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. "