Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Avoiding Another Generation of Lost Interoperability: "If the National Broadband Plan being developed by the Federal Communications Commission isn’t on your radar screen, you’re hardly alone. But a lot is at stake in getting this thing right, and we need to start paying attention to it or risk squandering a once-in-a-generation opportunity to dramatically improve our public safety and security."

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Demonstration Network Planned for Public Safety 700 MHz Broadband: "The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) have announced plans to create a demonstration broadband communications network for the nation’s emergency services agencies using a portion of the radiofrequency spectrum freed up by the recent transition of U.S. broadcast television from analog to digital technologies. The new system will provide a common demonstration site for manufacturers, carriers, and public safety agencies to test and evaluate advanced broadband communications equipment and software tailored specifically to the needs of emergency first responders."

Monday, November 30, 2009

When interoperability and security collide: "Opening up transmissions between agencies is at the core of interoperable communications, but with that openness comes an increased need for security.

This seeming paradox was made all too clear on September 11th, 2009.

As the Coast Guard held a training exercise on the Potomac near the Pentagon, CNN's police scanner picked up transmissions from the exercise.

CNN then reported 10 shots had been fired on a suspicious vessel. Fox News also reported the shots."

Monday, November 23, 2009

Nationwide public safety broadband network encounters funding problems: "Eight years after the 9/11 attacks and four years after the landfall of Hurricane Katrina, ensuring that first responders have interoperable communications when reacting to such disasters remains a priority for policy-makers at the local, state and national levels.

While the deployment of narrowband systems at 700 MHz — the recently cleared band upon which federal policy-makers have pinned many of their public-safety communications hopes — continues in the piecemeal fashion long familiar to public safety, efforts to create a national broadband network for the first-response community have yielded little tangible progress. The well-chronicled failure of the 700 MHz auction to attract a commercial D Block bidder willing to work with public safety in a public/private partnership has been followed by two years of spirited debate and considerable legwork, but no clear course of action has been chosen by Congress or the FCC."
Pieces of homeland security puzzle assembled in new Purdue center: "A group of researchers at a new Purdue University visual data center knows that knowledge might be power, but how it's filtered is what really counts. Purdue on Monday celebrated the inception of the national center, dubbed VACCINE or Visual Analytics for Command, Control and Interoperability Environments. The center, funded by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, is a collaboration among 16 universities, including Purdue, where it's headquartered.

'It aims to provide comprehensive visual depictions -- such as graphics, maps and simulations -- of data needed to help law enforcement and emergency responders across the country function better,' said director David Ebert."

Thursday, November 12, 2009

FCC Mulls Broadband Network for Public Safety: "So much of the government's recent attention to broadband networks has focused on the networks used by consumers, but in the backdrop of that heavily-lobbied debate are policymakers' concerns over the use of broadband to improve public safety.

But with a thicket of state, local and tribal jurisdictions with widely varying needs and budgets, the goal of a nationwide, interoperable broadband-enabled communications network has remained elusive."

Friday, October 30, 2009

DHS opens national cybersecurity operations center: "The Homeland Security Department opened a new operations center today that integrates national cybersecurity and telecommunications monitoring systems and provides a new degree of situational awareness surrounding the nation’s communications, information technology and cyber infrastructure.

The new National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center (NCCIC), combines two of DHS’ operational organizations: the U.S. Computer Emergency Readiness Team (US-CERT), which leads a public-private partnership focused on defending the nation’s cyber infrastructure; and the National Coordinating Center for Telecommunications (NCC), the operational arm of the National Communications System."

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Plain Talk Eases Police Radio Codes Off The Air: "Police radio can sound like an algebra class, with all those 10-4s and 187s.

But more and more departments are trying a radical approach: asking officers who need backup or want to report a robbery to do so in plain old English.

Late one night in 2005, a police officer on a dark highway in Independence, Mo., radioed in that he had just passed a State Highway Patrol officer's car on the side of a road with the door open."

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Oversight Missing for Oregon's Emergency Radio Network: "A new report to lawmakers says Oregon lacks the necessary oversight on a $414 million project to build a massive emergency radio network.

The report from the Legislature's budget committee says those building the Oregon Wireless Interoperability Network don't have the staff and controls in place to adequately manage such a large-scale construction and technology project.

State officials running the project say everything is under control and on schedule."

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Illinois MABAS shows true interoperability: "Communications is only one slice of the interoperability pie. In fact, although interoperable communication systems are an essential tool during an incident, preplanning strategies and tactics are crucial to safeguarding lives.

One of the most common ways to preplan incidents is through the National Incident Management System. The government argued that NIMS was needed to create interoperable common-operational pictures across different state and local agencies. And, many in public-safety stand behind it, like Leonard Carmichael Jr., a fire captain in Trenton, N.J. Carmichael said he strongly believes NIMS provides a systematic, proactive approach that can guide agencies at all levels of government to prevent, protect against, respond to, recover from and mitigate the effects of incidents."

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Lawmakers Acknowledge Need for General Funds to Build Public-Safety Network: "Congressional members of the House subcommittee on communications, technology and the Internet heard views from the public-safety community and commercial carriers on the best option for the 700 MHz D block spectrum Thursday, with several lawmakers noting general funds might be the only way to ensure buildout of a nationwide public-safety broadband network."

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Baltimore Co. begins $57 million public safety radio network overhaul: "Baltimore County is upgrading their outdated public safety radio transmission network. And last week, Governor Martin O’Malley and County Executive Jim Smith hailed the construction of a new radio tower as the first step towards the $57 million project completion.

“This three-year project will further improve our first responders’ ability to communicate with each other, with relevant County agencies as well as with our partners at the state and throughout the region,” Smith said in a statement.

The new interoperable network will upgrade the existing analog network to digital, improving the ability to use encryption and secure transmission and increasing the radio network’s coverage area. Baltimore County Police and Fire Department use over 6,000 two-way radios, which will either be replaced, or be outfitted with enhanced software that accepts digital transmissions benefit from the enhanced network and they will work in conjunction with the Department of Public Works by folding the DPW channel frequency into the new public safety network"

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

U.S. and Mexico talk safety across the fence: "The United States and Mexico will establish a new cross-border communications network including voice, data and video channels to support their law enforcement and public safety agencies, officials announced.

The Homeland Security Department and the Secretariat of Public Security of Mexico will coordinate the installation and operation of the network, according to DHS. DHS, the State department and Mexican officials signed the agreement, which also provides for joint protection from radio interference and jamming.

The goal is to create an interoperable network that will be linked to federal, state, local and tribal safety networks for the purpose of public safety and law enforcement."

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Public safety communications still a work in progress, Chertoff says: "Eight years after the terrorist attacks of September 11, there has been significant progress made toward improving first-responder communications, but there is still a lot of distance to cover, former Homeland Security secretary Michael Chertoff told public safety officials today.

Increased funding to state and local governments, advances in radio technology and the release of the Homeland Security Department’s National Emergency Communications Plan, which outlines a strategy to improve public safety communications throughout the nation, have all contributed to more effective communications among various jurisdictions, Chertoff said."

Friday, September 04, 2009

ELF Claims Responsibility For Radio Tower Sabotage: "An environmental extremist group has claimed responsibility for toppling two towers owned by a sports radio station near Snohomish. The Earth Liberation Front group took responsibility for the act on its Web site Friday. The towers were brought down with a trackhoe."

ELF Claims Responsibility For Radio Tower Sabotage - Seattle News Story - KIRO Seattle

ELF Claims Responsibility For Radio Tower Sabotage: "An environmental extremist group has claimed responsibility for toppling two towers owned by a sports radio station near Snohomish. The Earth Liberation Front group took responsibility for the act on its Web site Friday. The towers were brought down with a trackhoe."

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Former DHS secretary Ridge discusses critical issues facing public safety: "What role do interoperable communications play?
That’s a really sensitive point with me there. I am very disappointed that one of the most important recommendations from the 9/11 Commission Report, sanctioned by Congress, before which I testified and around which many great recommendations were made … that the very high priority they gave to a public-safety interoperable communications systems continues to be ignored.

Right now, we have patchwork, a piecemeal of technologies. At the end of the day, what this country needs, what the first responders deserve, what citizens should demand is that there’s a public safety broadband interoperable communication system built. … I can’t imagine that there’s one first responder who disagrees with me."

Friday, August 07, 2009

More Support Required to Fill Emergency Communication Gaps: "Limitations in communications for first responders rushing to a large-scale disaster, such as the 9/11 terrorist attacks or Hurricane Katrina, continue to linger due in part to delays in the establishment of a federal emergency communications center, which would provide assistance in overcoming those obstacles, congressional investigators said Monday.

Federal agencies have worked to help equip local first responders to react to catastrophic events that could overwhelm their communications capacities, but limitations in collaboration and monitoring threaten to minimize federal contributions, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) concluded in a report titled 'Emergency Communications: Vulnerabilities Remain and Limited Collaboration and Monitoring Hamper Federal Efforts.'"
Proposed alerting system sounds promising | Commercial Mobile Alert Service: "While considerable focus has been put on the need for better communications within the first-responder community, communications with the public being served and protected also needs considerable attention. In an increasingly mobile society, traditional alerting tools like the emergency broadcast system may not get the message to the growing number of people who rely almost solely on a handheld device to stay in touch with the world."

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

US, Britain testing new ways to coordinate battlefield communications and track combat troops: "British military officials are testing new technologies that they say will make operations with the United States and other coalition partners more efficient and responsive to threats.

More important, British officials say, they will be able to give a better accounting of troop locations on the battlefield, making for quicker action and avoiding friendly-fire incidents.

Brig. David Cullen, commander of the British 12th Mechanized Regiment, said this week that closing gaps between British and American systems is critical, especially given the complex operations in Afghanistan and Iraq. Combat units need to exchange critical information, such as the location of improvised explosive devices, those roadside bombs that have become the insurgent's weapon of choice."

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

First-responder Communications Remain Vulnerable: "It will take more than the spectrum freed up by the DTV transition to fix the nation’s fractured first-responder communication systems. In a report to a Senate Commerce subcommittee, the Government Accountability Office provided a list of vulnerabilities, including antiquated phone lines, incompatibility between jurisdictions and facilities that won’t hold up under natural disasters.

“Continuity of communications, capacity, and interoperability are the primary areas of vulnerability in emergency communications that persist in communities across the country,” the report, based on six case studies, stated. 
Schools Find Role in National Emergency Communications Plan: "A school district in Colorado launched a new two-way radio training program for all school staff on Monday, and became the first in the nation to formally align its school safety plans with the Department of Homeland Security's vision for interoperable radio communications to improve coordination among agencies responding to emergencies.

At the all-day inaugural training workshop, Pueblo County School District 70 (D70) school principals learned how to effectively use two-way radio communications according to the National Emergency Communications Plan (NECP) and the Incident Command System (ICS)."

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Seybold's take: It's time for public safety to present a unified plan: "While the new administration was being formed, including the new FCC, it may have appeared that not much was happening in Washington D.C. with public-safety communications. But in reality a lot of positive things were taking place within the public-safety community and with commercial network operators."

Thursday, July 16, 2009

California Planning Statewide Public Safety Interoperable Communications Network: "On Monday, California's Public Safety Radio Strategic Planning Committee (PSRSPC), that's composed of state emergency responders, held a public meeting to kick off the strategic planning process for a statewide interoperable communications network to connect emergency responders. California's goal is to build a statewide interoperable communications network over the next 10 years that allows PSRSPC members to communicate between themselves as well as with local, tribal and federal partners."

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

DHS Takes Step Forward on Interoperability: "The first pilot demonstrations of the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Unified Incident Command and Decision Support (UICDS) system have been completed, Science Applications International Corporation, San Diego, Calif., an engineering and systems integration firm serving as prime contractor on the project, reported late last week.

The first test demo was held April 29 in coordination with Virginia Emergency Operations Center (VEOC) in Richmond, Va. A follow-up testing event took place in late May.

UICDS, an information architecture blueprint for managing and sharing incident information across state and local jurisdictional lines and with DHS and other federal agencies, is sponsored by the Science and Technology Directorate of the US Department of Homeland Security."

Thursday, July 02, 2009

DHS Announces Sites for Multi-Band Radio Pilot: "The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate today announced the 14 lead organizations for the upcoming pilot phase of testing and evaluation (T&E) for the Multi-Band Radio project. The pilots comprise the final phase of a three-part T&E process that includes laboratory testing, short-term demonstrations, and pilot projects."

Monday, June 29, 2009

Public-safety task force begins 700 MHz work: "A public-safety task force met for the first time last week in an effort to establish requirements for 700 MHz broadband systems that can be used as national standards, potentially providing guidance to the FCC and to metropolitan areas or regions wanting to pursue their own network buildouts in the spectrum band.

Participants in the process include the 15 member associations of the National Public Safety Telecommunications Council (NPSTC), the Department of Homeland Security's Science & Technology Directorate–Command, Control & Interoperability Division, and the technical-support organization at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)."
Emergency response to Metrorail crash shows post-9/11 gains: "First responders' effective handling of Monday's rail accident in Washington, coupled with the smooth rescue after a Hudson River plane crash in January, may indicate that the post-9/11 demand for better, faster emergency response is being met – at least in some of the nation's big cities.

'The regional response that is required during extraordinary incidents (Hudson and Metro being two good recent examples) has, in my opinion, significantly improved since 9/11,' Daniel Kaniewski, deputy director of George Washington University's Homeland Security Policy Institute, wrote Wednesday in an e-mail interview. He served in the Bush White House as special assistant to the president for homeland security and senior director for response policy."

Monday, June 22, 2009

BAPCO help NPIA produce Guidance on Multi-Agency Interoperability: "The National Policing Improvement Agency (NPIA) has recently published its ‘Guidance on Multi-Agency Interoperability’ having worked with staff from the Police, Fire and Ambulance Services to support the introduction of common practices and procedures to prepare front-line staff for the advances in communications interoperability.

The NPIA wrote to the BAPCO organisation to thank them for their input in helping put the guidance together saying:"

Saturday, May 30, 2009

NCEC Open Discussion Leads to Details and Answers: "Both federal and local emergency response leaders opened the first formal session of the National Conference on Emergency Communications by inviting attendees to share openly their success stories as well as the challenges they face. More than 450 representatives from emergency response organizations are attending the conference, including personnel from the military as well as large and small U.S. communities and Guam, Hawaii, the United Kingdom and Canada.

Although technology was on everyone’s mind, Raymond Orozco, director, Chicago Office of Emergency Management, emphasized that interoperability is about more than radios and computer systems. “We need to make sure that operations drive the technology and not the other way around,” Orozco said. Theodore O’Keefe, deputy superintendent, Chicago Police Department, added that “sometimes interoperability can present daunting challenges for us, challenges that we face every day.”"
PSST responds to 700 MHz waiver requests: "The Public Safety Spectrum Trust (PSST) — the nationwide licensee of public safety's 700 MHz broadband spectrum — recently told the FCC that it supports the idea of local and state entities building networks early on the frequencies, but existing rules need to be changed to make such deployments practical.

In separate waiver requests, the city of Boston, the state of New Jersey and the Bay Area cities — San Francisco, Oakland and San Jose — asked the FCC for permission to pursue the buildout of 700 MHz broadband networks on spectrum licensed to the PSST. In its reply, the PSST reiterated its support for early buildouts if they meet the technical and interoperability requirements of the planned national public-safety network that previously would have been built and maintained by a public/private partnership."
FDNY Chief Cassano: Is New York ready for another 9/11?: "It's been nearly eight years since 9/11, and I wondered if New York was prepared for another large-scale incident. So I called New York City Fire Department Chief Salvatore Cassano and asked him point blank: Can the city respond to another terrorist attack?

Cassano said the FDNY will operate at full capacity if the city again is the target of a terrorist attack. He said a lot has changed since 2001. Overseeing all incidents in the city wasn't an option pre-9/11 because technology was not in place to support large-scale emergency operations. When the planes hit the Twin Towers, the FDNY command center consisted of only a couple of phones and a couple of screens, he said. Response efforts also were hampered by a general inability to share information across local, state and federal agencies."
Florida National Guard trains communications experts for upcoming hurricane season: "The torrential rains in Florida gave a realistic backdrop to National Guard training this week, as Soldiers and Airmen prepared their emergency response efforts for the upcoming hurricane season. More than 100 members of the Florida National Guard completed three week-long courses in northeast Florida May 5-22, learning how to operate mobile Regional Emergency Response Network (RERN) systems."
New York City Wireless Network Goes Live Citywide: "New York City first responders have high-speed wireless connectivity anywhere across the city's more than 300 square miles, thanks to the newly deployed New York City Wireless Network (NYCWiN). The price tag was $500 million, paid to vendor Northrop Grumman to build the network, then operate and maintain it over the next five years. The New York City Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications (DoITT) initiated the project with the vendor in 2006."

Friday, May 29, 2009

DHS creates bonds among first responders: "When first responders across the country have a technology need, they do not turn to vendors for help. These police, fire, emergency medical services and many others depend on the Homeland Security Department's Science and Technology Directorate's Office of Interoperability and Compatibility (OIC).

Luke Berndt, the office's chief technical officer, says OIC has grown into its role as a facilitator. 'We can bring together communities and help them come up with a good description of what kind of capability they want,' Berndt says. 'It has to be broad enough to cover the larger community, and allow for different companies to provide the capabilities and allow for the community to have access to those products.'"

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Oregon Statewide emergency communications system proposal faces disconnect: "Lawmakers came to Salem two years ago to find a surprise waiting for them in Gov. Ted Kulongoski's budget: a $665 million communications system that would allow the state's public safety agencies to talk with one another on their radios.

Democrats and Republicans balked at an expensive proposal that state officials had barely explained, let alone justified. Since then, the state's economy has foundered, and legislators are about to make the deepest cuts in a generation to schools, health care, colleges and services to the state's most vulnerable people.

But the radio project -- called the Oregon Wireless Interoperability Network -- lives on."
We will be able to communicate better - Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman: "This week I want to provide an update on a project with great importance - Nebraska’s Public Safety Communications System. Many people have been involved in this effort and we are now moving into the final stages of development.

"Nebraska has been recognized for our efforts in emergency preparedness. We are planning to take a major step forward this year as we prepare to launch a statewide communications system. Providing a way for first responders and other emergency personnel to talk to one another is an essential element for ensuring a coordinated emergency response."
CaaS: Communications-as-a-Service: "What do Web 2.0 social networks, Web conferencing services, and enterprise applications have in common? All three applications are being revolutionized and transformed by adding next-generation voice and rich-media features through CaaS, short for 'Communications-as-a-Service,' a hosted on-demand model for adding communications capabilities to applications and services without upfront capital costs.

CaaS brings social networking, cloud computing, and smartphones together, providing cloud-technologies that let users communicate via voice, text, and rich media on whatever device they prefer to use. To compete in this marketplace, software vendors, enterprises, and service providers must introduce communications-enhanced services that meet a surging need for value, efficiency, cost reduction, and convenience.

To meet these needs, CaaS providers offer cloud-based telecommunications services that can be integrated into software applications and Web services. The idea is new: Vendors can take advantage of this approach -- adding voice services to applications -- by using a standards-based API. CaaS capabilities can include voice-over-IP (VoIP), instant messaging, conferencing, collaboration, and videoconference applications using fixed and mobile devices. The end result of this CaaS-driven process is most commonly referred to as 'communications enabled business processes.'"
Remarks by Secretary Napolitano to the President's National Security Telecommunications Advisory Committee: "Anyway, you know, because I thought you could just say: interoperability—come on. What's so hard about this? And have come to appreciate that it is not just a snap of the finger, although I also have come to suspect that it has to be easier than it's being made out to be in the sense of feasibility with the technologies that we do have. So this is an area that we really have on our list at Homeland Security to get this accomplished for once and for all—to have interoperability among first responders in particular should there be either a terrorist attack or a natural disaster that takes out our standard communications equipment."
Interoperable Public Safety Networks Take Many Forms, but What Is Mission Critical?: "Interoperability takes many guises, but the basic concept of communicating between and within U.S. agencies and jurisdictions is an essential issue that's being worked out, albeit slowly. Public safety agencies typically have operated independently, but 9/11 and other events showed the importance of sharing vital information to enable more effective, rapid decision-making.

Unfortunately a large percentage of public safety communities may be woefully unprepared for major incidents. These include emergency medical events; hazardous material spills; terrorist attacks; natural and man-made disasters, such as industrial accidents or structural fires; search-and-rescue operations; and hostage crises. These require a large-scale, multiagency response."

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Oregon emergency communications system proposal faces disconnect: "Lawmakers came to Salem two years ago to find a surprise waiting for them in Gov. Ted Kulongoski's budget: a $665 million communications system that would allow the state's public safety agencies to talk with one another on their radios.

Democrats and Republicans balked at an expensive proposal that state officials had barely explained, let alone justified. Since then, the state's economy has foundered, and legislators are about to make the deepest cuts in a generation to schools, health care, colleges and services to the state's most vulnerable people.

But the radio project -- called the Oregon Wireless Interoperability Network -- lives on."

Thursday, May 14, 2009

New radios might have avoided injury: "West Chester Township’s [OH] police chief said today that a soon-to-be-completed radio system in Butler County might have helped prevent the communication problems that contributed to the serious injuries suffered by a Lockland police officer during a chase April 20 that started in West Chester and ended in Over-the-Rhine.

The comments were part of a press conference held this morning by Chief Erik Niehaus to discuss findings from a report that came out over the weekend from the Ohio State Highway Patrol."

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Little-known federal law is causing headaches for grant applicants: "Public-safety agencies vying for a portion of the $1 billion available through the Public Safety Interoperable Communications, or PSIC, grant program are encountering an unforeseen roadblock: the National Environmental Policy Act, or NEPA. The law requires that any program that receives federal funds, such as the PSIC — which is administered by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration — must demonstrate that their projects will have no significant detrimental impact to natural and human environments, including those of a cultural nature."

Monday, April 20, 2009

Verizon urges scrapping D-Block auction process: "Verizon Wireless is proposing Congress and the FCC scrap a plan to re-auction the 700 MHz D-Block and instead focus on a new plan to create a nationwide, interoperable, 4G broadband network for first responders, according to a company executive.

Steve Zipperstein, Verizon's vice president for legal and external affairs and the carrier's general counsel, said the government should not rehash a process that has already failed (D-Block bids during last year's 700 MHz auction did not pass the required $1.3 billion reserve). Thus, Zipperstein argued for a new approach--one far different than the FCC's proposed D-Block re-auction.

Speaking at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., Zipperstein called for allocating the D-Block spectrum directly to public safety organizations on a state, local and regional basis, which he said would give public safety more control over the spectrum. Zipperstein said that 'bold action' was necessary to 'overcome the inertia' of creating an interoperable network for public safety."
A thorough analysis of Jordan's Emergency Communication Interoperability Plan reveals an inadequate status and proposes remedies.: "A new report from Arab Advisors Group analyzes Jordan's current Emergency Communications Interoperability Plans (JECIP), policies, Emergency Operation Plans (EOPs) and compares Jordan's Humanitarian Assistance/Disaster Relief (HA/DR) communications readiness level with that in the United States.

The thorough analysis results in proposed amendments to Jordan's Emergency Communications Interoperability Plan (JECIP). These suggestions are based on the analysis of the technological aspects of emergency communications, Jordan's communications environment, the requirements analysis of the emergency communications plan, and lessons learned from the U.S.'s experience in emergency communications."

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

New York Statewide Wireless Interoperable Communications Network Refocused on Regional Systems: "New York state spent the second half of the Bush Administration and over $100 million developing a statewide wireless network it was hoped would provide public safety and public service agencies across the state with interoperable communications only to go back to the drawing board earlier this month. The network, which was expected to cost $2 billion, was the largest IT project in the state's history. The state Office for Technology awarded the contract to build the system to M/A-COM in April 2004. After problems with several rounds of testing the state officially terminated its contract with M/A-COM in January of this year.

During a testing period in November 2008 the network had 14.5 cumulative hours of down time, which is well above the U.S. standard of just 52.6 minutes per year. Nearly a third of the radios had malfunctioned, a spokeswoman for OFT told Government Technology in January. And so the New York State's Statewide Interoperability Advisory Council met in late March to discuss the path forward. State CIO Melodie Mayberry-Stewart announced the appointment of Harry J. Corbitt, superintendent of the New York State Police as co-chairman of a refocused advisory council, and representatives of first responders provided their perspectives on moving forward."

Friday, April 03, 2009

AT&T lobbyist urges Congressional action: World governments need to do more to fight cyberterrorism and protect the Internet from attacks, because the Web has become so vital to commerce and communications, AT&T Inc.'s top lobbyist told reporters today.

"The [U.S.] government is not playing the role it should have all along," said James Cicconi, senior executive vice president of external and legislative affairs at AT&T. "The government ought to play a coordinating role in cybersecurity."
Additionally, Cicconi urged the Federal Communications Commission and Congress to do more to support interoperability of the radio communication systems used by emergency first-responders, so that they can communicate more easily with one another. That same plea was made earlier today in a CTIA conference keynote address by Ivan Seidenberg, CEO of Verizon Communications Inc., who called for giving radio spectrum to first responders, including thousands of police and fire departments nationwide.

Cicconi said the current policy has failed because it's designed to encourage a public-private partnership for radio interoperability. "Congress has tried to do [interoperability] on the cheap," he claimed. "We can't go through another terrorist attack [such as 9/11] without such an important provision in place."

He suggested that Congress should hold hearings on what to do, saying that, among other things, lawmakers should consider funding first responder units nationwide to deal with setting up interoperable technologies.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

NIST Announces P25 CAP Lab Evaluation Processes: "To help ensure that first responders, public safety officers and military personnel can always talk with each other no matter what communications equipment they are using (a characteristic known as interoperability), the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) have teamed up to create the Project 25 Conformity Assessment Program (P25 CAP).

The latest milestone of the recently launched program is the publication of the 2009 edition of NIST Handbook 153, Laboratory Recognition Process for Project 25 Compliance Assessment. The guide details the procedures by which independent testing laboratories can be evaluated for their ability to determine how well public safety and emergency communications devices meet the performance standard for interoperability known as Project 25 (P25)."

Monday, March 23, 2009

HK airport upgrades digital radio system: "The Hong Kong International Airport (HKIA) has last week completed the deployment of its digital radio communication system.

TETRA (TErrestrial Trunked RAdio), the digital radio communication system for Asia's busiest aviation hub, was provided by Motorola, the US-based communications company. Migration of the airport's analogue system to a new digital TETRA system took just seven months."

HK airport upgrades digital radio system - Network World

HK airport upgrades digital radio system: "The Hong Kong International Airport (HKIA) has last week completed the deployment of its digital radio communication system.

TETRA (TErrestrial Trunked RAdio), the digital radio communication system for Asia's busiest aviation hub, was provided by Motorola, the US-based communications company. Migration of the airport's analogue system to a new digital TETRA system took just seven months."
A Message that Washington Needs to Hear — and Heed: "Yesterday at the International Wireless Communications Exposition, keynote speaker Steve Zipperstein, Verizon Wireless‘ vice president of legal affairs and general counsel, outlined a plan for the network that would give the 10 MHz of airwaves in the 700-MHz band, the so-called D Block, to public safety, rather than auction it to commercial operators. The spectrum would be allocated in the form of local, regional and state licenses. This is an interesting about-face. Recall that the wireless carriers, led by their lobbying group, the Cellular Telecommunications and Internet Association, were adamantly against giving the D Block to first responders when the notion of this network first was floated three years ago at IWCE by Cyren Call’s Morgan O’Brien."

Friday, March 20, 2009

Interoperable Communications Biggest State Challenge in Homeland Security, says NGA Survey: "The National Governors Association Center for Best Practices (NGA Center) today released the results of its fifth annual survey of governor's homeland security advisors. The 2008 survey provides an overview of the homeland security landscape at the state level, both in terms of how states have structured themselves for their homeland security missions and in the issues and challenges that dominate their agendas, and offers a clear assessment of the DHS-state relationship. Among the key findings from the survey:

* More than 75 percent of respondents expressed satisfaction with their communication with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), a significant increase compared to the 42 percent satisfaction rate reported in 2007
* According to survey respondents, developing interoperable communications is the issue for which states most need federal assistance -- in the form of funding and guidance"
Lawmakers want more interoperability in emergency comms: "“We have spent a fortune on these communications devices,” Rogers said, adding that the efforts have not led to the needed interoperability of state, local and federal communications systems.

“It appears to me that money obviously isn’t going to be the answer, it’s going to be having to force legislatively some coordination on interoperability,” Rogers added. “Otherwise people will continue buying the latest gadget that they personally like, or that somebody can convince them they like, and it’s not going to meet their interoperability needs.”"
Interoperability: Surmounting the Tower of Babel: "One of the enduring findings of the 9/11 report was the fact that first responders on the ground in New York were unable to communicate readily with reach other in the first hours after the crisis. Congress responded by approving funds for an envisioned nationwide emergency communications system, but now lawmakers are wondering if taxpayers will ever get a truly interoperable system to solve the problem.

One of the big topics on Capitol Hill these days, interoperability was the focus of an oversight hearing by the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security. Here's the crux of the hearing, boiled down to this frustrating reality voiced by Kentucky Republican Hal Rogers, ranking member of the subcommittee, who rankles at the one billion dollars appropriated thus far by Congress to improve first responder interoperability: 'Over the last three fiscal years, only 6.4% has been spent. That means there's more than $997 million that could be out on the streets helping our first responders meet their interoperability needs.'"
Wyoming Cleared for Use of Federal Frequencies: "On February 5, 2009, Wyoming’s emergency communications system became the first in the nation to be awarded space on the federal spectrum. The Public Safety Communications Commission (PSCC) has been working closely with the Departments of Interior and Homeland Security to secure this certification from the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA). This certification represents a shift in policy by the NTIA in allowing frequency use by a state."

Friday, March 06, 2009

Cyren Call No Longer Official Emergency Communications Advisor for PSST: "Cyren Call's role as emergency communications advisor has apparently run aground on the rocks of economic turmoil, a new administration and the 'indefinite hiatus in the regulatory processes toward creation of a nationwide network for public safety.'

The company said Friday it will no longer be the official adviser to the Public Safety Spectrum Trust, which was tapped by the FCC to be the licensee of a 10 mhz swatch of spectrum the commission set aside for emergency communications as part of its 700 mhz spectrum auction last year. It was to have been paired with a 10 mhz block of commercial spectrum in a public-private partnership, but nobody bid the minimum price for the commercial block and the FCC is now trying to figure out how to attract a bidder when it re-auctions the spectrum."

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Officials eye a geospatial 'Virtual USA': "Federal and state authorities are collaborating on a project that would allow state and local caches of geospatial data to be interoperable and more useful with the goal of creating a 'Virtual USA' for emergency response purposes.

The Homeland Security Department’s Science and Technology Directorate recently sponsored a first meeting where officials from several Southern states discussed their efforts to manage and use geospatial data and how they could share it with each other. Officials say the goal is to make local- and state-owned geospatial data interoperable and usable across jurisdictions, with non-federal authorities maintaining control over the data and deciding what data to share.

The program was inspired by the success that Alabama had in using information gathered at a local level to aid first responders. The recent meeting was hosted by Alabama’s Homeland Security Department, which created Virtual Alabama. That is a system built on Google Earth Enterprise software that allows authorities to create data mashups by quickly pulling together information from an array of sources across the state’s 67 counties and make it available to first responders."

Saturday, February 28, 2009

'Public agencies should adopt interoperability': "There is a snowballing chorus across various stake holders in Bangalore city that there should be an effective disaster management programme and it should be backed by robust communication tools and technology."
"Detailing how various government agencies should swing into action during a emergency, experts details that public safety agencies must act immediately and coordinate with ambulance service, fire safety department, special task force, and riot and traffic control police. In such an environment quick action is of utmost importance. Present communication system handles only day-to-day operations of individual agencies and not cross-functional requirements."
"Technology analysts detail that without good Interoperable communications, state and local agencies cannot communicate as one entity and respond in a coordinated and effective manner to save lives, homes and establishments. “An avalanche of voice communications over different network solutions can simply overwhelm you. If vital organisations like police, fire and other emergency communications systems failed to “talk” together at a moment’s notice when an emergency situation cropped up, the result would be disastrous,” he noted.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Twisted radio beams could untangle the airwaves: "The human race is not only exhausting tangible resources such as oil. The radio frequency spectrum available for wireless communication is becoming the increasingly crowded, with virgin 'veins' of frequency running short. However, Swedish physicists say that twisting radio beams into a helical shape as they are transmitted could help ease the congestion. Radio frequency encompasses electromagnetic waves between 3 kilohertz and 300 gigahertz, and as wireless communications technology advances much of that range is being used."

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Georgia Public-Safety Radio Network Years in the Making: "Having interoperable communications during an emergency can be priceless for first responders and the public, but rolling out the network can take years. The Georgia Interoperability Network allows statewide communication for first responders without requiring counties to replace existing radio equipment. By retaining the counties' current radio equipment, the state has achieved widespread buy-in among first responders in Georgia's 159 counties.

The Georgia State Patrol owns the network, which was funded by a multimillion dollar grant from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Law Enforcement Terrorism Prevention Program. The state patrol, Georgia Emergency Management Agency (GEMA) and the Georgia Tech Research Institute (GTRI) collaborated on the network. Production on the network began two years ago and is expected to be completed December 2009."

Friday, January 23, 2009

Napolitano cites need to help state, local governments: "President-elect Obama's pick to lead the sprawling Homeland Security Department today pledged to forge better relationships with state and local governments, especially when it comes to dealing with the large price tag of some homeland security-related activities.

Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano told the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee during her confirmation hearing that one of the main reasons she was selected to lead the department is because she has experience dealing with homeland security issues at the state and local government level.

'The federal government cannot do the homeland security function alone,' she said. 'That is something that I hope to spend a great deal of effort on.'

She indicated she would seek more funding to help state and local governments buy radios that are interoperable, allowing emergency responders to communicate with each other across jurisdictions and during disasters. She said the lack of funding for interoperable radios, along with the lack of technical expertise within the federal government, has stymied efforts in states like Arizona."
Senate nears deal to delay digital TV transition: "The Senate appeared close to agreement late Thursday on a bill to delay next month's planned transition from analog to digital television broadcasting to June 12 — setting the stage for a vote early next week. Senate Republicans last week blocked Democratic efforts to push back the Feb. 17 deadline for the analog shutoff. The Democrats cited mounting concerns that too many Americans who rely on analog TV sets to pick up over-the-air broadcast signals won't be ready."

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

APCO Asks Obama to Consider National Broadband Network Funding : "In a letter to President-Elect Barack Obama, Chris Fischer, president of the Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials (APCO) International, expressed the organization’s support for federal funding for the development of a national public-safety network in the 700 MHz spectrum."
Sprint Nextel Requests $2B for Emergency Network: "Sprint Nextel asked Barack Obama’s transition team to fund a $2 billion emergency network to make first responders better able to communicate during disasters. The company outlined its 5-year plan to Obama's transition team in a letter earlier this month."

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Buncefield: Hertfordshire Fire And Rescue Service's Review Of The Fire Response: "Buncefield: Hertfordshire Fire and Rescue Service's review of the fire response

The Explosion and fire at the Buncefield Oil Storage Depot involved 22 tanks. The main fires were extinguished in three days but the overall fire response lasted 26 days and 642 fire appliances were moved to the incident. This report sets out the chronological sequence of events and reviews the fire response. It covers pre-planning and pre-training; the response of the Hertfordshire Fire and Rescue Service; the response by other fire provider and supporting organisations; and presents the learning points of local, national, and international significance, which are drawn both from good practice at the incident and the areas that could have been improved."

[Ed: Correspondents advise that this report details communications issues in depth.]

Sunday, January 11, 2009

New York State Said to Be Close to Dropping Police Radio Project: "[New York] State officials are close to canceling a $2 billion contract to build a statewide wireless network for emergency agencies after critical tests on the network failed late last year, according to state officials briefed on the results.

Lawyers for the vendor, M/A-COM, a subsidiary of Tyco Electronics, sent the state a letter on Friday threatening to sue if officials follow through on their plan to shut down the project, which was intended to improve radio communications throughout the state, but particularly in remote areas where police agencies have trouble talking to one another."

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

FCC's Plans to Boost Public Safety Wireless Interoperability Meets Obstacles: "Current FCC proceedings focus on creating a nationwide public-safety band for wireless communications among first responders. Ryan Hallahan and Jon Peha sum up the opportunities this rulemaking holds in their 2008 paper, Quantifying the Costs of a Nationwide Broadband Public Safety Wireless Network: 'The problems facing the public safety wireless communication systems in the U.S. could be significantly reduced or eliminated through the deployment of a single nationwide network that serves all public safety personnel.' On Sept. 25, 2008, the FCC released a Third Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking after the auction for the proposed public safety band failed to achieve its reserve price. The third notice strives to achieve 'the goal of a nationwide interoperable broadband wireless network for public safety entities.'"
PSST Pushes Emergency Spectrum Use: "The Public Safety Spectrum Trust (PSST) wants President-elect Barrack Obama to make a proposed shared interoperable emergency communications network part of his proposed economic stimulus plan, arguing it could create millions of jobs, upgrade emergency communications, and provide the broadband link to underserved communities nationwide that Obama is seeking."