By Ron Hewitt, Director
Office of Emergency Communications
Department of Homeland Security
On behalf of the Office of Emergency Communications (OEC), I am pleased to present the Fiscal Year 2016 SAFECOM Guidance on Emergency Communications Grants (SAFECOM Guidance). The SAFECOM Guidance is updated annually to provide current information on emergency communications policies, eligible costs, best practices, and technical standards for State, local, tribal, and territorial grantees investing Federal funds in emergency communications projects.
The FY 2016 SAFECOM Guidance aligns with the updated National Emergency Communications Plan (NECP). The 2014 NECP emphasizes the need to enhance the policies, governance structures, plans, and protocols that enable responders to communicate and share information under all circumstances. It aims to maximize the use of all communications capabilities available to public safety officials—voice, video, and data—and to ensure the security of data and information exchange. To accomplish this, grantees must engage the whole community in preparedness activities. Similarly, the FY 2016 SAFECOM Guidance addresses the rapidly evolving emergency communications ecosystem and encourages grantees to support the concepts and recommendations within the 2014 NECP.
This year’s funding priorities remain consistent with previous SAFECOM Guidance releases. Grantees are strongly encouraged to coordinate with their statewide governance and emergency communications leaders (e.g., Statewide Interoperability Coordinators) to ensure projects support the State or territory’s strategy to improve interoperable emergency communications. In addition, grantees should work with public and private entities, and across jurisdictions and disciplines, to assess needs, plan projects, coordinate resources, and improve response through cross-training and joint exercises.
The SAFECOM Guidance also encourages grantees to participate, support, and invest in planning activities that will help States or territories prepare for deployment of new emergency communications systems or technologies. At the same time, the SAFECOM Guidance recognizes the need to sustain current land mobile radio (LMR) systems. Grantees should continue developing plans and standard operating procedures, conducting training and exercises, and investing in standards-based equipment to sustain LMR capabilities, while concurrently planning for the deployment of new technologies. Grantees should also consider cybersecurity risks across all capabilities when planning operable, interoperable, and continuity of communications.
As in previous years, OEC developed the FY 2016 SAFECOM Guidance in partnership with SAFECOM and the National Council of Statewide Interoperability Coordinators. OEC also consulted Federal partners and the Emergency Communications Preparedness Center, to ensure that emergency communications policies are coordinated and consistent across the Federal Government. OEC encourages grantees to consult the SAFECOM Guidance when developing emergency communications investments, and to direct any questions to my office at firstname.lastname@example.org.