Public Safety Strategic Collaboration Meeting: Day 2

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


Today, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) partnered with SAFECOM and the National Council of Statewide Interoperability Coordinators (NCSWIC) for the second day of the Public Safety Strategic Collaboration Meeting in Pittsburgh, PA.  Today’s sessions included a range of presentations and interactive panels with public safety partners from around the U.S. and all levels of government.

Emerging Alerts, Warnings, and Notifications Capabilities

Antwane Johnson, Director, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Integrated Public Alert and Warning Systems (IPAWS) Program, and Budge Currier, California Statewide Interoperability Coordinator, presented on significant improvements to alerting and notification capabilities effective this fall.  Public safety organizations use alerts, warnings, and notifications to communicate weather conditions, evacuations, amber alerts, and more to the public.  Alerts can be sent in multiple languages and a variety of formats, including ring tones and text-to-speech.  Mr. Currier also provided examples of how California is integrating alerts and warnings into the state’s Next Generation 911 (NG911) and how it is being rolled out across the state.

Panel and Working Session: SAFECOM’s and NCSWIC’s Roles Instituting a “Security First” Perspective to Mitigate the Cyber Threat

Dusty Rhoads, CISA, opened up the session by discussing the importance of cybersecurity in the public safety community and the inclusion of cybersecurity initiatives in the National Emergency Communications Plan (NECP).  Michael Ogata, National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), Public Safety Communications Research Program (PSCR), discussed how to leverage the NIST Cybersecurity Framework for improving critical infrastructure and cybersecurity.  The goal of the framework is to provide a common language for cybersecurity policies and initiatives and guidance on how an organization can create their own cybersecurity initiatives.  Mark Hogan, SAFECOM (At-Large), Director of Asset Management, City of Tulsa, Oklahoma; Richard Jackson, Information Security Manager, Asset Management, City of Tulsa, Oklahoma; and Captain George Perera, SAFECOM (At-Large), Miami-Dade, Florida, Police Department, provided real-world examples of cybersecurity attacks on local systems and their large-scale effects on surrounding organizations and response.  Speakers emphasized utilizing the NIST Cybersecurity Framework as a first step and tool when developing cybersecurity policies and plans.

A Proposal: Leveraging SAFECOM and NCSWIC to Address Information Interoperability

Chief Jonathan Lewin, SAFECOM (Major Cities Chiefs Association), Chicago Police Department was joined by Rob Dew, CISA, and John Contestabile, Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, to engage SAFECOM and NCSWIC members on establishing a joint working group to further develop and implement an interoperability framework that addresses the need for end users to access standardized, interoperable, and consumable information at the scene.  Chief Lewin provided examples of data and information technology the City of Chicago has integrated to assist law enforcement in responding to incidents.  Chief Lewin’s examples were used to show a need for public safety to address this issue.  SAFECOM member Charlie Sasser, National Association of State Technology Directors, volunteered to participate in the working group.

SAFECOM/NCSWIC Committees and Working Groups

SAFECOM and NCSWIC broke out into committees and working groups for the afternoon, which included the following groups:

  • Joint Technology Policy Committee
  • SAFECOM Governance Committee
  • Next Generation 911 Working Group
  • NCSWIC Governance Committee
  • Joint Funding and Sustainment Committee
  • SAFECOM Education and Outreach Committee
  • NCSWIC Planning, Training, and Exercise Committee
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