Courtesy Urgent Communications: NG 911 Will Open Door for Telematics

While engineers and 911 professionals figure out how to effectively and securely transmit that data to the appropriate public-safety answering point (PSAP), some vehicle models already offer a limited version of what is expected to come.

For every computerized system within a modern vehicle, there’s a dataset that could provide additional insight to first responders and dispatchers.

“The radio is not a radio anymore. It’s turned into a fairly complicated computer,” Steve Coker, who heads Chrysler’s Uconnect program, said at the recent National Emergency Number Association conference in Nashville. Continue reading

Drone Almost Blocks California Firefighting Planes

SHINGLE SPRINGS, Calif. (AP) — A private drone trying to record footage of a Northern California wildfire nearly hindered efforts to attack the flames from the air, but firefighters made enough progress to allow most of the 1,200 people under evacuation orders to return home Monday.

An unmanned aircraft that aimed to get video of the blaze burning near vineyards in the Sierra Nevada foothills east of Sacramento was sighted Sunday, two days after the fire broke out, California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection spokeswoman Lynne Tolmachoff said. Continue reading

DHS Science and Technology Snapshot: SWAMP Is Open and Ready for Business

S&T Snapshot: The SWAMP: A Key Resource in Improving Software Assurance Activities

The Software Assurance Market Place, or SWAMP, is an online, open-source, collaborative research environment that allows software developers and researchers to test their software for security weaknesses, improve tools by testing against a wide range of software packages, and interact and exchange best practices to improve software assurance tools and techniques. Continue reading

Is the Future of 911 a Nationwide Connected System? James Mayse, Messenger-Inquirer

In an effort to help dispatchers share information more effectively, plans are in the works to connect them across Kentucky and the nation.

James Mayse, The Messenger-Inquirer | July 24, 2014

Plans are in the works to connect 911 dispatch centers across Kentucky and nationwide, in an effort to help dispatchers in other regions share information more effectively. Paul Nave, director of Owensboro-Daviess County’s 911 dispatch center, said the plan is to connect dispatchers via the Internet, which would allow centers to transfer calls, 911 text messages, photos and videos of accident scenes and other information quickly. The ability to transfer data such as text messages already exists and is part of “Next Generation 911” technology that is being installed in dispatch centers around the country, including Daviess County. Continue reading

Courtesy TRDaily: Verizon Fires Back at Coalition Criticism of 911 Location Accuracy

Verizon Communications, Inc., has fired back at the contention that nine out of 10 wireless calls made in Washington, D.C., during the first half of last year were delivered without accurate location information.  The filing by Verizon in PS docket 07-114 responded to a news release issued earlier this month (TRDaily, July 10) by the Find Me 911 Coalition, which said it obtained data filed with the FCC through a Freedom of Information Act request. The coalition receives financial support from TruePosition, Inc., a location technology vendor, and the coalition’s director is also counsel for TruePosition. Continue reading

NFPA Developing Standard for Portable Radios Used in Hazardous Situations

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) Technical Committee on Electronic Safety Equipment has begun the development of a standard to improve the portable radios used by fire fighters in hazardous locations. The proposed standard, NFPA 1802, STANDARD ON PERSONAL PORTABLE (HAND-HELD) TWO-WAY RADIO COMMUNICATIONS DEVICES FOR USE BY EMERGENCY SERVICES PERSONNEL IN THE HAZARD ZONE began work last year, spurred on by a tragic line of duty death of two San Francisco fire fighters in a house fire in June 2011.

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TRDaily: FirstNet Spectrum Lease Agreement Nearing for Harris County, TX

The First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) and the state of Texas are nearing a spectrum lease agreement for Harris County, which is deploying a public safety broadband system, a state official said today.

“We’re very close to reaching an agreement,” Todd Early, deputy assistant director of the Public Safety Communications Service within the Law Enforcement Support Division of the Texas Department of Public Safety, said this afternoon during a FirstNet webinar organized by IWCE’s “Urgent Communications.”

The state of Texas and FirstNet have been discussing a spectrum lease agreement since April 2013, and the state has received four grants of special temporary authority (STA) from the FCC related to the operation of the Harris County network, with the current STA scheduled to expire late next month.

If it secures a spectrum lease agreement, it would be the only such lease recipient that is not a BTOP (Broadband Technology Opportunities Program) grant awardee.

FirstNet and Texas have established an excellent working relationship on this issue, said FirstNet spokesman Ryan Oremland.  “We are encouraged by the productive dialogue that we have been having with the State and are working hard toward reaching an agreement,” he told TRDaily today.

During today’s webinar, public safety experts discussed several hot topics concerning the deployment of the nationwide public safety broadband network, including FirstNet’s issuance of a comprehensive network request for proposal (RFP), the cost to public safety agencies of using the network, priority access, rural coverage, and the difficulty of consulting with thousands of public safety agencies and other stakeholders.

Amanda Hilliard, FirstNet’s outreach director, said that FirstNet plans to issue a draft comprehensive network RFP early next year.“Everybody wants to know … what is this going to cost in the end” to use the network? said Maj. Scott Neal, director of the Bureau of Communications and Information Services in the Pennsylvania State Police.  He said the price must be attractive to agencies, both that currently subscribe to commercial services and those that don’t.

Mr. Early said another key issue is managing priority access, including among public safety disciplines. He said that will have to be addressed.  He also said that “rural coverage is a very big concern,” a point echoed by others on the webinar. Mr. Early said that “real-live metrics” from early builders will be necessary to produce models on how rural coverage can be achieved.

Bill Malone, who retired this month as executive director of the Adams County, Colo., Communications Center (ADCOM 911), said first responders in rural areas are “a little skeptical” that the FirstNet system will meet their needs.- Paul Kirby,

Urgent Communications: Clearer Timeline for FirstNet Not Expected until 2015

States and localities will have a clearer understanding of the cost to participate in the public-safety broadband network after a comprehensive request for proposals goes out in early 2015, according to Amanda Hilliard,FirstNet’s director of outreach.

“As we go through that process and get responses back and make an award, we’ll have a lot more information and detail on potential cost and build-out of the network that will then get incorporated into the state plans,” Hilliard said Wednesday during an IWCE’s Urgent communications webinar on the “State of the States.”

For agencies that are preparing for the coming of FirstNet, while trying to maintain their current communications systems, those answers cannot come soon enough.

“Everybody wants to know what is this going to cost us in the end. What is the business model? What is it going to cost? How is it going to operate in the end,” said Scott Neal, director of the Pennsylvania State Police’s Bureau of Communications and Information Services.

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Highlands Ranch, CO, Tower touted as boost to safety, Highlands Ranch Herald

Highlands Ranch plan would aid first responders, by Christy Steadman, Posted 7/23/14

Plans are in the works for a new 180-foot-tall communications tower, proposed to be built on Grigs Road, which would improve public and first responder safety in the event of a disaster in Highlands Ranch.

The purpose of the tower is to improve emergency communication in the northern part of Douglas County for first responders, including, but not limited to, law enforcement, fire departments, schools, public works and road crews.

“Public safety is paramount,” said Robert McMahan, captain of support services in the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office. “Douglas County is working on providing the best public safety communication for the citizens.”

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From Arlington, TX: Arlington Firefighter Returns from Nerve-Wracking Work in Israel

PANTEGO — When you fight fires for more than two decades, there’s a good chance you’ll have a couple of close calls.

Billy Hirth just had three or four in the course of one week.  The 52-year-old Arlington firefighter was helping Israeli firefighters respond to emergencies near the border with Gaza.

“There were just different things,” he said. “At one point, a radio goes off in Hebrew, everyone runs. I figure that was a good sign I should run […] a rocket hit about 600 feet from us.”

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