Public Safety Strategic Collaboration Meeting: Day 1

Author: Ken Bradley, Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) Office of External Affairs

SAFECOM  Meeting

Today, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) partnered with SAFECOM to kick off the Public Safety Strategic Collaboration Meeting in Pittsburgh, PA.  The day had a range of presentations and interactive panels with public safety partners from around the U.S. and all levels of government.

State of the State

The first presentation of the day came from our host Statewide Interoperability Coordinator (SWIC), Mark Wrightstone, Pennsylvania SWIC.  Mark provided updates from around the Commonwealth about their alerts, warning, and notifications system; enhanced 911 system; and broadband and land mobile radio systems.  Coverage maps for new Project 25 (P25) VHF systems and broadband coverage from the First Responder Network Authority were shared.

2019 National Emergency Communications Plan (NECP)

The NECP is in its third iteration, the first was in 2008 and the second was in 2014.  CISA is required to update the NECP periodically and Nationwide Baseline Assessment every five years.  The 2019 version incorporates feedback and data from 2018 SAFECOM Nationwide Survey, addresses improvements in technology such as broadband including the Nationwide Public Safety Broadband Network built by the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet), Next Generation 911, and cybersecurity threats and vulnerabilities, while also sustaining legacy systems.  The NECP expands on the emergency communications ecosystem developed in the 2014 NECP, utilizing a new graphic to explain how emergency communications occur as technology and threats continue to expand and change. 

Eric Runnels, CISA; Chris Lombard, SAFECOM; and Mike Murphy, SAFECOM discussed how public safety’s feedback was incorporated into the 2019 Plan including members from SAFECOM and NCSWIC participating in a working group, publishing the draft document for public comment, and stakeholder adjudication meeting.

Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology (S&T) Updates

During this session, SAFECOM members received an update from Sridhar Kowdley, DHS Science and Technology Directorate, Office of Interoperability and Compatibility (OIC).  The panel discussed the recent S&T reorganization and current work performed through OIC.  Specifically, the session highlighted the December Next Generation First Responder (NGFR) Technology Experiment held in Houston and the P25 Compliance Assessment Program (CAP).  Sridhar discussed efforts to establish a laboratory to test equipment to ensure it complies with P25 standards. He also highlighted alerts, warnings, and notifications guidance materials and information sharing assessment tools available to stakeholders.

The Impact of Emerging Technology on Public Safety Communications: The California Experience

Budge Currier, California Statewide Interoperability Coordinator (SWIC), discussed recent efforts in California to deploy a cloud-based computer-aided dispatch (CAD) and Next Generation 911 (NG911) across California. This session highlighted best practices and lessons learned for integrating new technologies to promote interoperability.  The session also highlighted lessons learned from recent wildfire response efforts and sending alerts, warnings, and notifications.

Drones and Public Safety

Former SAFECOM Chair, Chief Charles Werner (Ret.), National Public Safety Council of Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) was joined by Anna Gomez, Attorney, Wiley Rein LLP, and Sarah Ellis Peed, CISA.  Chief Werner provided footage from recent incidents where drones were used to assist public safety during wild fires, protest rallies, lava flow, and bridge collapses.   Drones are safely able to provide hazardous environmental feedback to responders during search and rescues, evacuations, and assist with law enforcement incidents.  Anna covered rules, regulations, and requirements for operating UAS, as Congress and the FAA continue to update regulations to provide oversight.  As UAS technology continues to evolve, so do the laws and regulations to users.  Sarah, CISA National Risk Management Center, discussed risk and vulnerabilities for safe and secure use of UAS regarding payloads; however, focus was given to how to operate safely and securely.  In addition to drones being used by public safety, adversaries are interested in gaining access to data and footage.  Similar to body cameras, public safety needs to secure the data and information from drones.  Public safety should think about how the data being stored, transferred, secured, as well as supply chain risk.  Counter UAS includes jammers to disrupt communications.  Sarah urged SAFECOM members and their communities to participate in Critical Infrastructure Advisory Council (CIPAC) working groups that are working on the new authorities that are being authorized to the Department of Homeland Security for counter UAS. 

Smarten Up: The Intersection of Public Safety Communications and Smart City Technologies

Karen Lightman, Executive Director, Metro21: Smart Cities Institute, Carnegie Mellon University (CMU), Dr. Leonard Weiss, Assistant Professor of Emergency Medicine, EMS Medical Director, Assistant Medical Director, STAT MedEvac, University of Pittsburgh, Dr. Jon Peha, Professor of Electrical Engineering and Public Policy CMU, Santiago Garces, Director Innovation and Performance, Chief Innovation Officer City of Pittsburgh, and Chief Werner discussed challenges related to increasing interconnectivity of urban technologies, as demonstrated through Smart Cities, and how data interoperability and management pose unique challenges and opportunities to SAFECOM.  Dr. Weiss provided examples where geolocation failed to save a young women’s life calling 911 from outside an emergency room, telemedicine responses to airlines in flight, as well as, his involvement in the tragedy at the Pittsburgh Tree of Life Synagogue active shooter incident.  Chief Werner discussed the importance of public safety participating in Smart City projects to ensure data interoperability.  Santiago discussed examples of recent flooding in South Bend, IN, where geo-mapping was used for evacuations, drones were used for structural assessments, and communications challenges with IT and public safety assisting with regional coordination.  Jon addressed how his research, working with public safety agencies, the FCC, and White House Office of Science and Technology Policy have effected real world events such as disseminating information to non-English speakers during disasters (Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico), body worn camera, and Smart Cities.  The panel addressed proposed questions from Karen and from the audience.

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