Monday, December 17, 2007

Congressman Questions PSST Relationships with Advisors: "House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Henry Waxman wrote FCC Chairman Kevin Martin requesting details about the relationship between the Public Safety Spectrum Trust (PSST) and the for-profit entities that are serving as PSST advisors.

The PSST, a nonprofit corporation, is expected to oversee the creation of a nationwide interoperable wireless broadband network for public safety. Waxman urged greater transparency regarding the PSST’s relationships with outside parties, although he made no accusations of wrongdoing."
Municipal Wi-Fi needs a paradigm shift: "The new ABI Research report, “Municipal Wireless”, examines the current state of municipal Wi-Fi networks, assessing technology evolution, current market challenges and possible solutions. More than 400 cities in the United States have planned municipal Wi-Fi networks, but after a honeymoon period there is a widespread perception, fueled by media reports of high-profile problems, that the concept is fundamentally flawed.

According to a new study from ABI Research, there is a disconnect between that media-driven gloom and the reality on the ground. Municipal Wi-Fi can be a success, if its goals and business models are redefined."
National Information Exchange Model (NIEM) Leadership: "Denis Gusty has been appointed cochair of the NC&OC. In this role, Mr. Gusty is responsible for managing communications regarding NIEM and supporting active engagement by a broad array of users and practitioners. Mr. Gusty serves as the Acting Director of the Command, Control and Interoperability Division’s (CCI’s) Office for Interoperability and Compatibility (OIC). In addition, he leads OIC’s Disaster Management program, which aims to improve incident response and recovery by developing tools and messaging standards that help emergency responders manage incidents and exchange information in real time."
Massachusetts Statewide Communications Plan Initiated: "Gov. Deval Patrick and Secretary of Public Safety and Security Kevin Burke have announced the creation of a new Statewide Communications Interoperability Plan designed to address critical communications needs of first responders. The plan is Massachusetts' first comprehensive statewide strategy and enables state and local emergency response agencies and other key stakeholders to effectively exchange communications and data, particularly during emergencies. The Executive Office of Public Safety and Security has submitted the plan to the U.S. Department of Commerce. Once the plan is approved, the Commonwealth will receive as much as $21 million in federal interoperability grants."
DHS Announces Director of the Office of Emergency Communications: "The Department of Homeland Security announced today the selection of Chris Essid as Director of the Office of Emergency Communications within the department's National Protection and Programs Directorate. In his new position, Essid will guide the department's policies, programs, and activities promoting emergency response communications for federal, state, local, and tribal governments.

Essid brings considerable interoperable communications expertise to the department and joins DHS from the Virginia Governor's Office of Commonwealth Preparedness, where he served as the state's first Interoperability Coordinator overseeing initiatives to improve interoperability at federal, state, and local levels of government."

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

DHS Announces Director of the Office of Emergency Communications: "Dec 10, 2007, The Department of Homeland Security announced today the selection of Chris Essid as Director of the Office of Emergency Communications within the department's National Protection and Programs Directorate. In his new position, Essid will guide the department's policies, programs, and activities promoting emergency response communications for federal, state, local, and tribal governments. Essid brings considerable interoperable communications expertise to the department and joins DHS from the Virginia Governor's Office of Commonwealth Preparedness, where he served as the state's first Interoperability Coordinator overseeing initiatives to improve interoperability at federal, state, and local levels of government."

Monday, November 19, 2007

Mobile Command Vehicle Operators of the World, UNITE!: "For many agencies, receiving interoperable communications equipment only replaces one problem with another. Yes, they now have the equipment they need to communicate with other responders on different bands and using different radio equipment. However, having such equipment doesn't automatically make a department's personnel knowledgeable in using it. Besides, even when the techs have read the manuals, the equipment tends to stay in the box until a crisis hits."
Interoperability Grant Meeting in Missouri: "The state's Chief Interoperability Officer Jim Lundsted convened an all-day planning session Monday, Nov. 5, in Jefferson City with public safety communications representatives from each of the nine Regional Homeland Security Oversight Committees (RHSOC) and the two Urban Area Security Initiatives (UASI) of Kansas City and St. Louis.

'The purpose of the meeting was to brief the communications reps from around the state on requirements of a $17 million federal grant available to Missouri and for me to gain insight as to how best invest this one-time grant money,' Lundsted said."

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Sometimes, even at 800 MHz, no one in Anderson County can hear you scream: "ANDERSON COUNTY, S.C. — On the Smith-McGee Bridge at the Georgia border, the radios in Sheriff David Crenshaw’s car are dead. Once he turns right off Sara Simpson Road, onto S.C. 181, within 15 feet, the 800-megahertz radio in the car beeps to let him know he’s back in range and back in communication with Anderson County dispatch. His UHF/VHF radio works now as the crackle of another call lets him know where emergency personnel are needed. Dead spots such as this one are at the center of a decision to spend more than $8 million to join with the Palmetto 800 communications system and upgrade communication between emergency personnel."

Monday, October 29, 2007

APCO Data Interoperability Grant: "The Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials (APCO) International, in partnership with the IJIS Institute, was awarded a $450,000 grant from the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) under the U.S. Department of Justice's Edward Byrne Memorial Discretionary Grants Program. IJIS and APCO submitted the grant proposal for the development of a joint Public Safety Data Interoperability program."

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Virginia to Establish Tactical Communications: "Governor Timothy M. Kaine today announced that the Commonwealth of Virginia has received a $1 million federal Byrne Grant to upgrade tactical communications capabilities. The grant was secured by the Rapid Deployment Solutions Interoperability Project (RDSIP), a public-private partnership between the Commonwealth and Sprint."

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Chandramouli leads DoJ-funded project exploring dynamic spectrum access for public safety: "The National Institute of Justice, which serves as the research and development arm of the US Department of Justice, has awarded a three-year project grant to Dr. Rajarathnam Chandramouli, Thomas E. Hattrick Chair Associate Professor of Information Systems in the Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering at Stevens Institute of Technology. Chandramouli will serve as Principal Investigator of the project, titled, “Cognitive radio protocols and platform for dynamic spectrum access in public safety bands.”"
Need For Emergency Data Standardization - Government Technology: "The National Emergency Number Association (NENA) and the COMCARE Emergency Response Alliance outlined their shared vision for next generation emergency communications in a letter addressed to Denis Gusty, the Disaster Management Program Manager at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Office for Interoperability and Compatibility. Representatives from NENA and COMCARE called on DHS to lead the development of a next generation emergency data standardization project that would facilitate the exchange of data from a wide variety of emergency information sources."

Wednesday, September 12, 2007 | Improvements For Area Fire Departments Since Sept. 11: "Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Chief Ronald Mastin says there has been great progress on building on regional cooperation since the attack at the Pentagon six years ago. While thought of as a successful operation, reports found there was room for improvement in communications and interoperability. Northern Virginia fire departments have been working together on a daily basis for more than 30 years. Some of what those departments have learned is helping pave the way for the future. D.C. Fire and EMS now has a Fire Operations Center that helps with coordination and communications for major emergencies and special days like Tuesday. In operation Tuesday, the center kept up on intelligence briefings and monitored emergency calls. " Bay Area Cities Unveil Emergency Communications System: "Different Bay Area police and emergency agencies are a step closer to being able to communicate with each other during an emergency. It's something called interoperability, and not having it is a real problem. Imagine the challenge when a cop in San Francisco can't use the radio to talk with an officer in Oakland. Oakland Police dispatchers currently can communicate with some jurisdictions, but in a widespread emergency the ability to talk directly to everyone affected would be essential. 'We're here today to say that we all get it,' said Oakland mayor Ron Dellums. Public safety officials from San Jose to San Francisco gathered at Treasure Island to recall the lessons of 9/11 and Katrina, as well as Loma Prieta and the East Bay hills firestorm."

Saturday, September 08, 2007

City disappointed in pace of Wi-Fi network setup: "In the wake of Chicago's decision to call off its municipal Wi-Fi plan, officials in Aurora are turning critical of the recurring delays in setting up their own wireless network. It's been nearly a year since California-based MetroFi began installing Wi-Fi antennas on light poles across the city. It is now September 2007, the month during which city officials predicted the network would be completed. According to those same officials, MetroFi has only installed 149 of the 600 to 900 antennas that will make up the finished network."
Input: Heavy spending ahead for public safety interoperability: "State and local governments will spend an estimated $5.5 billion on interoperable public safety communications between 2007 and 2012, including $3.4 billion from federal sources, according to a new report from Input Inc."
Bapco Journal: interoperability - the case for ensuring joined-up communications: "In an exclusive article for the BAPCO Journal, Dave Rogers, Airwave's fleetmapping consultant & interoperability adviser, discusses the potential benefits of communication between Britain's emergency and council services

For central and provincial governments alike, the ability to communicate has always been vital for the dissemination and enforcement of power. Without his whistle, the 'bobby peeler' was an individual, effectively helpless in the face of even moderately concerted resistance. The whistle elevated the policeman to become part of a much larger whole and criminals knew that once it had sounded, any numerical advantage would soon come to an end. In short, it is the ability to communicate effectively that allows modern, social institutions to function as a cohesive unit."
Virginia Tech Reports on IT Performance During Shootings: "An internal review of Virginia Tech's information and communications infrastructure in the wake of the April shootings found that the campus telecommunication systems were 'dramatically stressed during the initial response period but performed adequately,' according to a report in The Roanoke Times. .... The report said that local cellular networks became congested and blocked calls during the initial response period to the shootings, according to the Times. It also found 'deficiencies in interoperability and coverage of police, fire, and rescue radio communications.' "

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Bridge crash report lists radio problems -- Chesapeake Bay: "Rescue workers from five state agencies were unable to communicate with each other by radio when they responded to a fatal crash on the Chesapeake Bay Bridge in May, though officials said command procedures in place mitigated the issue.

'We're not aware that it materially affected the incident,' said John Contestabile, the Maryland Department of Transportation's director of engineering and emergency services. Battalion Chief Michael Cox, a spokesman for the Anne Arundel County Fire Department, said rescue workers from his county and from Queen Anne's County had radios that used the same technology.

Although the state agencies didn't, commanders were able to manage the response by using protocols developed after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, Cox said. Representatives from each agency assembled at a command post so that decisions made there could be communicated to all rescue workers in the field, Cox said."
FCC continues debate over public safety network: "At a conference of public safety groups earlier this month, Federal Communications Commission Chairman Kevin Martin said the FCC’s decision to authorize a nationwide wireless broadband network for first responders is historic. But he also pointed out that rules are not yet set for how that network will be shared with commercial providers and possibly other public safety networks."

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Appropriators question funding for emergency wireless project: "The integrated wireless network, known as IWN, is currently one of the most expensive items in Justice's information technology basket and it is at high risk of failure, the report stated. Unless the deficiencies are addressed, such a system 'may not be developed and the resulting separate agency communications systems may not be adequate in the event of another terrorist attack or natural disaster.'

The House-passed appropriations bill, H.R. 3093, would fund the project at $81.3 million -- the same as the agency's budget estimate. But the Senate measure, S. 1745, would provide $76.3 million. The program got $89 million in fiscal 2007.

In the Senate committee report, lawmakers expressed concern about 'lagging progress, as well as the recurring costs of the conversion' to narrowband operations. The panel also noted that an aging infrastructure has been an impediment to implementation."

Friday, August 10, 2007

Burbank, Glendale Seek Link: "BURBANK — The future of a multi-agency response system in Burbank and Glendale is safe, even as Los Angeles County is pursuing a countywide network of its own. Conflict arose earlier this year as it became apparent that Burbank, Glendale and four other cities participating in the Interagency Communications Interoperability System, known as ICIS — which allows public safety departments to communicate across jurisdictional lines — were competing against the county for federal funding. advertisement

While county officials are seeking money for a planned network — called the Los Angeles Regional Interoperable Communications System — local system participants are also vying for federal help to finance maintenance and upgrades for an infrastructure that has been in place since 2003. That bred uncertainty among legislators in Washington, D.C., as competing requests came in from county and local officials pursuing similar technologies with similar goals in the same area."
Virginia to Cache First Responder Radio Systems - Government Technology "Virginia Gov. Timothy M. Kaine today announced that the commonwealth will establish three strategic radio caches in Chesapeake, Fairfax County, and the Harrisonburg region to improve the state's ability to establish communications in the wake of a disaster or other large-scale emergency."

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Missouri law enforcement agencies will get funding: "SIKESTON — Local law enforcement agencies are among those receiving federal Law Enforcement Terrorism Prevention Program Interoperable Communications Grant funding but have not yet received official word along with how much they will get."

Monday, July 23, 2007

Homeland defense: Network system is broken: "The Pentagon’s ability to help civil authorities respond to a disaster or terrorist attack is hobbled by a “fractured national communication system” that remains an impediment six years after the Sept. 11 attacks, the nation’s homeland defense leader said this week.

Testifying before the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs on Thursday, Air Force Gen. Gene Renuart said communications problems make it more likely federal forces will be needed in a regional disaster.

“Whether responding to a disaster of natural or manmade origins, collaboration among interagency partners at all levels of government is built upon the cornerstone of communications,” Renuart said.

But six years after communications breakdowns kept rescuers in the dark on Sept. 11, “our nation continues to struggle with two distinct communications issues: interoperability and survivability,” he said."
Homeland Security chief defends timing of communications grants: "Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff on Wednesday defended the government's timeframe for issuing nearly $1 billion in grants to bolster emergency communications.

'We've been funding these kinds of things for years,' Chertoff said, noting that federal money has been flowing to build a system that can communicate across jurisdictions since 2002, one year after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in New York City, Pennsylvania and Washington, D.C. 'I think it would be wrong to suggest that somehow we've been sitting on our hands for five years when we've built an awful lot of this system already."
Finding a Signal - Helena IR: "By all accounts, Augusta’s first responders cover a wide swath of terrain that stretches east and west from the Continental Divide to Cascade County, and north and south from the Sun River to Highway 200. Covering several hundred square miles, it’s one of the largest and more rural districts in Lewis and Clark County. It’s also one where radio and cell-phone coverage can be spotty, posing a challenge to first responders."
Bapco Journal: UK police radio communications standard begins roll-out: A new national standard for radio communications, known as AirwaveSpeak will begin roll-out to the police service in the England, Wales and Scotland. AirwaveSpeak is part of a broader strategy by the National Policing Improvement Agency (NPIA) to assist police forces to increase efficiency, enhance interoperability and support frontline policing.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Firefighters Rip Giuliani, Call Him 'Urban Legend': "The International Association of Firefighters has gone on the offensive against 'America's Mayor' Rudy Giuliani, releasing a 13-minute video that viciously rips into the former New York mayor, who has been using his leadership demonstrated on September 11th to urge people around the country to support him in his quest to become President of the United States."

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Inside Bay Area - Skeptics question radio network - "HAYWARD (CA)— Proponents of a regionwide public safety radio network like to use the two antennae high atop Walpert Ridge as a Tower of Babble-like metaphor for the Bay Area's communication problems.

One tower belongs to Alameda County, the other to the city of Hayward. But because they serve incompatible systems, their close proximity doesn't help when a county deputy wants to radio a message to a city police officer. ... Before they solve the technological problem, organizers of the proposed new government network, to be called the East Bay Regional Communications Authority, are having a tough time getting through the political one. More than 30 local governments in Alameda and Contra Costa counties are being asked to commit some money and agree to a joint powers authority that is being questioned for its vagueness."
Uncle Sam Gets A (Second) Life - Government - "The Department of Homeland Security also said it might set up a [Second Life] virtual island for the Safecom program, which is an integration and engineering project for connecting wireless first-response system across federal, state and local agencies. This comes a couple of years after the private island named "Response" was created in Second Life to simulate emergency response behavior to threats. Funded by DHS, the Synthetic Environments for Emergency Response Simulation (SEERS) project provides mission rehearsal and virtual prototyping tools for the emergency response community."

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Lieberman and Collins express serious concerns over ‘major weaknesses’ in disaster communication plans for US first responders: "Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs chairman Joe Lieberman, ID-Conn., and Ranking Member Susan Collins, R-Me., have expressed disappointment that the Department of Homeland Security has not moved more efficiently to improve its interoperability communications program and warned that without a strategic approach and firm leadership first responders will continue to be imperiled because of an inability to communicate effectively during an emergency or disaster.

In a letter dated April 24, 2007, to Department Secretary Michael Chertoff, the senators expressed serious concern about the ability of first responders at all levels of government to communicate during a disaster. "

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

More on Interoperability Scorecards from the Heritage Foundation: Improving Emergency Communications: Lessons from Grading America's Cities: "The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) released Tactical Interoperable Communications Scorecards: Summary Report and Findings on January 3, 2007. The report assesses 75 metropolitan areas' progress in strengthening communications systems for dealing with all types of emergencies, from terrorist incidents to natural disasters."

Monday, April 30, 2007

Interoperability inoperable: "... Now comes a report from Congress’ investigative arm, the Government Accountability Office, that concludes that much work remains to improve communications interoperability across the nation. ... But Koontz and other interoperability experts see the barrier not so much as a technology issue but as a management hurdle."

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Walking the Talk (4/11/07) Government Executive: "Interoperability among first responders is a state of mind. That is, the ability of emergency incident commanders to talk to their counterparts in other jurisdictions and disciplines is not simply a matter of buying new equipment."

Sunday, April 08, 2007

DHS to be flexible in allocation of $1B to states: "The Homeland Security Department plans to release details shortly on how it intends to allocate to states a new $1 billion fund designated for interoperable public safety communications.

The department aims to be flexible to help states that already have made investments in new radio systems, a DHS official said. Congress has mandated that DHS make the funding available to states by Sept. 30."
Interoperability plans garner additional $400M : "The growing pool of federal dollars for interoperable public safety communications grants could get even bigger, even though the nearly $3 billion spent to date has largely failed to improve first responder communications around the country.

Senate Homeland Security Committee Chairman Joe Lieberman, an independent Democrat from Connecticut, and ranking member Susan Collins (R-Maine) added $400 million for interoperable public safety communications to a non-binding budget measure. The Senate passed budget resolution for fiscal 2008 provides a blueprint for follow-up spending bills."
Cabinet departments fail to create network: "A partnership begun in 2004 by the Justice, Homeland Security and Treasury departments to create an Integrated Wireless Network has 'fractured' and is at a 'high risk for failure,' according to a government report issued yesterday. Justice Department Inspector General Glenn A. Fine said that despite years of development and more than $195 million in funding, the project 'does not appear to be on the path' to providing the seamless interoperable communications system envisioned.

'The causes for the high risk of project failure include uncertain and disparate funding mechanisms for IWN, the fractured IWN partnership and the lack of an effective governing structure for the project,' Mr. Fine said. "
Improving Emergency Communications: Lessons from Grading America's Cities: "The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) released Tactical Interoperable Communications Scorecards: Summary Report and Findings on January 3, 2007. The report assesses 75 metropolitan areas' progress in strengthening communications systems for dealing with all types of emergencies, from terrorist incidents to natural disasters.

Grades are important—citizens have a right to know how well their communities are doing—but for the Administration and Congress, the report holds more important lessons for learning how best to help states and local communities contribute to building a national disaster preparedness and response system that will make all Americans safer. The report found that federal programs that empower local communi�ties are more effective than programs that just throw money and mandates at them."
DHS ponders foray into Second Life: "The Homeland Security Department is considering setting up an outpost in Second Life, the virtual Sims-like world that has attracted 3 million registered users since 2003.

The landscape of this digital universe, founded by Linden Research Inc. of San Francisco, is rapidly changing. When it was first launched, Second Life was a motley shire where trolls, hobbits and elves—and other less savory grid dwellers—frolicked. Now it is becoming a legitimate corporate meeting place for corporations, universities and, increasingly, government agencies. Federal agencies that have set up islands on Second Life include the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and Congress [, Quickfind 745].

DHS is just at the point of having informal discussions with one company about setting up a virtual island for its Safecom program, said Tony Frater, DHS’ deputy director of the Office for Interoperability and Compatibility. “But we haven’t taken the plunge,” he said. "

Friday, March 16, 2007

Homeland Security official acknowledges the importance of analog radio: "In another area, communications, David Boyd, director of command and control systems at DHS, said analog communications may be better than digital in some cases. Digital, Boyd said, requires a 'high degree of fidelity' -- if the signal isn't strong enough, digital may not work. Analog, however, can be more forgiving and may be best suited for some uses. 'You have to think about what you are trying to do,' he said."

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Counties to create emergency radio system: "San Francisco, San Mateo, Contra Costa and Alameda counties are partnering to create a $307 million emergency radio system that will allow the region’s public safety and transit agencies to communicate on the same frequency."
Sununu adds amendment to public-safety communications bill: "Sen. John Sununu (R-N.H.) is pushing an amendment to a homeland security bill that would ensure Internet Protocol-based solutions are not excluded from government grants aimed at making public-safety communications interoperable. Sununu’s proposed amendment is expected to be voted on this week in Senate floor action on a bill to implement unfinished recommendations of the 9/11 Commission."

Thursday, March 08, 2007

The Technology Trap: "Governance, not technology, is the key to interoperability" - Jim McKay

"One of the main issues raised during the first Association of Public Safety Communications Officials International (APCO) conference in 1935 was interoperability. Then it was called 'inter-city communications,' said APCO President Wanda McCarley, but was essentially the same thing -- only on a lesser scale."

Monday, March 05, 2007

Police Chief Magazine - Chertoff Interview: "Grossman: You have the Interoperable Communications Technical Assistance Program (ICTAP) and you're using scorecards to ensure communications will work when they're needed. What do you have planned as a continuation of that program? For example, will technical assistance be provided to help agencies carry out some of these plans?

Chertoff: Let me divide the challenge into two areas. First is the technological challenge and the second is the governance challenge. We have made over $2 billion available in grants for communications bridging, or gateway, equipment that allows people to talk across different elements of the spectrum. That kind of grant funding will continue to be eligible. Another element is governance. Communities have to agree on some common rules of the road, which isn't a question of money but a question of everybody getting in the room and signing on to a common plan about what codes you use and who gets to talk to whom and what the rules of the road are. The scorecards are going to help communities recognize that they have to get their people together and finally sign off on a governance plan. We are also looking at promulgating standards for the next generation of digital equipment, P25 equipment, so that when communities make acquisitions they'll know which standards to seek."

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Public Safety Interoperable Communications (PSIC) Grant Program: "On February 16th, the National Telecommunications Information Administration (NTIA) and the DHS Office of Grants & Training signed an agreement for management of the $1B grant program known as PSIC. This link accesses the document directly (3.5 MB)."

Monday, February 19, 2007

Control of $1B interoperability fund debated: "The Homeland Security Department has no clear authority at this time over a $1 billion fund for public safety agency interoperable communications equipment that it has been publicizing as a first responder grant program, according to a Congressional Research Service memorandum.

The Feb. 12 memo was addressed to Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., in response to her request for further information about the fund. DHS said in a Feb. 5 fact sheet released with its fiscal 2008 budget request that it will be co-administering the interoperability grants program with the Commerce Department."

Friday, February 16, 2007

Arlington OEM Deputizes Ham Radio Group to Assist with Emergency Communications: "Twenty-five volunteers have graduated from a year-long course of weekly radio communications exercises and stand ready to assist Arlington County Government with crisis communications and response. The local Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Service (RACES) volunteers have received their RACES certificates of graduation from Arlington's Office of Emergency Management. The certificates qualify them to help in emergency situations such as weather catastrophes and terrorist attacks. "

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Lawmakers keep eye on communications grant program: "House lawmakers on Friday pressed Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff to establish guidelines for a new $1 billion grant program to help emergency responders buy communications equipment than can work across jurisdictions.

The Homeland Security and Commerce departments are supposed to co-administer the program, which is to be funded with proceeds from selling radio spectrum this year. But House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., and ranking Republican Peter King of New York said the departments have been unable to agree on management of the program."

Monday, February 05, 2007

McCain to introduce legislation for public-private 700 MHz network: "Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) yesterday announced his intention to introduce legislation calling for a public-private broadband network at 700 MHz that would promote communications interoperability between first-responder agencies nationwide on 30 MHz of spectrum slated to be auctioned in a year."

Monday, January 29, 2007

House panel aims for fresh look at homeland security (1/25/07): "As the new Congress revs into gear, Democrats and Republicans on the House Homeland Security Committee are likely to take a fresh look at programs dealing with biometrics, cyber security, technology innovation, communications, cargo-scanning equipment and border security, according to sources, aides and lawmakers. Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson, for example, continues to champion the need for Congress to provide state and local governments with billions of dollars in new funds to purchase and deploy emergency communications equipment that can work across jurisdictions."
Police Won’t Use $140 Million Radio System - New York Times: "For more than 10 years, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority has been working to correct a major hindrance to police work in the subway system: a radio network that keeps transit officers underground from talking with officers patrolling the streets above. The goal was simple but potentially revolutionary: replace an antiquated radio system with a network that would make it possible, for instance, for an officer chasing a suspect down a subway stairway to radio ahead to other officers. Last October, after spending $140 million, the authority completed the installation of the system citywide. But it has not been turned on.

That is because the Police Department refuses to use it, saying the new system is hobbled by widespread interference that garbles communication and creates areas where radios cannot receive properly. “What you get is distorted audio,” said Joseph Yurman, a communications engineer for New York City Transit. “You can hear it, but it sounds as if you’re talking through a glass of water.”"

Thursday, January 25, 2007

US State and Local Governments’ Spending on Technology to Improve First Responder Communications to grow 7% over next five years: "Despite the high priority placed on public safety by governments at all levels, first responders continue to struggle to communicate with peers in other agencies or jurisdictions as part of coordinated emergency response efforts. State and local governments must address both the technology and organizational issues that prohibit interoperability among public safety communications systems, says a new report by independent market analyst firm Datamonitor.

According to the report “Government Technology – Fostering Interoperability in Public Safety Communications,” spending by US state and local governments on communications technology for first responders will rise from $3.2 billion in 2006 to $4.4 billion by 2011 as public safety agencies look for ways to collaborate and share information during critical situations."
Upgrade of Houston PD radios may wait 5 years: "Five years after the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington made clear how important it was for local law enforcement and emergency responders to communicate in a disaster, the city of Houston remains outside a regional radio network of more than 500 agencies. More than 10 years after city officials began talking about the need for 'interoperability,' a Houston police officer still cannot push his mike button and talk directly to patrol deputies at the Harris County Sheriff's Office. Instead, officers must rely on county dispatchers to send out the call. When county dispatchers are not monitoring that channel, a city dispatcher must contact his counterparts by phone."

Friday, January 12, 2007

NYC says law hurts radio efforts - "New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg urged Congress on Monday to scrap a rule on emergency radio transmissions that he argues hurts his city, which has invested millions of dollars in upgrading police and fire communications since the 2001 terror attacks."

Monday, January 08, 2007

Faulhaber - Solving the Interoperability Problem "Public safety radio communication provides the essential link by which fire, police, EMS and other emergency personnel respond to life- and property-threatening situations. Communications enables the situational awareness, command and operational control without which the response of multiple agencies to an emergency is less than useless. Key to this communications capability is interoperability: the capability of first responders from different agencies to communicate during emergencies."

Sunday, January 07, 2007

DHS: Interoperability has improved, but needs to be better: "Tactical interoperable communications among first-responder agencies has improved noticeably in recent years but considerable work remains to regionalize interoperability capabilities, according to a 179-page report released this week by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

DHS made scorecard assessments of 75 urban and metropolitan areas in the county, based largely on exercises conducted in each area. Interoperability policies have been established in all of these areas and first-responder cooperation in the field is strong, but leadership often is not formalized and communications links between agencies need to be tested regularly, according to the report."
Chertoff pledges more progress on emergency communications interoperability: "Homeland Security Department secretary Michael Chertoff cited a newly released report card rating cities’ progress on achieving interoperable emergency communications as a guide to further work in the field to plug gaps over the next two years rather than an indictment of laggard cities.

“We’re going to identify the [interoperability performance] gaps and get them to where they need to be,” Chertoff said, as he released the scorecards. “What we are talking about is getting beyond the basic level to advanced [interoperability preparedness].”

He cautioned against using the report card scores to compare cities’ performances in the field across the board, because of varying regional characteristics. Citing such variable factors as the role of skyscrapers and land features in causing problems for radio communications, Chertoff warned that direct comparisons among cities would be “like comparing apples to oranges.”
Baton Rouge officials say report biased: "WASHINGTON — Baton Rouge-area emergency response officials on Wednesday rebuffed a U.S. Department of Homeland Security report saying the region had one of the worst metropolitan systems in the nation for communicating by radio during disasters. Although acknowledging varying levels of equipment compatibility and financial resources, officials in an eight-parish region near Baton Rouge studied by the federal government contend that they are making strides in what is called “interoperability.” The local governments tested their systems last summer, an exercise that came off with few communication mistakes, participants said."

Saturday, January 06, 2007

DHS: Remarks by Secretary Michael Chertoff at a Press Conference on the Nationwide Interoperable Communications Assessment: "Secretary Chertoff: ... As we begin 2007, this is a good opportunity to talk about interoperability, which is a major concern for homeland security. ... What is interoperability? Well, simply put, it's the ability of first response agencies — whether they be fire, police or emergency medical services — to communicate with each other during an emergency or a disaster. This means having radios that can talk to each other. But it also means having established operating procedures for communication and clear lines of authority. This is an issue in which we've been focused on for the last couple of years and, in fact, it's an issue which the 9/11 commission identified in its final report as one of the priority 'must dos' for all levels of government.

Interoperability, though, is more than just a matter of technology. People tend to think about it as, we've just got to find the right radio or the right communications device, and then everybody can talk to everybody else. But, in fact, true interoperability also involves matters of governance; policy making; standard operating procedures; such as knowing where you get your radios and who is entitled to talk to who; training, so that people know how to use the equipment; and exercising, so that we can evaluate where performance continues to need work."

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

6 of 75 cities get top disaster rating: "On Sept. 11, 2001, New York fire battalion chief Dennis Devlin issued an urgent plea: His men were in 'a state of confusion' and needed more working radios immediately. Yet, more than five years since Devlin and 342 other members of the city's fire department perished at the World Trade Center, the government says only six U.S. cities have fully answered the late fire chief's call by adopting advanced emergency communications systems. New York is not one of the six, according to the scorecard by the Homeland Security Department that was to be released Wednesday.

A draft portion of the report obtained Tuesday by The Associated Press gives the best ratings to the Washington, D.C., area; San Diego; Minneapolis-St. Paul; Columbus, Ohio; Sioux Falls, S.D.; and Laramie County, Wyo. The lowest scores go to Chicago; Cleveland; Baton Rouge, La.; Mandan, N.D.; and American Samoa. The report includes large and small cities and their suburbs, along with U.S. territories."