Technology is a critical tool for improving interoperability that should meet the needs of practitioners on the front lines and should address regional needs, existing infrastructure, cost verses benefits, and sustainability. The resources below provide examples of the technology currently used in the public safety environment.
Technology Policy Resources
The Technology Policy Resources booklet contains several documents (listed below) developed by the Technology Policy Committee.
Alerts and Warnings
Wireless Emergency Alerts - General
Provides an overview of the Wireless Emergency Alerts, which is part of the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) Integrated Public Alert and Warning System.
First Responders Group Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) Research, Development, Test, and Evaluation (RDT&E)
Provides an overview of the Wireless Emergency Alerts Research, Development, Testing and Evaluation program, which enhances the national capability to deliver geographically targeted alert messages to mobile devices.
Public Safety Communications: Ten Keys to Improving Emergency Alerts, Warnings, and Notifications
This document, known as the “Ten Keys,” provides organizations a series of governance, coordination, planning, cybersecurity, and resiliency best practices to help ensure the successful implementation of their emergency alert, warning, and notification (AWN) systems and programs. Government and non-government emergency managers, alert originators, system administrators, system operators, and managers can leverage this foundational guidance to deliver timely and actionable messaging during the critical moments of an incident when coordinated communications—down to the second—can save lives.
Essentials of Alerts, Warnings and Notifications (AWNs)
SAFECOM and the National Council of Statewide Interoperability Coordinators (NCSWIC) developed this document in collaboration with the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) to provide an overview of existing national AWN systems. It is designed to offer public safety officials, Smart City planners, and alert originators the information and tools needed to familiarize themselves with AWN systems. It is the companion document to Ten Keys to Improving Emergency Alerts, Warnings, and Notifications.
Encryption in Three Minutes Video
Drawn from interviews with emergency communications practitioners nationwide, “Encryption in Three Minutes” presents an overview of LMR encryption in public safety operations. The video outlines encryption’s role in protecting sensitive tactical and operational communications as well as the personal identifiable information and medical status of civilian patients during emergencies. Discussion focuses on implementing a practical, reliable encryption system while preserving interoperability with mutual aid partners and outside agencies. Special attention is given to selecting the most secure encryption algorithm. It is an ideal brief overview of LMR encryption aimed at community leaders and public safety administrators, officials, and responders.
Guidelines for Encryption in Land Mobile Radio Systems
As a result from a number of security risk and vulnerability assessments, the public safety community has recognized the increasing effort to protect sensitive information transmitted over its wireless communications systems. The purpose of this document is to provide information that should be considered when evaluating encryption solutions to minimize the possibility of sensitive information being monitored, but are concerned with the cost of standards compliant encryption.
Best Practices for Encryption in P25 Public Safety Land Mobile Radio Systems
This document addresses methods to improve cross-agency coordination and emphasizes the use of standards-based encryption to enhance secure interoperability and minimize the risk of compromising sensitive information.
Best Practices for Encryption in P25 Public Safety Land Mobile Radio Systems - Developing Methods to Improve Encrypted Interoperability in Public Safety (Fact Sheet)
This document highlights best practices of key management necessary to allow encrypted operability and interoperability. These best practices are important in developing system security where encrypted interoperability is realizable. Additionally, significant planning and coordination must be undertaken to achieve encrypted interoperability on a national scale.
Considerations for Encryption in Public Safety Radio Systems
This document examines the complex issues of why encryption may be needed during critical operations of an urgent or time-sensitive nature or when open communications may not be sufficient to protect personally identifiable and/or sensitive information. This document provides guidance to public safety users through a process to assess the need for encryption as well as the questions that must be considered.
Considerations for Encryption in Public Safety Radio Systems - Determining the Need for Encryption in Public Safety Radios (Fact Sheet)
This document provides a high-level overview of all the factors public safety agencies and departments should thoroughly discuss and carefully considered before reaching a decision to encrypt their public safety radio systems.
Encryption Key Management Fact Sheet
Developed by SAFECOM and NCSWIC, in collaboration with the Federal Partnership for Interoperable Communications (FPIC), this fact sheet educates public safety organizations on how to effectively manage cryptographic keys for their radio systems. The ability for unauthorized persons to listen in on confidential and tactical information in radio transmissions has led many of these agencies to encrypt some or all radio transmissions. The document provides an overview of the various considerations for agencies desiring to encrypt their radios; summarizes what is involved in encryption and encryption key management; specifies which types of encryption are safest for use; and outlines why encryption key management is important.
Guidelines for Encryption in Land Mobile Radio Systems - Determining what Encryption Method to Use for Public Safety Radios
This document discusses methods that may be used to ensure the privacy of sensitive public safety LMR communications. These methods mainly involve the use of a variety of encryption techniques.
Operational Best Practices for Encryption Key Management
Developed by the FPIC, in collaboration with SAFECOM and NCSWIC, this document provides public safety organizations that have chosen to encrypt their radio transmissions with information on how to effectively obtain, distribute, and manage cryptographic keys. The document discusses the various types of encryption, how to obtain encryption keys, how to store them, and why it is important to periodically change encryption keys while still maintaining interoperability with partner agencies. This document, and the accompanying Encryption Key Management Fact Sheet, were published to guide public safety communications professionals on effectively managing encryption keys.
Interoperability Continuum: A tool for Improving Emergency Response Communications and Interoperability
The Interoperability Continuum provides a graphical depiction to demonstrate the five critical success factors to achieving interoperability. This tool also provides a framework from which all emergency response agencies at the Federal, State, local, and tribal levels could use to baseline their planning and implementation of interoperability solutions.
Moving Towards Credentialing Interoperability
Provides information to non-Federal organization and their decision makers about the value of strong credentialing practices using Federal standards.
Office for Interoperability and Compatibility (OIC) Fact Sheet
Provides background on OIC, which was established in 2004 to strengthen and integrate interoperability and compatibility efforts in order to improve Federal, State, local, and tribal emergency response and preparedness.
Operational Guide for the Interoperability Continuum: Lessons Learned and RapidCom
At the Urban Area Summit in 2004, participants convened to share best practices, lessons learned, and other experiences gained from planning and implementing communications interoperability solutions. This report shares the valuable information learned from that meeting and provides a framework for communities and regions to use in their communications interoperability planning efforts.
Priority Telecommunications Services for First Responders
CISA provides the following services to federal, state, local, territorial and tribal emergency personnel, as well as industry personnel, to ensure ongoing communications under all circumstances: Government Emergency Telecommunications Services (GETS), Wireless Priority Services (WPS), and Telecommunications Service Priority (TSP).
SAFECOM: The Road to Interoperability
This pamphlet describes the practical use of the Interoperability Continuum and its scalable ability to fit many types of disaster response.
Technology Guide for Communications Interoperability: A Guide for Interagency Communications Projects
Provides background on communications interoperability and tools to carry out technology initiatives that make interoperability possible.
Inter-RF Subsystem Interface (ISSI) Fact Sheet
This document provides an overview of the Inter-RF Subsystem Interface (ISSI), which provides a standards-based connection between two or more Project 25 (P25) networks to form a “system of systems.” An ISSI can be an invaluable tool to enhance interoperability, extend coverage, and permit system-to-system roaming between partnering agencies and increases the efficiency and reliability of interoperable communications during emergency response and daily operations.
Land Mobile Radio and Broadband
DHS S&T Modeling and Analysis for Public Safety Broadband
With legislation establishing the First Responder Network Authority, this document takes a look at the analysis needed to being planning for a national public safety broadband network.
The Hybrid Public Safety Microphone “Turtle Mike”
Introduces the Hybrid Public Safety Microphone, or “Turtle Mike,” which enhances legacy radio system capabilities by allowing the use of commercial broadband networks for improved communications interoperability.
Interoperability Planning for Wireless Broadband
Created in coordination with the emergency response community, this document assists Statewide Interoperability Coordinators with planning for wireless broadband use in emergency communications.
Inter Radio Frequency (RF) Subsystem Interface (ISSI) Technology: Interconnecting Networks
Provides a quick overview of the ISSI Technology.
Objective Speech Quality Estimates for P25/TLE Interconnections
Summarizes the key information collected throughout the Rapid Emergency-Level Interim Communications Interoperability (RapidCom) initiative.
Public Safety Communications Evolution Brochure (2019)
CISA updated this brochure in collaboration with SAFECOM and the National Council of Statewide Interoperability Coordinators (NCSWIC), with the support and input of public safety officials to help educate the public safety community and elected and appointed officials about the future of emergency communications.
The T-Band Giveback: Implications for the Public Safety Community
Created by SAFECOM and NCSWIC, this document provides the implications for the public safety community and the effects of the Public Law 112-96 to recover and auction T-Band spectrum.
Document Suite Overview: Request for Proposal (RFP) Best Practices for Land Mobile Radio (LMR) Subscriber Units Procurement Toolkit [RFP Toolkit Overview]
This document provides a high-level introduction to the RFP Toolkit to include the purpose and intended use of the toolkit, as well as brief descriptions of each toolkit component.
- Request for Proposal (RFP) Best Practices for Land Mobile Radio (LMR) Subscriber Units Procurement [Do's and Don'ts Document]: This document provides high-level best practices the public safety community should consider when planning and developing LMR subscriber unit RFPs.
- Request for Proposal (RFP) and Request for Information (RFI) Roles and Responsibilities for Land Mobile Radio (LMR) Subscriber Units Procurement [RFP Roles & Responsibilities Document]: This document outlines the roles and responsibilities which the public safety community should consider when creating a team to plan, develop, issue LMR subscriber unit RFPs.
- Request for Proposal (RFP) and Request for Information (RFI) Development Timeline for Land Mobile Radio (LMR) Subscriber Units Procurement [RFP Timeline Document]: This document outlines the timeline and significant steps involved in developing an RFP or RFI to purchase LMR subscriber units.
- Request for Proposal (RFP) and Request for Information (RFI) Sample Language and Resources for Land Mobile Radio (LMR) Subscriber Units Procurement [RFP Sample Language Document]: This document provides sample content structure and language, along with a list of general user resources, for developing LMR subscriber unit RFPs and RFIs.
Basics of Project 25 Video
Drawn from interviews with dozens of emergency communications practitioners nationwide, “Basics of P25” presents an overview of interoperability and P25. The video outlines P25’s role in public safety, its value in both daily operations and emergencies involving mutual aid partners and outside agencies, and its advantages for enhancing personnel safety and operational efficiency. It also discusses potential cost savings for communities and presents practical recommendations for planning and implementing a P25 radio system. It is an ideal brief overview of P25 aimed at community leaders and public safety administrators, officials, and responders.
Public Safety Interoperability Implications of non-P25 Radio Technologies
This product discusses some of the available non-Project 25 (P25) radio technologies that some public safety organizations might consider to support their operations. It examines the possible benefits of these technologies, as well as the potential implications they might impose on interoperability within the public safety communications community.
Project 25 Inter-RF Subsystem Interface (ISSI) and Console Subsystem Interface (CSSI) Primer
The Inter-RF Subsystem Interface (ISSI) and Console Subsystem Interface (CSSI) provides the ability to interconnect Project 25 radio frequency subsystems and console subsystems, even when systems are supported by different manufacturers. Given the inherent complexities in interconnecting radio frequency subsystems and navigating the implementation of standards-based technology, FPIC ISSI/CSSI Focus Group developed the Project 25 Inter-RF Subsystem Interface (ISSI) and Console Subsystem Interface (CSSI) Primer. The Primer provides a high-level overview and serves as a resource for current and prospective ISSI/CSSI users as they plan and implement these interoperability solutions.
Best Practices for Planning and Implementation of P25 Inter-RF Subsystem Interface (ISSI) and Console Subsystem Interface (CSSI): Volume I
As the public safety community continues to recognize the importance of land mobile radio (LMR) operability and interoperability, interest in ISSI and CSSI technology has increased. In response to this heightened interest in both technologies, FPIC, in conjunction with SAFECOM and NCSWIC, developed the Best Practices for Planning and Implementation of P25 Inter-RF Subsystem Interface (ISSI) and Console Subsystem Interface (CSSI): Volume I document to help the ISSI/CSSI user community address pre-planning, partnerships, and governance practices essential to planning an ISSI and/or CSSI implementation. The document includes a high-level overview of ISSI/CSSI technologies and a “Best Practices Checklist” to help explain the benefits of interoperability enhancements and the potential for infrastructure sharing for current and prospective ISSI/CSSI users as they plan and implement these interoperability solutions.
Best Practices for Planning and Implementation of P25 Inter-RF Subsystem Interface (ISSI) and Console Subsystem Interface (CSSI): Volume II
The Best Practices for Planning and Implementation of Project 25 (P25) Inter-RF Subsystem Interface (ISSI) and Console Subsystem Interface (CSSI): Volume II addresses technology, policy and partnerships for planning and implementing an ISSI or CSSI. The volume includes a best practices checklist intended to prompt practitioners to ask questions and consider strategic elements that may otherwise be overlooked during planning or implementation.
Statement of Project 25 User Needs
Developed by the P25 Steering Committee with support from CISA, this document Statement of Project 25 User Needs (SPUN) provides an overview of P25 systems and user needs for various P25 components and interfaces. Intended for public safety users and officials wanting to know more about P25 and P25 Standards development, the SPUN is an excellent resource for novice and veteran P25 users
Communications and Cyber Resiliency
Public Safety Communications and Cyber Resiliency Toolkit
The ability to maintain voice and data communications at all times is critical for public safety agencies to perform their life-saving missions. By establishing resiliency measures, public safety communications can better withstand potential disruptions to service. The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) developed the Public Safety Communications and Cyber Resiliency Toolkit as a collection of resources to assist public safety agencies and others responsible for communications networks in evaluating current resiliency capabilities, identifying ways to improve resiliency, and developing plans for mitigating the effects of potential resiliency threats. To facilitate viewing available resources, an interactive graphic is provided. Topic specific systems-based resources appear as building shapes (blue); threats are cloud shapes (red). Clicking on a topic reveals a list of resources accompanied by a brief description.
Cyber Resiliency Resources for Public Safety Fact Sheet
Cybersecurity is a shared mission across all levels of government, the private sector, nongovernmental organizations, and the public. In this context, organizations must take proactive measures to enhance their overall cybersecurity posture. As achieving secure and resilient communications is essential for agencies to execute their missions, first responder organizations should use available resources to assess the cybersecurity and resiliency of their networks. To help meet this need, CISA has compiled the Cyber Resiliency Resources for Public Safety Fact Sheet. The document provides a non-comprehensive list of cyber resiliency resources available to public safety partners to help assess the cybersecurity and resiliency of mission-critical systems.
Public Safety Communications Resiliency: Ten Keys to Obtaining a Resilient Local Access Network
Ten Keys to Obtaining a Resilient and Route Diverse Local Access Network helps organizations mitigate threats to communications continuity and supports resilient, “always available communications.” This document presents ten key steps organizations can follow to determine if local network infrastructure communication paths are sufficiently diverse to minimize communications outages.
Public Safety Communications Network Resiliency Self-Assessment Guidebook
Complete end-to-end network resilience is difficult to achieve, but an organization can greatly improve “always available” communications by identifying and mitigating resilience issues through a self-assessment of its local access network. The Public Safety Communications Network Resiliency Self-Assessment Guidebook provides instructions on how to assess resiliency of a public safety communications network, describes common critical resiliency gaps in public safety networks, proposes mitigation solutions for assured communications in stressed network environments, and demonstrates a proven methodology for data gathering, connectivity mapping, and analysis. CISA recommends use of the Guidebook for organizations performing resiliency self-assessments of their critical facilities.
Resiliency Fact Sheet
The Resiliency Fact Sheet introduces the topic of communications continuity, and discusses the importance of network resiliency. The Fact Sheet provides the available resources to (1) establish a process to assess threats and vulnerabilities to communications networks, (2) enable organizations to conduct self-assessments and (3) identify mitigation solutions. It also conveys the benefits of performing a resiliency self-assessment.
Radio Frequency Interference Best Cyber Practices Guidebook
Developed by SAFECOM and NCSWIC in collaboration with CISA and the DHS S&T, this whitepaper educates public safety organizations on RF interference threats and the implications they pose to public safety communications. The document provides an overview of the different types of RF interference; summarizes ongoing efforts related to awareness, preparation, mitigation, and current legislation pertaining to such interference; and offers information on how public safety organizations can best recognize, respond to, report, resolve, and become resilient against RF interference incidents.
Risks to Public Safety: Ransomware Guide
Public safety organizations are increasingly becoming targets for cybercrimes, such as ransomware attacks. To help improve public safety cyber resiliency and preserve mission-critical functions, CISA developed the Cyber Risks to Public Safety: Ransomware guide. The document provides an overview of how ransomware attacks function, the potential impact on emergency response operations, common cybersecurity vulnerabilities, and best practices to help secure public safety networks. The guide also provides reporting resources for organizations experiencing ransomware attacks. The guide aims to help public safety partners improve resiliency against ransomware threats and secure mission-critical functions.
Public Safety Communications Dependencies on Non-Agency Infrastructure and Services
Public Safety Communications Dependencies on Non-Agency Infrastructure and Services was developed by SAFECOM and NCSWIC. This white paper provides several examples of infrastructure and service dependencies that public safety agencies might have on non-agency entities. For example, agencies readily rely on commercial vendors for subscriber units or on commercial utilities for power supply. Just like the agencies, these contracted entities can be vulnerable to disruptive events. Agencies might engage in several activities to help secure system resiliency and continuity of services.
Infrastructure Obstructions to Radio Propagation
The Infrastructure Obstructions to Radio Propagation aims to equip communications system planners and administrators with knowledge to better prepare for changes to existing infrastructure by highlighting potential obstructions (e.g., bridges, wind turbines, cranes) and providing examples of prevention and mitigation approaches. In addition to best practices within the document, it also highlights certain states, territories, or cities that have chosen to pursue more formal guidance to prevent and mitigate signal obstruction.
For additional information on public safety communications resiliency, please contact CISA at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Internet of Things: Impact on Public Safety Communications
Public safety communications have already been adapting to the Internet of Things (IoT). Use of a smartphone, tablet, laptop, or navigational system has introduced some of the benefits and risks posed by an IoT environment. Successfully harnessing IoT will allow public safety to maximize existing infrastructure investments and provide near-real time decision support experiences that can change how they operate. As a result, CISA has developed The Internet of Things: Impact on Public Safety Communications white paper to provide guidance on how the community can use IoT-enabled devices to promote information sharing, collaboration, and training, while also addressing the associated cybersecurity, privacy, and system design considerations.
Public Safety Unmanned Aircraft System Resource Guide
The Public Safety Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) Resource Guide outlines multiple resources available to public safety communications stakeholders when developing a UAS program or deploying or encountering UAS in the public safety environment. Specifically, the document provides links to publications and other resources containing relevant information about using UAS, developing a UAS program, engaging with the community, responding to unfamiliar or malicious UAS use, and managing UAS with available tools. This resource may also help organizations encountering UAS during emergency response, as may be the case during an event where multiple jurisdictions are involved.