Provide Visionary Goals for the Future: Outreach to First Responder Community from DHS S&T

 Message from S&T: As the primary research and development arm of the Department of Homeland Security, the Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) is dreaming big – looking 20 to 30 years out, or even further, to define core “North Star” visionary goals for the future. We need your insights and best thinking.

Over the past several months, the S&T team has developed and refined proposed visionary goals that are based solidly on the policies and priorities of the White House, the 2014 Quadrennial Homeland Security Review, and the DHS Secretary.

S&T’s proposed Visionary Goals are listed below. Click on each for more information.

  • Visionary Goal 1: Screening at Speed: Matching the Pace of Life
  • Visionary Goal 2: A Trusted Cyber Future: Protecting Privacy, Commerce, and Community
  •  Visionary Goal 3: Enable the Decision Maker: Providing Actionable Information Ahead of Incident Speed
  • Visionary Goal 4: Responder of the Future: Protected, Connected, and Fully Aware

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NPSTC’s Regulatory Update: Summer 2014

Articles provided by Bette Rinehart, NPSTC Editorial Task Group Chair

Regulatory News

Model City for Demonstrating/Evaluating Advanced Spectrum Sharing Technologies Sought by FCC, NTIA, and OET. The FCC, NTIA, and OET are seeking comment on a recommendation by the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST), that the Secretary of Commerce create a public/private partnership to foster the establishment of an urban test city. The test city, or “model city” would support rapid experimentation and development of policies, technologies and system capabilities for dynamic spectrum sharing. The model city could include large-scale facilities for systems-level testing in real-world environments over multiple frequency bands including public safety and certain federal bands.

In a Joint Public Notice (JPN), the agencies seek to promote the model city concept in conjunction with the new Center for Advanced Communications (CAC) created by NTIA and NIST and within the FCC’s current experimental licensing program.  The JPN seeks comment on:

  • The extent to which the Model City could or should be a self-organizing effort
  • Could the Model City take advantage of recent changes to the FCC’s experimental licensing rules? What type of agreements (formal or informal) would be necessary between the participants? Is there a role for the FCC beyond administering the experimental licensing?
  • Should the Model City program be managed by the federal government?
  • What role could the CAC play in managing the activities within a Model City to protect incumbent licensees from interference while assuring that innovators have access to sufficient spectrum resources?
  • Methods to solicit or identify eligible cities interesting in hosting a Model City deployment. What features of a candidate Model City would be most attractive?
  • Funding mechanisms

Comments are due 45 days after publication in the Federal Register. The text of the Joint Public Notice is available at:

Comment Sought on Spectrum Networks LLC Applications and Waiver Request to Provide Private, Internal Machine-to-Machine Communications to Businesses on 900 MHz Business/Industrial/Land Transportation Frequencies. The FCC is seeking comment on several applications filed by Spectrum Networks Group (SNG) seeking authorization for 900 MHz Business/Industrial/Land Transportation frequencies. Spectrum Networks proposes to construct a 900 MHz network on B/ILT frequencies that it will use to provide “machine-to-machine” communications for business eligibles. The network will not serve individuals or the federal government. SNG believes that this type of network is permitted within the rules, but seeks a waiver just in case. SNG argues that its proposed network would use fallow B/ILT frequencies solely for B/ILT purposes and bring about “the machine-to-machine revolution.” EWA filed an informal opposition to SNG’s applications earlier this year arguing that they proposed an SMR service on non-SMR frequencies and questioning SNG’s business plan. SNG responded that EWA’s opposition was undermined by its role as a frequency coordinator and asserting that their applications were not speculative.  The FCC seeks comment on SNG’s applications and the associated waiver request. Comments were due July 30; Reply Comments were due August 11. The text of the Public Notice is available at:

Reply Comment Dates Extended in the 3.5-3.6 GHz Proceeding. The FCC has extended the Reply Comment deadline for the proceeding seeking input on proposals to establish a Citizen’s Broadband Radio Service in the 3550-3650 MHz band. Reply Comments are now due August 15. The text of the Public Notice is available at:

Narrowbanding News

Del Norte County, CA Request for a Permanent Waiver of the Narrowband Deadline Denied. In 2012 Del Norte County, CA had converted its VHF system from wideband (25 kHz) to narrowband (12.5 kHz) operations. Upon doing so, it experienced a 40% loss of coverage in its operational area. The County worked with its vendor to attempt to resolve the coverage loss by ensuring that its equipment was fully optimized but the problem remained. The loss in coverage placed the County’s first responders at risk. To resolve the issue, Del Norte County, CA had sought a permanent waiver of the narrowband deadline to allow it to convert back to 25 kHz operations. The County stated that its only other option was to construct three to five additional towers. However, it lacked the funds to implement this option. Del Norte also pointed out that narrowbanding was not necessary in the County because there is no spectrum scarcity.

The FCC denied the waiver request because it felt that the County had not provided sufficient justification. While the FCC has granted temporary waivers of the narrowband deadline when petitioners have shown good cause, it has never granted a permanent waiver. Although the FCC recognized the County’s financial constraints, lack of funding is not sufficient justification for a permanent waiver. Del Norte County’s spectrum abundance might be true today but cannot be assumed to be a permanent condition. The Commission also pointed out that its rules prohibit manufacturers from making or selling wide-band capable equipment. The County wouldn’t be able to maintain or replace its equipment making the system progressively more obsolete. The text of the Order is available at:

800 MHz News

Comment Sought on Region 9 (Florida) NPSPAC Plan Amendment. The FCC is seeking comment on Region 9 (Florida) NPSPAC Plan amendment filed in March of this year. The Region proposes six changes to its existing regional plan:

  • Adding Region 23 (Mississippi) to the list of adjacent Regions. Two of Florida’s northern counties are less than 70 miles from Mississippi. Expectation that adjacent Regions will respond to correspondence with 45 days
  • Clarifying loading requirements. TDMA systems must show a loading of 100 mobiles per time slot – e.g. 400 mobiles would qualify for one 25 kHz frequency using TDMA technology.
  • Clarifying that 8CALL90 may be used to aid the Incident Command System process as a coordination frequency during emergencies
  • Adding Mutual Aid Channel Equipment Requirements
  • Explaining the Region’s required submittals for STAs versus permanent applications
  • Identifying the Region’s process for reviewing STAs and permanent applications.

Region 9 included concurrences from the adjacent Regions.   Comments were due August 11; Reply Comments are due August 21. The text of the Public Notice is available at:

Comment Sought on AT&T Request for Waiver to Permit Use of Power Spectral Density Model for 800 MHz Cellular Operations in Vermont Market. The FCC is seeking comment on a waiver filed in July by AT&T seeking to use Power Spectral Density (PSD) measurements to comply with radiated power limits in the Burlington, Vermont cellular market area. AT&T proposes a PSD limit of 250 watts/MHz in non-rural areas and 500 watts/MHz in rural areas. The company provided a study that it claims demonstrates that using the proposed PSD-based power limits will not cause harmful interference to incumbent PS licensees.

In its request, the City stated that it had no need to operate base stations and plans to use its mobile units only for low power simplex voice operations at the scene of emergencies. It selected Canadian primary frequencies for this purpose to avoid interference from high-power users of US primary frequencies and to avoid rebanding issues. It indicates that because the Canadian border is 35 km from the edge of its requested area of operation there should be no interference to Canada.

The waiver of 90.613 to operate mobile units on “high side” frequencies was granted because the FCC was persuaded that the underlying purpose of the rule would not be served. Mobile units are restricted from operating on high side frequencies without an associated repeater in order to reduce the potential for interference to other mobile units monitoring that frequency. Since Cleveland Heights’ proposed operation is for low-power, on-scene use and on Canadian-primary frequencies, there is little change for interference.

The waivers of the Canadian border application freeze and to operate on Canadian primary frequencies were dismissed as moot. The text of the Order is available at:

FCC Grants City of Cleveland Heights, OH Waiver to Operate Mobiles on 800 MHz “High Side” Frequencies. The City of Cleveland Heights, Ohio had filed an application in January seeking a waiver to operate mobiles in simplex mode on the “high side” of six 800 MHz frequencies. The rules (90.613) state that in order for mobile units to operate on the high side (base transmit) of an 800 MHz frequency, there must be an associated repeater. The City also requested a waiver of the Canadian border application freeze and a waiver to operate on frequencies that are primary to Canada.

Comments were due August 5; Reply Comments are due August 15.  The text of the Public Notice is available at:

Courtesy TRDaily: McEwen Positive on FirstNet’s Use of PSAC After Slow Start

NEW ORLEANS – Harlin McEwen, chairman of the First Responder Network Authority’s (FirstNet) Public Safety Advisory Committee (PSAC), said  he is pleased with the input that FirstNet is now seeking from his panel, stressing that this has not always been the case.

“A year ago at this conference, I was pretty frustrated,” Mr. McEwen said during a session this morning at the APCO 2014 show, adding that the PSAC was “just being maintained” at that point. “Today, I’m really very encouraged.”

He noted that at a public safety conference in June in Colorado, six FirstNet board members attended the PSAC’s face-to-face meeting, and the board also approved a charter for the PSAC.

Mr. McEwen also noted that the five-member FirstNet executive committee for the first time has been invited to attend a FirstNet board meeting – the Sept. 17 meeting in Reston, Va. “That’s a significant step in the right direction to get public safety involved,” he said. Continue reading

Courtesy TRDaily: 700 MHz, 4.9 GHz, NSI, Items on Tap Soon at FCC

FCC orders or notices in 700 megahertz band, 4.9 gigahertz band, and non-service-initialized (NSI) phone proceedings are expected to be considered by Commissioners soon, David Furth, deputy chief of the Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau, said at the APCO 2014 show.

During his session, Mr. Furth said the bureau is preparing an order in the agency’s 700 MHz band narrowbanding proceeding and expects to present it to FCC Commissioners “in the near future.” Among other things, the FCC asked questions in the docket about whether it should extend or eliminate the current Dec. 31, 2016 narrowbanding deadline and open the channels up for licensing.

In response to a concern from an audience member at a session on FCC activities about the need for timely action, Mr. Furth said, “This is a very time-sensitive issue for a lot of licensees. Because the 2016 deadline is closer than it looks.” Continue reading

Courtesy TRDaily: NATOA Panelists–Existing Infrastructure Key to FirstNet Deployment

One of the keys to successfully building a ubiquitous, nationwide public safety broadband network for first responders, especially in rural areas, is utilizing existing state and local infrastructure, said panelists  during a National Association of Telecommunications Officers and Advisors (NATOA) webinar.

Speakers during today’s discussion, held to update NATOA members on progress made so far by the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) in deploying an interoperable public safety wireless network, said the biggest challenge is to build an affordable and efficient network that works for every first responder in the country. Continue reading

APCO Roundup–Courtesy TRDaily: Early Builders Emphasize Lessons Projects Will Provide to First Net

NEW ORLEANS – Representatives of four of five public safety broadband early builders stressed at APCO 2014 the lessons that the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet, as well as states across the country, stand to learn from their projects.

For example, a network being deployed in Harris County, Texas will gather data that can hopefully assist in the deployment of networks elsewhere, including by providing key metrics such as the amount of traffic on the network during disasters and how users should be prioritized, said Todd Early, deputy assistant director of the Public Safety Communications Service within the Law Enforcement Support Division of the Texas Department of Public Safety. Continue reading

APCO Roundup–Courtesy TRDaily: Experts Emphasize Importance of Planning for FirstNet System

NEW ORLEANS – Outreach and teamwork are crucial as states reach out to stakeholders to prepare for the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) system, experts said at the APCO 2014 show here.

Travis Durek, broadband technology manager for the North Dakota Information Technology Department, said coordination among agencies in his state is crucial. He also said that state officials have worked to see who needs public safety broadband access, what their desired apps and capabilities are, and what the coverage needs are.

“If you haven’t been out there talking to people, you’ve got to get a dialogue started now,” Mr. Durek advised.  He also said attendees should work with associations and work closely with public safety answering points (PSAPs). Continue reading

APCO Roundup–Courtesy TRDaily: Speakers Stress Importance of State CIOS in Deployment of FirstNet System

NEW ORLEANS – State chief information officers should play an important role as the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) plans and deploys a nationwide public safety broadband network, speakers said during a session at the APCO 2014 show.

The views were expressed by Ed Parkinson, director-government affairs for FirstNet, and Mitch Herckis, director-government affairs for the National Association of State Chief Information Officers (NASCIO).

NASCIO’s executive committee has decided that the development of the FirstNet system is a top advocacy goal of the organization, and Mr. Herckis said state CIOs care about the project and have the knowledge to contribute input due to their expertise with large-scale IT infrastructure projects, their know-how concerning the needs of first responders, and the importance of focusing on business plans that allow the network to be sustainable over the long term. Continue reading

APCO Roundup–Courtesy TRDaily: FirstNet Officials Cite Need to Integrate NG 911

NEW ORLEANS – First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) officials today emphasized the benefits of integrating next-generation 911 (NG-911) systems with a public safety broadband safety network. But some public safety officials complained that NG-911 is being short-changed financially and that an effective governance model has not yet been established.

Jay English, director of communications center and 911 services for the Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials-International, stressed during a session at the APCO 2014 show here the importance of standard interfaces so the NG-911 and public safety broadband networks can communicate with each other.

Amanda Hilliard, director-outreach for FirstNet, said the 911 community should ensure that it is part of the state consultation process that FirstNet plans to conduct.  She also noted that FirstNet plans to hire a 911 subject matter expert and wants to hire outreach staff in each regional office in the 10 Federal Emergency Management Agency regions.

FirstNet Deputy Chief Technical Officer Jeff Bratcher said he knows that many people want information on the architecture for the nationwide network, but he said staff is “still knee deep in” work to plan that architecture. He said he agreed with Mr. English that interoperability issues between FirstNet and NG-911 networks must be addressed. Continue reading

White House Innovation for Disaster Response and Recovery Demo Day

More than 1,500 people participated online and in-person at the White House Innovation for Disaster Response and Recovery Demo Day.  Below are links to the blog post summarizing the event, the video of the event, and a link to the White House Fact Sheet highlighting commitments from Federal and local departments and agencies, organizations and tech companies.

Blog Post: More than 1,500 people participate in the White House Innovation for Disaster Response and Recovery Demo Day

Video: White House Innovation for Disaster Response and Recovery Demo Day

Fact Sheet: White House Innovation for Disaster Response and Recovery Demo Day

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