Tuesday, December 16, 2008
In the report, “Improving Interoperable Communications Nationwide: Overview of Initial State and Territory Investments,” the Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) and the Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) revealed findings from their analyses of state, territory and local communications initiatives. The agencies also established a baseline for measuring each program’s anticipated impact on interoperable communications across the nation."
'Emergency response officials consistently cite the ability to communicate with other first responders as critical to being able to better protect the public in the face of any emergency,' said John Thomasian, director of the NGA Center. 'This Policy Academy will provide states the opportunity to addresses the coordination needed among key stakeholders to build efficient, effective interoperable communications.'"
Saturday, December 13, 2008
Saturday, December 06, 2008
The unfortunate corollary to this maxim: Communication failures kill. Increasingly attention is being focused on how to increase communication, not only within an emergency response organization, but also across first responders from different agencies. To remain fully connected, key communications officers have often adopted a 'bat belt' approach with several communications devices - sometimes a half dozen or more - strapped to their waist. It's a necessity for communicating among the many different federal, state and local agencies' wireless networks during an incident."
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
Proponents of aerostats – essentially tethered blimp-shaped balloons – say they can provide temporary wide-area communications when disaster wipes out fixed towers. The Sept. 24 consortium of federal agencies, universities and private companies tested communication payloads on a 75-foot long Army-owned aerostat."
"Indeed, two academics assigned to the Federal Communications Commission transition review — Susan Crawford and Kevin Werbach — are vocal advocates of open networks in the wireless and broadband sectors. Both are influential bloggers on cutting-edge telecom and high-tech policy issues."
Monday, November 24, 2008
Monday, November 17, 2008
Wireless Usage Survey - RadioRescource for Netmotion - A recent vendor survey of public-safety agencies found that nearly 60 percent of the agencies intend to invest more heavily in wireless technology next year. The customer survey was conducted in October across NetMotion Wireless’ installed base of more than 1,200 organizations and government agencies.
Among the key findings:
- In addition to the 60 percent of agencies that plan to invest in wireless technology next year; 23 percent were unsure; and 17 percent said they did not plan to do so.
- Given the broad geographic regions they cover, about 94 percent of public-safety agencies rely on multiple wireless data networks for their deployments.
- Nearly 20 percent use a combination of Wi-Fi and one cellular carrier; more than 70 percent use Wi-Fi networks in combination with multiple wide-area data networks provided by wireless carriers.
- More than 97 percent of the respondents’ wireless deployments are comprised of laptops, while 35 percent also use tablet PCs, and about 55 percent use smart phones or other wireless handheld devices in their deployments.
- For 87 percent of IT personnel that support public-safety field forces, the key factor in defining the success of their mobile deployment is whether it saves officers' time and makes officers more productive in the field.
- During the next two years, 56 percent plan to deploy streaming video within the field and 29 percent plan to use mobile voice over IP within their agencies.
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
Phoenix Shared Radio System - A long-awaited regional partnership allowing [Phoenix area] police, fire and municipal agencies to talk to one another on a single radio-communications frequency is starting to take shape. ... [Bill Phillips, the project manager] anticipates that by December, a board of directors will be formed to discuss the system's design, each city's needs and how costs will be shared. The design could take six to eight months to complete.
Saturday, September 27, 2008
The five-member FCC approved a plan devised by agency Chairman Kevin Martin, cutting to $750 million a prior $1.3 billion minimum bid and easing other requirements."
Monday, September 22, 2008
That's a far cry from 2005 when Katrina and Rita leveled communications systems. Portable radios and phones failed, isolating communities for days and making first-responders unaware of the scope of the devastation. The collapse prompted a $95 million upgrade in communications infrastructure.
The new system wasn't without disruptions, including failure of two radio towers for both Gustav and Ike. But backups were quickly dropped into affected areas. State officials said they never lost total communication with any parish."
Friday, September 19, 2008
Under the new proposal, the network would be auctioned as one national block of radio spectrum or, alternatively, as 58 separate regional airwaves licenses. The agency said that it prefers to sell the spectrum as a whole and that it would give priority to such a bid. But if no one meets the minimum reserve price for the national block, the commission would close the auction with a minimum of half of the 58 regional licenses sold."
Wednesday, September 03, 2008
Tuesday, September 02, 2008
FEMA will implement it in Q1 2009"
'This is a comprehensive plan designed to drive measurable and sustainable improvements to operable and interoperable emergency communications nationwide over the next three years. It emphasizes the human element and cross-jurisdictional cooperation, going beyond simply buying new equipment,' said Homeland Security Under Secretary Robert Jamison. 'We have recently approved Statewide Communication Interoperability Plans for all 56 states and territories. Aligning these plans with the NECP will move emergency communications forward and further promote a coordinated nationwide strategy.'
The NECP defines three goals that establish a minimum level of interoperable communications and a deadline for federal, state, local and tribal authorities:
1. By 2010, 90 percent of all high-risk urban areas designated within the Urban Areas Security Initiative (UASI) can demonstrate response-level emergency communications within one hour for routine events involving multiple jurisdictions and agencies.
2. By 2011, 75 percent of non-UASI jurisdictions can demonstrate response-level emergency communications within one hour for routine events involving multiple jurisdictions and agencies.
3. By 2013, 75 percent of all jurisdictions can demonstrate response-level emergency communications within three hours of a significant event, as outlined in the department's national planning scenarios."
'Sprint [Nextel, the wireless carrier paying for rebanding] wants to get this finished. I think a lot of the burden will fall on public safety to get this done,' Derek Poarch, chief of the FCC’s public safety and homeland security bureau (PSHSB), said on Monday. 'Public-safety licensees need to push their consultants and vendors. If they’re having trouble, we’ll be happy to help them.'"
Friday, August 22, 2008
'It’s a win-win for everyone,' Nix said. 'The more people you have involved in a system like this, the less it costs for everyone involved.'"
Monday, August 11, 2008
Focus on digital-radio performance in fireground scenarios heightened last month after the release of an International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC) report on the issue. Tests conducted by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) indicated that analog systems provided greater audio intelligibility than digital systems in four of nine environments, including when self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) masks and personal alert safety systems (PASS) were in use.
These results and anecdotal experiences have caused firefighters in Phoenix, Orlando and Marion County, Ind., to question the wisdom of moving from analog radio to multimillion-dollar digital systems."
Monday, August 04, 2008
Thursday, July 17, 2008
“We should elevate the importance of the emergency communications of DHS,” he said. “The Office of Emergency Communications is buried in DHS.”"
Monday, July 14, 2008
The switchover, from the 800 MHz system to 700 MHz, began in January 2007, and should be up and running statewide by next summer, said Brant Mitchell, assistant deputy director of interoperability with the Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness. Right now, the new system is operational in all parishes south of Interstate 10 and in southeast Louisiana, Mitchell said.
“If you look at the major disasters of the last 10 years, the No. 1 problem in all of them was that police, fire and emergency agencies were not able to talk to one another,” State Police Superintendent Col. Mike Edmonson said. "The push to change is both national and local."
Tuesday, July 01, 2008
IAFC last year formed a working group to study the problems firefighters were experiencing when using digital radios in the presence of loud background noise—not only from power tools like chainsaws often found at a fireground, but also from alert mechanisms included in a firefighter’s apparatus."
Monday, May 19, 2008
The National Capital Region (NCR) awarded a contract in early 2007 to Alcatel Lucent for an EV-DO Revision A network at 700 MHz. In September, DHS rolled out the Radio over Wireless-Broadband (ROW-B) pilot in conjunction with the D.C. Office of the Chief Technology Officer (OCTO) and Clarity Communications. The project integrates new broadband technologies with existing public-safety two-way radio systems, including the integration of location information.
The pilot includes about 200 users from NCR’s police, fire and unified communications departments who are using video on the network, said Vivek Kundra, chief technology officer (CTO) for the District of Columbia. The network is licensed through a special temporary authority (STA) license that must be renewed through the FCC every six months. Federal grants initially were used to roll out the network. Alcatel Lucent has agreed to waive its maintenance fees for a year, Kundra said."
Sunday, May 04, 2008
DHS officials were careful to note that the BSI is not a standard, but a specification that leverages commercial voice-over-IP technology. Equipment that allows disparate radio systems to interoperate via an IP platform is nothing new, but that doesn’t mean that the various bridging systems easily interoperate with each other, said Dereck Orr, program manager for public safety communications standards for the National Institute of Standards and Technology.
“Just because it says it’s IP doesn’t mean it’s interoperable,” Orr said. “We needed to get that word out to public safety and to policymakers, as well.”"
Thursday, May 01, 2008
'We had an emergency and police could not be reached,' Page told selectmen on Monday. 'It presents a serious liability to the town.'"
FEMA has expanded its repertoire of scripted response plans, from 44 in 2006 to more than 240 now. It has also increased the number of agencies it coordinates with in creating scripted scenarios for such exercises, from four to 31, said Glenn Cannon, assistant administrator of FEMA's Disaster Operations Directorate."
Saturday, April 26, 2008
But the next step has sparked a bitter fight in the Capitol. The question: Is Gov. Matt Blunt's proposal to build a statewide wireless radio network vital to public safety or a blank check for high-tech vendors? After months of debate, the plan cleared a key hurdle Thursday. Legislative negotiators approved the first $9 million payment on the $175 million system. The deal, part of the state budget, still needs final approval from both the House and Senate.
The project has drawn criticism because the state plans to use a 'design-build approach,' which means that the winning bidder would figure out how to provide the radio coverage needed."
Thursday, April 24, 2008
Tuesday, April 22, 2008
The New York City Wireless Network (NYCWiN) was rolled out to 70 percent of the city's police precincts and firehouses on April 1, giving the city's first responders and employees a unique public safety and public service network."
Sunday, April 20, 2008
Commissioner Chairman Jon Eich noted the system upgrades will cost each county taxpayer between $40 and $50 a year for the next 10 years, which, he said, is a small price to pay to make sure emergency communications in the county remain strong for years to come. ... Eich noted the bond that paid for the current system will be paid off in 2011, the same year that a new bond may be taken out for a new system."
Wednesday, April 16, 2008
Critics say that the system is still more complicated than firefighters and cops need it to be, and remains a serious liability in times of crisis.
Two years ago, in one of the most serious malfunctions, the Police Department had to rely on a backup system for three days, and kept officers in two-car teams because of safety concerns.
Problems continued as recently as March 15, when screeching noises were heard on radios in North Philadelphia and cops in the Northeast couldn't communicate with police dispatchers, police officials said."
Monday, April 07, 2008
'The Statewide Wireless Network Project Office, based on M/A-COM's certification, is ready to begin testing the network,' said Dr. Michael R. Mittleman, Deputy CIO at the New York State Office for Technology and Interim Project Director. 'We will put the network through its paces in a rigorous test and will stretch the system to its limits to ensure the system can handle radio communications during any emergency our state's first responders may face.'"
Sunday, April 06, 2008
Public safety, organically ingrained in and the higher calling component of the Communications Act, already had sacred cow status before 9/11. Now, public safety is overlaid -- explicitly and otherwise -- on telecom policy across the board. Perhaps no other sector has felt it more than the wireless industry. The once bright line separating public safety and commercial wireless communications has become forever blurred. Indeed, it is getting increasingly difficult to tell where public safety policy begins and cellphone policy ends. Jurisdictions are overlapping. A fundamental morphing is underway."
The exercise, hosted by the Northern Command’s Joint Task Force Civil Support (JTF-CS) at Fort Monroe, Va., is an example of one of several ways that FEMA and its coordinating agencies have sought to improve their performance. Other measures include a national communications plan and the National Response Framework. “We don’t want to wait until we are in the middle of an event to call our friends at DOD and say, ‘You know, now we need some help,’ ” Cannon said."
A detailed report on the incident recently released by Prince William County Department of Fire and Rescue concluded that problems associated with the use of the county’s Motorola digital trunked radio system contributed to the tragedy. Issues reported by other firefighters during that incident, which was further complicated by strong winds, ranged from signal distortion and transmission failure to radios displaying “out of range” signals.
Fire safety advocates now are encouraging fire departments across the country to study the incident in hopes that future tragedies could be avoided. Prince William County’s fire department, through further tests, concluded that digital portable radios are “extremely vulnerable to poor environmental conditions and interference of digital noise from ambient sources, which negatively impact the ability of emergency personnel to effectively communicate.”"
Among members of Congress, self-proclaimed public-interest groups and public-safety agencies themselves, there are a lot of words flying around mixed in with a little finger-pointing. Depending on what you read, and what you believe, either FCC Chairman Kevin Martin, public safety itself or Cyren Call founder Morgan O’Brien caused the downfall of the D Block.
It makes me nervous that people are going to spend too much time and effort looking back when their collective energy should be spent trying to find a solution. I understand that we as a nation have an obligation to make sure nothing illegal was done by any party involved in the D-Block debacle, but that work should not overshadow the government’s first mission: fixing public-safety communications."
Democrat Edward Markey of Massachusetts, chairman of the House subcommittee on telecom and the Internet, said in a statement Tuesday that he is 'eager to ascertain the extent to which new entrants have succeeded in obtaining licenses through this auction.'"
“I believe the commission remains committed to ensuring that we work to solve public safety’s interoperability challenges,” he said. “Because the reserve price for the D Block was not met in the 700 MHz auction, the FCC is now evaluating its options for this spectrum.”"
And a simple Wi-Fi router was key to their efforts.
Participant Tom Price says the group used a Kyocera KR1 Mobile Router and an EVDO card to get online in Mississippi.
“We’re sitting in a swamp running gas generators perched in the debris of what used to be the post office, with this router inside a plastic bin nail-gunned to a pole we’d stuck in the ground—and that was our lifeline to the world,” he recalls.
Burners Without Borders continues to operate aid projects in remote areas—they’re currently helping Pisco, Peru recover from last fall’s 8.0 earthquake—and Price says Internet connectivity is always key, for both communications and fundraising.
“We’re a diverse community of people located internationally, and so whenever we work on a project, being able to connect wirelessly puts us in touch with that entire global network of money, resources, and expertise,” he says."
Tuesday, March 25, 2008
According to the Coast Guard project page, Rescue 21 "will provide an updated, leading-edge ...(VHF-FM) communications system, replacing the National Distress Response System installed and deployed during the 1970s. Rescue 21 will cover more than 95,000 miles of coastline, navigable rivers and waterways in the continental United States, Alaska, Hawaii, Guam and Puerto Rico. ...
"Rescue 21 will replace a wide range of aging, obsolete radio communications equipment to include:
* Consoles at Coast Guard Sectors and Stations.
* All remote transceiver sites (antenna towers), as well as the network connecting them to the facilities above."
Thursday, March 20, 2008
Nine organizations, including the Consumer Federation of America and Consumers Union, wrote to FCC Chairman Kevin J. Martin, saying the FCC should 'investigate carefully the allegations' that representatives of the nation's police, fire and emergency officials undermined the auction. They cited reports that public-safety representatives demanded that any winner of the auction make additional payments to them."
Saturday, February 23, 2008
Monday, February 18, 2008
First reported by Harold WFeld on the WetMachine blog, the rumor that machinations by Morgan O’Brien of Cyren Call fame may have helped to scuttle the plans of Frontline Wireless — perhaps the most likely bidder on the mixed-use D Block bandwidth — is something Adelstein is taking seriously, following what he called the “great disappointment” of the apparent failure of any winning bid for the D Block spectrum."
Wednesday, February 13, 2008
The $2 billion NY State emergency radio network failed its first major test, prompting concerns from some state officials and causing the state’s second largest city, Buffalo, to opt out of the system, reported the NY Times. But problems should be fixed by M/A-COM this April say state officials, when they will decide whether to proceed with the $2 billion project. The state-wide public service radio network would tie virtually all public safety workers together and is scheduled to be completed in 2010."
Saturday, February 02, 2008
Friday, January 25, 2008
Tuesday, January 15, 2008
Friday, January 11, 2008
Thursday, January 03, 2008
"Interoperability is one of the rare national initiatives where the federal government is backing up its directives to the states and localities with real money," said Jeff Webster, analyst, justice/public safety and homeland security at INPUT. "It's no surprise that a recent report by the Governors Homeland Security Advisors Council found that developing interoperable communications is the top homeland security priority in the states. Major metropolitan areas, like Los Angeles, are the best places for vendors to prove they can deliver inter-jurisdictional voice and data interoperability among all types of first responders. INPUT expects to see a steady stream of opportunities like these over the next three to five years." "
Wednesday, January 02, 2008
“Communications and interoperability have always been good. We share the same bank of frequencies,” [Lenexa Fire Chief Dan] Rhodus said. “But this is a much bigger project."
"We work together, plan together, train together and respond to calls together ... to help our residents,” Hudson said. “It’s a great relationship we look forward to continuing for a long time to come.”"