By Victoria Garcia
National Council of Statewide Interoperability Coordinators (NCSWIC) Funding and Sustainment Committee Chair
Hawaii Statewide Interoperability Coordinator (SWIC)
The SAFECOM/NCSWIC Funding and Sustainment Committee heard common feedback from members, and state and local stakeholders regarding the challenges faced securing and sustaining funding for their current mission critical land mobile radio (LMR) systems. While stakeholders acknowledged funding is always competitive, the need to explain why investment in the LMR systems is necessary seems even more urgent, particularly because of the ongoing work by the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) to build a new nationwide public safety broadband network (NPSBN). While this is an important effort and will provide great benefit to public safety, stakeholders continually found themselves explaining, or trying to explain, the difference between LMR and Long Term Evolution (LTE) offerings, and why continued investment in LMR – specifically, funding to sustain mission critical voice – is still important and still needed.
The SAFECOM/NCSWIC Funding and Sustainment Committee responded by preparing three white papers on LMR technologies – also known as the “LMR Trio.” These documents can be used to educate decision-makers and funders as to the importance of LMR technologies, and the need to sustain and support LMR systems throughout the development of the NPSBN. Those documents include:
- “LMR 101, Part I: Educating Decision Makers on LMR Technologies,” includes basic information for use in educating decision-makers about the importance of LMR technologies. The paper includes simple diagrams, terminology, history, and current usage of LMR technologies by public safety agencies.
- “LMR for Decision Makers, Part II: Educating Decision Makers on LMR Technology Issues,” provides information about emerging technologies, and the impact such technologies will have on LMR systems as they evolve. Information includes discussion of the LMR-to-LTE transition, and the need to sustain mission critical voice through such transition.
- “LMR for Project Managers, Part III: A P25 Primer for Project Managers and Acquisition Managers,” delivers an introduction about standards-based (i.e., Project 25 [P25]) purchasing, and an overview of the P25 standard explaining its importance to public safety interoperability.
Stakeholders can leverage these documents in several ways:
- The white papers may be given directly to decision makers
- Links to the LMR Trio may be included in an agency’s funding proposals
- Documents may be used to create customized presentations and talking points
The SAFECOM/NCSWIC Funding and Sustainment Committee encourages public safety agencies to use these documents when presenting LMR projects for funding to supplement the presentation. The papers provide a good overview of LMR terms and technologies and reasons why LMR systems should be maintained and sustained. The committee continues efforts to address stakeholder needs by further developing a brochure, presentation, and other supplemental materials. If there are questions about these papers, or if assistance is needed developing presentation products, please contact SAFECOMGovernance@hq.dhs.gov or NCSWICGovernance@hq.dhs.gov. The DHS/OEC staff have been great resources to the Committee and to them we say, “Mahalo!”