The Interoperable Communications Technical Assistance Program (ICTAP) serves all 56 states and territories and provides direct support to state, local, and tribal emergency responders and government officials through the development and delivery of training, tools, and onsite assistance to advance public safety interoperable communications capabilities.
Technical Assistance Service Offerings
Technical Assistance support covers all five lanes of the SAFECOM Interoperability Continuum, a tool developed by stakeholders and approved by DHS. These services, which are provided at no cost, include instruction and assistance with the planning, governance, operational, and technical aspects of developing and implementing interoperable communications initiatives. Technical Assistance service offerings are designed to help emergency responders continue to communicate during disasters or large-scale planned events. These offerings support Statewide Communication Interoperability Plans (SCIPs) and the National Emergency Communications Plan (NECP), the first strategic plan designed to increase interoperability across the Nation. The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) has completed over 1,000 Technical Assistance engagements in all 56 states and territories, ranging from Communications Leader Training (COML) to engineering studies of microwave backhaul.
CISA Technical Assistance services fall into the following general categories:
- Coordinated statewide governance (e.g. State Mapping Tool, Interoperable Communications Reference Guides, etc.)
- Comprehensive emergency communications planning (e.g. SCIPs, Tactical Interoperable Communications Plan [TICPs], and Field Operations Guides [FOGs])
- Next Generation 9-1-1 (NG9-1-1) planning and implementation
- Data operability and interoperability
- Alerts and warnings
- Broadband deployment
- Cybersecurity education and awareness
- Communications unit planning and procedures
CISA provides a Technical Assistance Catalog of service offerings, and has expanded it as a direct result of stakeholder feedback. The catalog features new and updated offerings to support planning for broadband, radio re-programming for narrowbanding, and workshops for dispatch and mobile communications vehicles operations. To view the catalog, visit https://www.dhs.gov/ictapscip-resources.
Public Safety Tools and Resources
CISA has developed several automated tools and training for emergency communications. The Communications Asset Survey and Mapping (CASM) Tool helps jurisdictions inventory their public safety emergency communications capabilities and assets and enables public safety organizations to share information on communication equipment. CISA also developed the Public Safety Software Tools on the SAFECOM website, which provides additional tools and support to the public safety community, including CASM, the Narrowband License Status Tool, the Response Level Communications Tool, the SWIC Portal, the online NIFOG and various computer based training courses.
Technical Assistance Support for the Nationwide Public Safety Broadband Network
CISA has recently updated the Technical Assistance catalog with a section of offerings specifically focused on assisting states with preparation and planning for deployment of the Nationwide Public Safety Broadband Network (NPSBN). Service offerings in this category will assist state/territory, tribal, regional and urban areas in understanding public safety broadband technology and support their planning for participation in the NPSBN. Since ICTAP introduced the first broadband Technical Assistance workshop in 2011, First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet Authority) has continued to identify the requirements and planning necessary for the deployment of the network. To meet the needs identified by the FirstNet Authority, CISA now offers eight separate Technical Assistance offerings focused on broadband. These offerings focus on broadband overview and education, governance, planning, and engineering, data collection, mobile data survey and analysis and strategic planning.
How to Request Technical Assistance Offerings/SCIP Offerings
CISA provides a portfolio of no-cost technical assistance services and will prioritize supporting strategic initiatives through efforts such as the National Governors Association (NGA) workshop goals and State Interoperability Markers. In 2018, CISA and the NGA partnered to conduct governance workshops across the nation that supported each state/territory in collaborating to identify goals to address challenges related to governance. Additionally, in 2019 CISA supported states and territories in establishing an interoperability baseline assessment by measuring progress against 25 markers. These markers describe a state or territory’s level of interoperability “health”.
New TA Approach: Requests for assistance are coordinated through the SWIC from each state and territory. This year there are three different categories of TAs:
- Strategic: Support that can be leveraged to directly support the implementation of the 2019 NECP, most recent SCIP, NGA workshop goals, and/or State Interoperability Markers
- State-Requested: Support for the state or territory’s normal, day-to-day operations and activities related to emergency communications
- Major Event Support: Support for planned and unplanned events that are designated as National Special Security Event (NSSE)/Special Event Assessment Rating (SEAR), or are the result of a natural or manmade disaster
CISA has released its Annual Training Calendar for the training classes it will sponsor across the Nation in addition to the courses the states choose to sponsor for themselves. These classes are open to all public safety candidates who meet the ICTAP prerequisite qualifications. Training is focused on communications and information sharing within the National Incident Management System Incident Command System (NIMS/ICS) to include Communications Unit Leader (COML), Communications Technician (COMT) and the newly developed Information Technology Service Unit Leader (ITSL) class and others.
How to Register for a Course
Interested individuals may request classes by sending an email request to TrainingRequest@commscollabcenter.com. Please include the course title and desired location in the subject line and include your contact information, agency details, and copies of the certificate of completion for each of the prerequisites defined in the course overview and other requested documentation. Please send one email for each course you wish to attend.
You can find the training calendar for each course by visiting the SAFECOM website at https://www.dhs.gov/ictapscip-resources.
For additional information on Technical Assistance, contact ECD@cisa.dhs.gov.