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

Continue reading

Courtesy Urgent Communications: FCC Approves Rules Requiring Text-to-911

FCC Approves Rules Requiring All Carriers, Interconnected Messaging Providers to Enable Text-to-911 Service

August 8, FCC commissioners today approved an order requiring all wireless carriers and providers of interconnected over-the-top text messaging services—those using phone numbers to let users send and receive messages—support text-to-911 functionality by the end of the year, if requested by a public-safety answering point (PSAP).

Commissioners reiterated the fact that voice calls to 911 are more efficient, more reliable and provide better information to first responders—and, therefore, should be the first option when seeking emergency help—but the value of text-to-911 capability is clear, especially to those who are hearing- or speech-impaired or are in a situation in which speaking could endanger their lives. Continue reading

Courtesy TRDaily: Sprint Reports 800 MHz Rebanding in Final Stages

Sprint Corp. has reported further progress in the 800 megahertz band realignment, saying that the initiative “is reaching its final stages.” In a report filed with the FCC in WT docket 02-55, Sprint said that “800 MHz public safety and non-public safety licensees required to be retuned in a total of thirty-nine NPSPAC Regions and the U.S. Territories have fully completed 800 MHz band reconfiguration efforts.

Currently only 16 Regions of the 55 NPSPAC Regions remain incomplete.

Excluding the five Regions located within in the U.S. – Mexican Border Area and the State of Washington (Region 43) located in the U.S. – Canada Border Area, only four individual licensees remain to complete 800 MHz band reconfiguration in the non-border area United States. These recent accomplishments demonstrate that, by any measure, the multi-year, multibillion dollar 800 MHz band reconfiguration project is reaching its final stages.”

Courtesy TRDaily: FirstNet Board to Meet August 15

The First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) Board plans to hold a special meeting via teleconference Aug. 15 from 11 a.m.-noon eastern time.  A notice did not mention an agenda for the meeting, but the board may vote on a spectrum lease with the state of Texas on behalf of Harris County. Texas and FirstNet officials have said they are close to completing their lease negotiations, and Special Temporary Authority from the FCC to operate the Harris County network expires later this month.  No agenda is posted yet.  Visit www.firstnet.gov/ for more information.





Courtesy NCSWIC News: Communications Lessons from SR530 Landslide

By Bill Schrier, Chair, Washington State Interoperability Executive Committee (SIEC) in collaboration with Crystal Ayco, Scott Honaker, Chris Lombard, Mark McDermott and Karl Wright

On Saturday, March 22, 2014, at 10:37 AM Pacific Time, a hillside near the village of Oso in Snohomish County, Washington, liquefied and sent a wall of mud and debris down into the North Fork Stillaguamish River valley. The landslide covered State Highway 530, closing it, and isolating the community of Darrington from the remainder of the county. A total of 43 residents died and 49 homes were destroyed. The debris field covered over one square mile. In the ensuing six weeks, public safety agencies and volunteers mounted a major rescue and recovery operation which involved, at some points, up to 700 responders. This event is known in Washington as the State Route 530 (SR530) Landslide.

As with any major disaster, wired and wireless communications are critical to response and recovery. After the initial landslide, some communications capabilities immediately fell into place, by both design and luck:

The landslide area is well-covered by the Snohomish Emergency Radio System (SERS), a county-wide 800 MHz trunked radio network used by all in-county first responders. Continue reading