Improving and enhancing emergency and interoperable communications is a national responsibility shared by federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial partners. The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) leads the Nation’s National Security/Emergency Preparedness (NS/EP) communications efforts. CISA has developed a framework with public safety personnel and government officials to implement solutions that address operability, interoperability, and continuity of communications.
Coordination is Key
CISA works directly with the first responder community to identify the daily challenges emergency responders face. This material informs policies, programs, and builds stronger relationships with state, local, tribal, and territorial (SLTT) agencies. These relationships are crucial to improve emergency communications. CISA leads engagement with partners at all levels of government – federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial– to improve public safety communications, national security, and emergency preparedness communications.
CISA updated the congressionally mandated National Emergency Communications Plan (NECP) in September 2019. The NECP is the Nation's over-arching strategic plan for enhancing emergency communications capabilities and interoperability nationwide. In addition, CISA assists its state and territorial partners in the development of Statewide Communications Interoperability Plans (SCIPs), which help make improvements to emergency communications across the Nation by advancing interoperability in a structured way.
Priority Telecommunications Services
Priority Telecommunications Services enable NS/EP personnel to communicate during congestion scenarios across the Nation. CISA offers the Government Emergency Telecommunications Service (GETS), Wireless Priority Service (WPS), and Telecommunications Service Priority (TSP) programs to state and local officials. These programs enhance call completion for select landline and wireless users by providing priority service during abnormal call volume on the publicly switched telephone network. For more information on GETS, WPS or TSP, visit https://www.cisa.gov/pts-videos, contact the Priority Telecommunications Service Center toll free at 866-627-2255, 703-676-2255, or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Statewide Interoperability Coordinators (SWICs)
Based on recommendations from emergency responders, CISA included a requirement in the 2008 NECP that every state and territory must have a single point of contact for interoperable emergency communications. The SWIC is a full-time position dedicated to coordinating statewide emergency communications and improving the ability of states and territories to implement SCIPs and the NECP.
As the central interoperability coordination point for its states, the SWIC plays a critical role. The SWIC works with emergency response leaders across all levels of government to implement a statewide strategic vision for interoperability. SWICs are responsible for the implementation and maintenance of the SCIPs through coordination and collaboration with the emergency response community. SWICs dedicate time and effort to educating the public safety community about SCIPs and enhancing their statewide governance structures. The SWIC facilitates governance, training and exercise, and policy efforts to promote interoperability across emergency response disciplines. SWICs formally serve as members of the National Council of Statewide Interoperability Coordinators (NCSWIC), a national governance body established to assist its members with promoting the critical importance of and best practices in interoperable communications. In this key role, SWICs contribute to the development of standard operating procedures; voice and data technologies; training, exercises, and outreach including education materials; and, federal emergency communications policies, plans, and services. This coordinated effort greatly enhances response capabilities by developing collaborative interoperable communications strategies at all levels of government. CISA supports the SWICs through bi-annual in-person meetings, quarterly newsletters, working group facilitation, and periodic conference calls. These activities allow SWICs to share best practices, lessons learned, including successes, and challenges related to SCIP implementation. The current list of the SWIC or SCIP point of contacts for all 56 states and territories is available at www.cisa.gov/safecom/ncswic-membership.