Author: David Nolan, Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) Advanced Technology Section Head
Public safety voice and data communications are at risk of radio frequency (RF) interference, which can routinely disrupt services including 911 calls, essential land mobile radio (LMR) transmissions and long-term evolution (LTE) communication among first responders, and navigational systems using global positioning systems (GPS) or other satellite-based location services.
To mitigate potential risks to public safety communications, SAFECOM and the National Council of Statewide Interoperability Coordinators (NCSWIC), in collaboration with CISA and Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate, developed the Public Safety Radio Frequency Interference Best Practices Guidebook. Public safety agencies from government and non-government organizations alike can leverage the Guidebook and familiarize themselves with recognizing, reporting, and mitigating RF interference. Specifically, the document:
- Presents different types of RF interference and their implications to public safety communications;
- Summarizes ongoing efforts related to RF Interference awareness, preparation, and mitigation; and
- Offers information to help recognize, respond to, report, and resolve RF interference incidents.
Following a review of the current threats posed by RF interference, and based on previous S&T First Responder Electronic Jamming Exercises, SAFECOM, NCSWIC, CISA, and S&T recommend that public safety organizations:
- Train personnel to recognize and respond to RF interference;
- Create and routinely test a Primary, Alternate, Contingency, and Emergency Plan to ensure communications operability and resiliency;
- Familiarize themselves with how to report incidents of RF interference to the appropriate authorities; and
- Help legislators and regulators understand the value of RF interference enforcement legislation.
For additional information about this document or RF interference best practices, please contact: SAFECOMGovernance@hq.dhs.gov and NCSWICGovernance@hq.dhs.gov. For more communications resiliency resources, please visit https://www.dhs.gov/publication/communications-resiliency.