OEC at IWCE: Day One

Author: Ken Bradley, Department of Homeland Security (DHS) National Protection and Programs Directorate (NPPD) Office of External Affairs

International Wireless Communications Expo

The International Wireless Communications Expo (IWCE) is the leading event for communications technology, bringing over 7,000 industry professionals all in one place.  The Office of Emergency Communications (OEC) is partnering with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Office of Science and Technology (S&T) at Exhibit Hall on Wednesday and Thursday in Booth #3345, but first OEC is partnering with its public safety partners in four sessions today.

What is NG911?

One of the first panels of the day focused on Next Generation 911 (NG911).  The topic of this panel is timely, as it was just a few weeks after the 50th celebration of the first 911 call.  This panel of experts described how far 911 technology has come as the public reaches out for public safety services.  911 technologies have changed to include improvements on location services, but NG911 enables the public to send digital data and information to public safety answering points (PSAPs).  This includes text to 911, a data exchange (photos and videos) as more devices are connected to the internet of things.  When the public sends data to a PSAP, 911 is able to share that information with other responders and other 911 centers, enabling them to better serve the public using NG911. 

However, with all technological changes there are cultural changes- data overload, regionalization, cost sharing.  The panel conveyed the importance of personal relationships to assisting the adoption governance structures to address interoperability, mutual aid, and funding challenges which are key to implementing NG911.  To assist with these challenges, SAFECOM and the National Council of Statewide Interoperability Coordinators have established the NG911 Working Group, which is made of members from both groups and other subject matter experts from the National Emergency Numbing Association (NENA), the National Association of State 911 Administrators, and the National 911 Program within the Department of Transportation.

How the Next Generation of Statewide Interoperability Coordinators Can Help You

Do you know who the Statewide Interoperability Coordinator (SWIC) is within your state?  If not than you are missing out on a key resource within your state or territory.  The National Council of Statewide Interoperability Coordinators (NCSWIC) is made up of all 56 SWICs from each state, territory, and the District of Columbia.  SWICs play a critical role in public safety communications operability and interoperability and are the charged with supporting the Statewide Communications Interoperability Plan (SCIP) and emergency communications governance within their state, including land mobile radios (LMR), 911, alerts and warning, and broadband technologies.

The NCSWIC has four committees including, Governance, Planning, Training, and Exercises, Technology Policy, and Funding and Sustainment, the latter two they partner with SAFECOM.  Through the NCSWIC committees, the SWICs put together many resources every year including national best practices and policy. 

Project 25 Compliance Assessment Program (P25 CAP): Updates, Upgrades, and Up Next

The Department of Homeland Security Project 25 Compliance Assessment Program (P25 CAP) is the only formal, independent process for ensuring communications equipment declared by the supplier actually is P25 compliant.  The Office of Science and Technology provided an update on the P25 CAP to include how equipment is tested against the standards with publicly published results.  S&T continues to work with Industry and public safety stakeholders to identify new labs to take on testing requirements of P25 equipment.  The panel also dove into Inter RF Subsystem Interface (ISSI) and Console Subsystem Interface (CSSI) testing, gaps that exist in the current P25 standards and the need to develop comprehensive testing for the ISSI/CSSI technologies. 

Project 25 User’s Perspective, Interoperability, and Customer Applications Update for 2018

This working session offered P25 user experiences and case studies from a federal, state, and local perspective.  Each panelist provided their unique perspective on how interoperability is improved through application of P25 technologies.  Each discussed the provision of mutual aid, partnerships, comprehensive planning and offered lessons learned.  These best practices included tips for programming and radio management, incident management to system planning for upgrades, migration, or encryption. 

Preparing Communications for Disaster Operations

Are you prepared for the next disaster?  If not this presentation discussed the need for disaster communications planning.  This session covered the planning and steps required to deploy a Joint Communications Support Unit for disaster response and how the National Emergency Management Association (NEMA) provides resources through the Emergency Management Assistance Compact (EMAC).  EMAC is a national interstate mutual aid agreement that enables states to share resources during times of disaster.  EMAC acts as a complement to the federal disaster response system, providing timely and cost-effective relief to states that are requesting assistance from other member states.  Additionally, the OEC is developing a technical assistance offering to assist states in building mission ready packages to expedite response efforts.  This session was loaded with lessons learned, best practices, and examples from how planning for communications to first responders and disaster relief personnel during response are key to recovery.