Monday, August 29, 2005

Google IM Not Talking to Other Jabbers: "Google's much anticipated open standards-based IM client has launched, but apparently without support for interconnecting with other users on non-Google, open-source Jabber servers. The beta version of the IM service, called Google Talk, uses the Jabber XMPP (define) protocol, which is supposed to allow for easy interoperability between other Jabber XMPP servers and users."
Funding levels to help emergency systems 'talk' differ (8/17/05): "The House and Senate must negotiate a significant gap in funding for a new security initiative to help emergency responders across state and federal jurisdictions talk to each other. The House in May endorsed a $30.8 billion spending measure for the Homeland Security Department for fiscal 2006 that includes $41.5 million for the new interoperability and compatibility office. The Senate, which passed a similar version of the appropriations bill in July, backed only $15 million for the office. President Bush requested $20.5 million. The two chambers plan to negotiate the final number this fall.

Despite cutting $5.5 million from Bush's request, Senate appropriators conceded in their committee report on the spending bill that the 'lack of true interoperability within public-safety communications remains a critical stumbling block to effective response in multi-discipline, multi-jurisdictional emergencies.' The Senate cut funding for several Homeland Security programs to direct more resources toward countering weapons of mass destruction and bolstering border security."
Next-gen telecom brings bounty to vendors and local governments: "State and local governments are beginning a major retooling of their telecom infrastructures, replacing legacy systems, boosting connect speeds and, with an array of state-of-the-art wireless devices, untethering deskbound civil servants. When complete, the upgrades are meant to let local governments rapidly respond to terrorist threats and improve e-government services to citizens. Vendors and system integrators that win contracts to design and install these systems will be key players in local governments' planned transformation. According to Jim Krouse, manager of market analysis for IT research firm Input Inc. of Reston, Va., governments' adoption of wireless and voice over IP technologies 'will change the dynamics of the market in the next three years. Telecom markets [will move] into one of the most dynamic periods in their history ... Systems integrators are in an excellent position for significant work.'"
9/11 Tapes Reveal Communications Chaos: "A court ordered release of the New York City Fire Department radio communications from the events of September 11, 2001 revealed 15 hours of horrific chaos, confusion and frustration. Congressman Bart Stupak (D-MI), who introduced the Public Safety Interoperability Implementation Act, expressed sympathy for those who lost their lives as a result, but also stressed the need for essential funding to ensure critical communications investments occur to prevent such outcomes."
New Jersey's Interoperability Communications System Helps Secure Transportation During Orange Alert: "The New Jersey Interoperability Communications System (NJICS) provided inter-agency communications for over 15 agencies activated as a result of the Orange alert response for New York and New Jersey transportation systems said Chief Raymond Hayling of the New Jersey Attorney General's Office today.

Hudson County's Rapid Deployment Team, which is comprised of law enforcement officers from over 15 agencies, was deployed to over 10 crossings between New York and New Jersey. These deployments included working with the U.S. Coast Guard to protect and patrol the waterways between New York City and several Hudson County locations. Managing communications between 15 different agencies can be challenging, however, the NJICS supported the entire operation and made communications seamless."
Center for Digital Government: "New Strategy Paper From the Center for Digital Government Examines the Need for Federal, State and Local Governments to Create Safer Communities Through Mutual Aid and Critical Communications Interoperability

Community emergencies -- from wild fires and floods to accidents and acts of terrorism -- underscore the importance of mutual aid among law enforcement and other responding agencies. The decades-old practice of mutual aid is rooted in the historic American ethic of 'neighbors helping neighbors.' The prospects for modern mutual aid are often frustrated by the inability of neighbors to talk to each other. At issue is the lack of interoperability among dissimilar communications systems used by various agencies. The need for multi-agency coordination and interoperability, where public safety officials can share information in a secure, real-time digital environment, is the subject of a new strategy paper from the Center for Digital Government, 'Getting the Green Light: Safer Communities Through Mutual Aid and Critical Communications Interoperability.'"
Interoperability pays, in more ways than one: "DENVER--It may not be happening as quickly as many had hoped, but there is growing evidence that Department of Homeland Security (DHS) funding is reaching communities to pay for better and interoperable communications.

Denver--host to this year's Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials (APCO) annual conference--is a prime example, as area communities have received $30 million in DHS funding. The Denver area's success in securing this money has been largely attributable to the communities' willingness to work together, as federal directives have made it clear that homeland-security projects that include cooperative efforts should be moved to the front of the funding line.

With this in mind, Denver-area public-safety entities have formed a regional group that identifies and prioritizes projects to be submitted for grants, most of which do not require entities to provide local matching funds, said Dana Hansen, superintendent of communications for the Denver police department."

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Illinois firefighters go high-tech: "Orland Fire Protection District's emergency responders are testing state-of-the-art technology aimed at improving communication among first reponders. The district is the first service agency in the nation to implement the Motorola Fireground Communications System. Firefighters recently tried out the system at the district's 163rd Street training center. The equipment includes 35 portable radios that can be configured to relay information to display on laptop computers each firefighter's name, sector assignment and riding position."
North Smart radios to the Rescue!: "A group of developers at Stevens Institute's Wireless Network Security Center recently came up with a potential solution they hope to market through a start-up called Attila Technologies, LLC.

It's essentially a super-powered cellphone. Known as an intelligent radio, or software-defined radio, the units are able to scour the airwaves and find unused frequencies, switching to another frequency if the airwaves become crowded.

The Attila radio 'allows you to find what [portion of the airwaves] is available to transmit over,' said Helena Wisniewski, Attila's chairman and vice president of Stevens' technology initiatives office."

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Maine prepares for the worst: "Maine has identified a number of ways in which it can substantially improve its emergency communication system, a process that has been underway since the ice storm of 1998, with added momentum since 9/11. However, much more remains to be done before a new 21st century network emerges. In this series, I will examine how much progress has been made, and what lies ahead."
Raytheon Awarded Contract Valued Up to $6.6 Million to Support the Fire Department of New York in Modernizing Incident Command Systems: "Raytheon Company has been awarded a contract by iXP Corporation to design and develop the Portable Electronic Command Board System (PECB) program that will overhaul the Fire Department of New York's (FDNY) manual command boards by using wireless technology. The PECB will enable FDNY commanders to quickly and efficiently manage firefighters, equipment, emergency medical teams, and other emergency personnel during emergency situations. Raytheon's portion of the contract is valued at up to $6.6 million over the three-year life of the contract."