Public Safety Communications Resiliency - Ten Keys to Obtaining a Resilient Local Access Network


Authors:  Bill Ryan and Brice Hall, Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Office of Emergency Communications (OEC)

Government and public safety entities rely on voice and data communications networks to achieve their missions. Yet, one of the most critical and most vulnerable parts of these networks is often overlooked: the local access network. The local access network is the “last mile” connection between an agency’s on-site communications infrastructure and the service provider’s network. In the event of an undesirable incident, such as a cable cut, flood, or damage to the service provider’s facility, the local access network may be entirely lost, leaving an organization unable to perform mission-essential functions.

To help organizations mitigate these threats to communications continuity, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Office of Emergency Communications (OEC) is proud to present the Public Safety Communications Resiliency - Ten Keys to Obtaining a Resilient Local Access Network document. This document introduces resiliency concepts and provides ten keys to obtaining and maintaining resiliency in a local access network. OEC developed these ten fundamental steps, supported by descriptive text and visually-appealing graphics, as recommendations to help organizations maintain critical communications in emergency situations:

  1. Understand Communications Resiliency
  2. Document Current Network Implementation
  3. Identify Current Network Implementations within Organization Control
  4. Interface with Service Providers
  5. Check for Shared Facilities and Communications Links Among Service Providers
  6. Evaluate the Need for Alternative Path Solutions
  7. Check for Eligibility for OEC Priority Services
  8. Seek Partner Organizations and Campus Environments
  9. Maintain Vigilance
  10. Stay Up-to-Date with Alternate and Emerging Technologies

This document details important aspects of communications resiliency, such as knowing the exact network infrastructure in the local loop, interfacing with commercial service providers, and properly maintaining alternative path solutions. While these recommendations can mitigate a number of challenges, they should not be considered a comprehensive methodology for maintaining critical communications.

Communications resiliency is an important aspect of an organization’s mission-critical operations.  Network redundancy and diversity can help organizations continue to function properly in emergency situations. Organizations must ensure their networks are resilient in order to maintain operations and fulfill their missions. OEC is available to provide assistance to organizations throughout the process of improving network resiliency.

 

For additional information on public safety communications resiliency, please contact OEC at OEC-Routediversity@hq.dhs.gov.