Friday, February 25, 2005

Gov. Warner Announces Grants to Upgrade Virginia's First Responder Radio Systems: "Governor Mark R. Warner yesterday announced that Virginia is allocating $2.16 million in federal funding to 27 localities to support local interoperable communications projects and initiatives. This funding was awarded to Virginia by the federal Office of Domestic Preparedness (ODP) and the National Institute of Justice (NIJ), and will be received by the localities in the coming two weeks.

The State Interoperability Executive Committee (SIEC) evaluated 62 local grant proposals that competed for up to $100,000 each, which includes 20 grant proposals that will be funded through a $1.7 million award from ODP. The Executive Committee also identified eight localities to receive a total of $460,000 in funding from the NIJ for local interoperability demonstration projects.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

DHS favors easing deadline on state security funds (2/22/05): "The Homeland Security Department would like to ease a stringent deadline for states to disburse federal funding to local communities for counterterrorism activities, a department official said Tuesday. 'We're trying to get away from' the 45-day deadline for states to distribute the funding, David Boyd, director of wireless communications activities at the department, said at a homeland security conference. He added that lawmakers are 'intensely interested' in the requirement, but the department believes careful planning by states over the fiscal year is necessary before sending the dollars to local firefighters, police officers and other emergency 'first responder' groups.

Also on Tuesday, Boyd made a plea to industry representatives to create information technology systems with 'open architectures' and without proprietary standards. 'If you don't, we'll have to,' said Boyd, who oversees the department's SAFECOM project to ensure that public-safety officials can communicate across jurisdictions. He also stressed that emergency responders need 'voices first' technology rather than data and imagery devices. 'A firefighter is not going to read' a handheld device while standing in a burning building, Boyd said. He said the first priority for emergency responders is communicating 'with their own troops' and the second is talking across jurisdictions. Boyd argued that federal agencies have to observe local rules and existing systems because 90 percent of wireless communications equipment is bought at the local level."

Saturday, February 19, 2005

States still working on communications: "A new survey indicates that significant challenges remain in communications interoperability and development of centers to collect, analyze and share intelligence data among the 55 U.S. state and territorial governments . Officials have been working to prepare first responders to respond to terrorist attacks, establish homeland security and statewide emergency operations centers, and develop mutual aid agreements with other states. But the survey released this week by the National Governors Association's Center for Best Practices indicates that although statewide interoperability remains a top priority, getting the necessary equipment and technology remains a challenge. About 73 percent of state officials are still working on statewide interoperability, while 22 percent have achieved it, according to the report."

Friday, February 11, 2005

Department of Homeland Security FY 2006 Budget: "The Office of Interoperability and Compatibility (OIC) within the S&T Directorate will allow the Department to expand its leadership role in interoperable communications that could be used by every first responder agency in the country. The OIC has currently identified three program areas: communications, equipment, and training. With $20.5 million in FY 2006, the OIC will plan and begin to establish the training and equipment programs, as well as continue existing communication interoperability efforts through the SAFECOM Program."

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

News: Florida Counties Talk on Interoperable Network During Emergency: "The state of Florida's new Interoperability (IO) Network successfully assisted first responders in rapidly responding to a fire in Putnam County on January 25, 2005. During the first unplanned use of the IO network, fire-rescue stations from Putnam County were dispatched to a residential fire and explosion in the western region of the county. Realizing the need for mutual aid, Putnam County Fire Rescue needed to contact Alachua County immediately. "

Sunday, February 06, 2005

Safecom SCIPs across states: "Federal officials unveiled a model plan yesterday that state officials can use to build grass-roots statewide interoperable communication networks. Officials for the Homeland Security Department's Safecom Program released the Statewide Communications Interoperability Planning (SCIP) methodology proposal, based on a statewide plan that Virginia agencies unveiled last October in their drive to create a network for all law enforcement agencies and jurisdictions."
New Jersey Interoperability: "New Jersey Attorney General Peter C. Harvey has appointed Raymond J. Hayling II as the state's first Chief Public Safety Communications Officer, a position designed to improve and coordinate New Jersey's public safety communications planning, funding and interoperability systems."
Virginia homeland security official details priorities: "Virginia's top priority is making sure communications among the state, local and federal government and the private sector are linked 'because, at the end of the day, our ability to prevent, respond and recover is largely dependent on our ability to communicate."