Tuesday, April 18, 2006

IG sees flaws in DHS' approach to interoperability standards: "The Homeland Security Department is not expected to adopt its first standard for interoperable, digital, wireless communications for first responders until the end of 2007 — more than six years after the Sept. 11 attacks, according to a new report from DHS inspector general Richard Skinner. "

Sunday, April 16, 2006

FEMA Not a First Responder, Says Paulison : "With the latest predictions indicating another active hurricane season in 2006, the Federal Emergency Management Agency is preparing with what it describes as 'a renewed sense of commitment, improvement and urgency.' And at the 28th National Hurricane Conference held April 10-14 in Orlando, Fla., FEMA Acting Director R. David Paulison described the upcoming hurricane season as “a defining moment in emergency management. Above all, however, Paulison emphasized that effective emergency management requires a team approach, and that FEMA is not a first responder. 'The first response belongs in the hands of those closest to the incident, those state and local officials who are putting together the evacuation plans and shelter locations and educating their residents on when to evacuate, where to go and what to do,' he said."

Saturday, April 15, 2006

The Marines Discover Tactical Communications: "The US Marine Corps Systems Command, Quantico, VA awarded Motorola in Columbia, MD a $76 million firm-fixed-priced, indefinite-delivery /indefinite-quantity contract for 60,000 Integrated Intra Squad Radios (IISR) and associated items.

As National Defense Magazine's September 2005 issue notes, the Corps realized it lacked small squad-level communications for urban operations after the invasion of Iraq. Marines liked the British Army's 'personal role radio' and bought 10,000 Selex PRRs from Britain's war reserve. The PRR is a small transmitter-receiver similar to civilian two-way radios, which allows infantry soldiers to communicate over short distances."

Friday, April 14, 2006

NACo Launches Public Safety Communications Project: "NACo recently received a $1 million grant from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and, with the funds, will offer a series of intensive policy academies on public safety communications and interoperability for local officials over the next two years.

The training is made possible through a funding agreement with DHS' SAFECOM Program Office, which works with federal, state and local public safety agencies to improve emergency response through more effective and efficient interoperable wireless communications."

Monday, April 10, 2006

Project MESA reaches a Crossroad: "Project MESA, which stands for Mobility for Emergency and Safety Applications, was launched nearly six years ago as a collaborative effort between the U.S. and Europe public-safety sectors to identify and create common specifications for the next generation of first-responder communications systems. With progress being sluggish at best, a Project MESA working group meeting this month in Boston could determine whether the effort will die should vendors fail to step up with technology proposals soon.

“We, as users, have gotten to a point where we can't do anymore without input from vendors,” said Philip Kidner, chairman of MESA's systems specification group."
Exercise aims for interoperability with DHS first responders: "The scene of a terrorist attack or a large-scale natural disaster, experts agree, is no place for technology specialists from different response agencies to begin coordinating communication efforts.

“The time of an incident,” said Air Force Col. Babette Lenfant, director of communication systems for the Joint Task Force Civil Support, “is not the time we want to be exchanging business cards with the National Guard and saying, ‘Here, this is what I do.’ ”

Various military services, the Department of Homeland Security and first responders such as police and fire departments are getting better acquainted with each other’s communications systems during the Defense Department’s Interoperability Communications Exercise. "
Public Safety Project To Target Local Elected Officials: "The National Association of Counties (NACo) recently received a $1 million grant from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to conduct a series of intensive policy academies on public safety communications and interoperability over the next two years."

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Justice DOD better prepared to share information for '06 hurricane season: "With approximately 60 days before the start of the next hurricane season, Congress is questioning whether agencies are in better shape to share information this year. Rep. Tom Davis, chairman of the Government Reform Committee, asked agency officials whether the government has sufficiently learned the lessons from Katrina and Rita.

“How can we avoid the inadequate information sharing and murky situational awareness that characterized the governmental response to Katrina?” the Virginia Republican asked. “The committee is interested in learning about whether there is a need for additional legislation, guidance, procedures or resources to facilitate the information sharing priorities…”

And while the Homeland Security Department declined to testify about its preparations and improvements, other key agencies, including the Defense and Justice departments, said things are getting better and they are better prepared."