Author: Ken Bradley, Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) Office of External Affairs
International Wireless Communications Expo
The International Wireless Communications Expo (IWCE) is the leading event for communications technology, bringing together over 7,000 industry and public safety professionals. Today, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) is co-located with the Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) in the Exhibit Hall at Booth #715, as well as presenting alongside its public safety partners in three sessions.
CISA and the National Governors Association (NGA) have partnered on emergency communications governance for over a decade. Most recently, NGA and CISA coordinated on a Policy Academy on Enhancing Emergency Communications Interoperability in 2016with five states: Alaska, Hawaii, Illinois, Utah, and West Virginia. Outcomes from the academy provided states with four recommendations: 1) establish or reinvigorate statewide governance bodies, 2) engage legislators, 3) empower the Statewide Interoperability Coordinator (SWIC), and 4) revitalize the Statewide Communication Interoperability Plan (SCIP). Following the recommendations, CISA and NGA held five workshops with over 180 participants from 49 states and territories.
Top governance challenges identified from the workshops included: sustainable funding, executive branch support, authority and legislative support, elevation of the SWIC/Communications Champion, consolidated coordinated governance, governance body membership and participation, and coordination with locals. From there, 15 goals were developed, including efforts to further inform issues related to cybersecurity, interoperability, social media, and more.
During the session, Delaware and Michigan provided updates on progress made toward improving the structure and function of their governance bodies and how they are implementing recommendations. Both are focused on educating decisions makers and bringing them to the table to discuss the need for resources to support emergency communications interoperability in their states.
The panel also highlighted a recent publication, Emergency Communications Governance Guide for State, Local, Tribal, and Territorial Officials, recently posted on the SAFECOM Website and available in hard copy for the next two days at the CISA booth.
The public safety community has recognized the increasing need to protect sensitive information transmitted over its wireless communications systems. Additionally, as users continue to implement digital land mobile radio (LMR) technology such as Project 25 (P25), the relative cost of employing encryption services to protect this information has decreased with digital technology. The panelist discussed the value of encryption, as well as the need for public transparency and interoperability with outside resources.
As a result of the first responder environment becoming increasingly complex and dangerous, public safety users have identified a critical need for mutual aid interoperability and the ability to operate on other P25 systems in adjacent or statewide jurisdictions. During this session, speakers discussed the P25 Inter RF Subsystem Interface (ISSI) Console Subscriber System Interface (CSSI) technology, a standards-based internet protocol (IP) and Digital Fixed Station Interface DFSI, which permits both voice and control of the repeater.
CISA continues tomorrow with additional panels and exhibiting at IWCE. For CISA’s full schedule of events at IWCE, please visit the SAFECOM Blog.