the 2004 Homeland Security grant allocations. The focus of this year's grants is on communications and improving local, regional and state interoperability."

Thursday, May 20, 2004

Dems back DHS wireless office: "House Democrats introduced a bill today that would establish a wireless communications office within the Homeland Security Department and a $5 billion grant program to help first responders become interoperable."

Sunday, May 16, 2004 Why emergency responders still can't communicate with each other (5/24/04): "More than two years after the terrorist attacks of 9/11, emergency response agencies around the nation still can't talk to each other in a crisis. New York is a case in point. The city's police and fire agencies still aren't communicating, even though their inability to work together on 9/11 contributed to the deaths of firefighters when the second tower of the World Trade Center collapsed."

Tuesday, May 11, 2004

County considers several radio options: "Though the switch is on for a state-operated public safety radio tower in Jackson (MI), county officials are not ready to fully connect, especially when mulling over upgrades to its own dispatch system. "

Sunday, May 09, 2004

DHS Deputy Secretary James Loy before the House Select Committee on Homeland Security, May 6, 2004: "The Directorate of Science and Technology (S&T) within DHS has been tasked to lead the planning and implementation of the Office of Interoperability and Compatibility (OIC) in coordination with other DHS programs. By coordinating and leveraging the vast efforts spread across the federal government, OIC will reduce unnecessary duplication in programs and spending, identify and promote best practices, and coordinate federal activities related to research and development, testing and evaluation, standards, technical assistance, training, and grant funding related to interoperability."

Friday, May 07, 2004

FCW - Homeland security with a regional flavor: "The Kansas City, Mo., Regional Homeland Security Coordinating Committee lives up to the regional part of its name. It covers two states, eight counties, more than 1.9 million people and even brings Washington, D.C., into the picture because critical parts of the federal infrastructure are housed there."
FCW - Firm resolve but no easy resolution: "Lawmakers and others are pressuring federal officials to address long-standing homeland security problems, from a lack of communications interoperability to mistaken admission of criminals into the country and inadequate federal agency plans to operate effectively after a catastrophic event. "

Saturday, May 01, 2004

Federal interagency radio pilot hits airwaves in Seattle: "The Integrated Wireless Network would be a common radio network capable of handling voice, data and multimedia for all federal law enforcement, first-response and homeland security agencies."

Monday, April 26, 2004

DHS Releases Interoperability Requirements for Nation's First Responder Community: "The U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Science and Technology Directorate today announced the release of the first comprehensive Statement of Requirements (SoR) document outlining future technology requirements for public safety wireless communications and interoperability. The SoR can be found at"

Tuesday, April 20, 2004

Kentucky Wireless Interoperability Legislation Passes: "Kentucky House Bill 226 has been signed into law by the governor. The bill requires the chief information officer to establish and implement a statewide public safety interoperability plan. The plan must include the development of required architecture and standards to ensure that new or upgraded public safety systems will interoperate. "

Monday, April 19, 2004

Secretary Ridge's Remarks at Radio-Television News Directors Association and Foundation: "[T]he Department will work to strengthen vertical communication systems and significantly increase protections around our nation's most vital assets--our bridges and water supplies, telecommunications and cyber-systems, chemical and nuclear facilities, hospitals and laboratories, food processing systems and more. We will establish secure, real-time communications between all 50 states and the territories, install secure videoconferencing to all Governors' offices, and identify technical specifications to establish baseline interoperability of communications for first responders."

Sunday, April 18, 2004

GAO: Project Safecom Making Limited Progress : "The GAO, the investigative arm of Congress, cites two main reasons for the project's limited progress: lack of consistent executive commitment and support and an inadequate level of interagency cooperation. In its 2-1/2-year history, Project Safecom has had four management teams in three different agencies. Though the current team is laying the foundation for future interoperability--including establishing a governance structure that emphasizes collaboration with stakeholders and developing guidance for making grants that can be used to encourage public-safety agencies to plan for interoperability--it has yet to reach written agreements with several major stakeholders on their roles in the project or establish a stable funding mechanism, the GAO said. The major stakeholders include the departments of Agriculture, Defense, Energy, Health and Human Services, Justice, and Interior. "
GAO calls for formal Safecom deals: "For now, the program appears to have found significant executive support within its new home at DHS' Science and Technology Directorate. However, the program office is still working to address GAO officials' primary concern: that there aren't many written formal agreements between the office and its federal partners, and of the few that are in place, some do not have established goals and performance measures."
GAO: Project Safecom going nowhere fast: "A government initiative to improve communications among first responders at the federal, state and local levels 'has made very limited progress,' according to a report released today [4/16/04] by the General Accounting Office. "

Monday, April 12, 2004

GCN on enterprise architectures: "...a basic structure or design for all the agency's real-world businesses, such as licensing or law enforcement, related information flows and the technologies that handle them. It's an exercise in system design and analysis, more than anything, and is meant to ensure that components cooperate and share data. "
D.C. government to test broadband wireless technology: "The pilot network, based on Flarion's proprietary flash-orthogonal frequency division multiplexing (OFDM) technology, will use 10 transmission sites to provide citywide coverage for first responders needing to access the network in the field. "
Harris County SO (TX) installing 1XRTT: "The new wireless system will replace an existing CDPD solution and help officers in this region expand their capabilities to retrieve critical information in the field with high-speed CDMA2000 1X technology from Sierra Wireless. "
MeshNetworks announces City of Garland (TX) replacement for CDPD: According to the company, Garland represents the first and largest deployment for public safety.

Wednesday, April 07, 2004

Progress toward [AZ] statewide emergency response: "State officials say they are making slow but steady progress toward a statewide emergency communications system that would allow different agencies to communicate with one another during a major crisis. "
Integrators see opportunities in communications interoperability: "While many technology companies struggle to crack the market for interoperable communications in public safety and homeland security, integrators such as EDS are finding success by expanding work with existing government customers. In many cases, these companies are testing new solutions in proof-of-concept demonstration projects."

Saturday, April 03, 2004

800 MHz interference and interoperability - FCC testimony before Congress: "The 800 MHz band issue was raised by Chairman Frank Wolf (R-Va.) but Wolf confused it with the public-safety interoperability issue, causing Powell to try and explain the similarities and differences between the 800 MHz public-safety interference problem and the inability of public-safety agencies to talk with each other during periods of crisis. "
Arizona responders seek public safety communications funding by law: "Funding for the First Responders Bill would come from a surcharge on satellite TV companies that take money out of Arizona but don't contribute anything to the public safety of our state. The surcharge, however, wouldn't apply in those areas where satellite is the only option for subscription television."

Wednesday, March 31, 2004

Sioux City Journal: Tri-state public communications plan progressing: "The three are designing and building STAR Comm using a $6 million Federal Emergency Management Agency grant. In its first phase, the project consists of six radio towers and other infrastructure needed to allow all emergency responders in their three counties to communicate. "
Nation a Mix of Anxiety, Concern and Calm When it Comes to Homeland Security: "When asked to prioritize measures to promote homeland security, first responders rated emergency response equipment training first among their priorities, selected by 51 percent, followed by the two areas selected as most important by citizen respondents: interoperability, selected by 34 percent of first responders; and tighter borders, selected by 25 percent of first responders. "

Tuesday, March 30, 2004

Acquisition Solutions wins IWN acquisition support job: "The wireless network, a joint initiative between the Justice, Homeland Security and Treasury departments, will be a consolidated nationwide wireless service for voice, data and multimedia communications. IWN will allow for interoperability between state, local and federal law enforcement and homeland security organizations."

Monday, March 29, 2004

Can you hear me now?: "Homeland Security Department officials are preparing to unveil the first major contract to coordinate public safety wireless communications efforts across the government."

Friday, March 26, 2004

Welcome to the SAFECOM Program: "Recent emergencies have demonstrated the importance of coordination among local, tribal, state, and federal public safety
officials at the incident scene."

Wednesday, March 10, 2004

Safecom to seek demonstration projects: "The Homeland Security Department's Safecom program will release a broad agency announcement in the next 30 days for demonstration projects in wireless communications interoperability, an agency official said. "
Turbo Codes Trip the Spectrum Fantastic: French electrical engineers have developed a digital coding scheme providing data rates near the theoretical limits. Ramifications for wireless communications are substantial. Transmitter power, noise, and relatively narrow channels make wireless a particularly challenging medium.

Tuesday, March 09, 2004

DHS to tie grants to interoperability standards: "The Homeland Security Department plans to require state and local governments seeking grants to adhere to technical standards and protocol to ease voice and data interoperability at the state and local level, said Steve Cooper, DHS chief information officer. ... 'Even more important than technology standards are the processes and procedures related to interoperability,' Cooper said."
DHS announces NIMS (3/1): "U. S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge today announced approval of the National Incident Management System (NIMS), the Nation's first standardized management plan that creates a unified structure for Federal, state, and local lines of government for incident response."
DHS prepares to consolidate wireless communications efforts: The Homeland Security Department is on the verge of creating a program management office for interoperable wireless communications, officials said Monday.

Monday, February 23, 2004

DHS Establishes Priorities for Second Year: "Drawing from the strategic plan, the Secretary has identified seven key priorities for the second year of the department. Each of the priorities includes specific actions that the department is committed to achieve by March 1, 2005."

Saturday, February 21, 2004

DHS to start wireless pilot projects: "The Department of Homeland Security will call for industry to propose innovative wireless interoperability solutions through a broad agency announcement to be issued at the end of March, said Rick Murphy, program manager for Project Safecom. "

Wednesday, February 11, 2004

We have to talk: "On Monday in Grand Island, a town hall meeting was held at City Hall to discuss a proposal before state lawmakers that could go a long way in improving communication for public safety providers in Nebraska."

Sunday, February 08, 2004

Getting in touch: Should the city and county merge dispatch operations?: The City of Springfield (OH) and surrounding jurisdictions consider the costs and benefits of shared systems.

Saturday, February 07, 2004

Military Information Technology: "The Global Information Grid (GIG) Architecture is the Department of Defense's enterprise architecture that will break down the communications, interoperability and security barriers to information dominance."

Monday, January 26, 2004

First responder report due in spring: "By early spring, the federal government hopes to release a sweeping document that catalogs the priorities of first responders based on various national reports and surveys that have been published previously.

'We solicited information from them to identify reports that we had not found and insight into what is most useful in a final report,' said Richard Jacques, a senior program manager with the National Institute of Justice, adding that facilitating communications interoperability was 'at the forefront of the minds' of most survey participants."

Monday, January 19, 2004

SAFECOM Absorbs PSWN: "The Public Safety Wireless Network, a joint program between the Treasury Department and the Justice Department and a valuable resource on interoperable communications for state, local and tribal communities, has officially been folded into Project SafeCom."

Sunday, January 11, 2004

I-CLEAR is on the way: "The Chicago Police Department (CPD) and the Illinois State Police (ISP) have been working over the past year to develop a partnership that will significantly impact the quality of public safety. This partnership seeks to leverage the existing financial, technological, and human resources of the CPD and the ISP to develop a system for the collection, maintenance, and dissemination of criminal justice data in Illinois."

Thursday, January 08, 2004

InfoWorld: Interference questions dog broadband over power lines: "The Amateur Radio Relay League (ARRL), a national ham radio association, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency are among the organizations that have raised concerns with the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) over possible short-wave radio interference caused by broadband over power lines, often called BPL."
Focusing on what works: Stefano Mazzocchi blogs interesting comments on protocol, data, and metadata interoperability with web services. It leads to further thinking on radio communications interoperability.

Service-oriented architectures in the computer world presage what will occur in public safety communications - with voice, data, and hybrid networks. The importance of context in making data into information cannot be overstated, particularly when the compressed timeframes of emergencies turn the floods of normally consumable information back into incomprehensible streams of data.

Very much similarly, voice communications over radio break down when human receivers get overwhelmed by context switching - not to mention simple auditory overload. Our efforts to improve public safety communications interoperability will soon bring us to a saturation point where information degrades back into data and, in a radio way of thinking, just contributes to raising the "noise floor" competing with what we really need to hear.

Metadata is key in establishing context, in providing raw materials for creating consumable information. It's also needed for intelligent routing of communications. We can dream of a day when sufficient metadata passes with two-way voice streams to allow networked-based routing, rebroadcast, and multicast options during police, fire, and EMS operations so that we don't just have more, we have better.

Friday, January 02, 2004

SEARCH - 2004 Interoperable Communications Technology Training Program: Sponsored by the U.S. Department of Justice COPS Office, this technical assistance conference is designed to educate 2003 Interoperable Communications Technology COPS and FEMA grant recipients about planning, acquiring, implementing and integrating technology for interoperability projects. It is only open to grantee teams.