European Parliament Committee Clears Deal on ‘eCall” System for Vehicles

The European Parliament’s Internal Market Committee voted 30-1 on Thursday to endorse a plan to implement “eCall” automatic emergency calling technology in vehicles in amended form with additional data protection provisions.  The plan would use the “112” number to automatically call emergency services from vehicles involved in accidents.  It would require all new car models to be equipped with eCall technology by March 31, 2018.

The draft law’s data protection clause was amended to prevent tracking of eCall-equipped vehicles before any accident occurs.  Under the amended draft, the automatic call would give emergency authorities only basic data on the class of vehicle, type of fuel used, time of the accident, and exact location. Continue reading

FCC Releases PN on Illegal Cell Phone Jammer Devices

Mission Critical magazine reports the FCC again released a public notice stating it is illegal to use a cell-phone jammer or other device that blocks, jams or interferes with authorized communications.  The notice outlines what jammers are, why they are prohibited and how they work. The notice states it is illegal to operate jammers in the United States unless the use is by authorized federal agencies. It is illegal to import jammers to the United States and to sell or advertise them online or in stores.

Courtesy Mission Critical,



NASCIO Reports on Funding: The Drive Wheel for Cross-Jurisdictional Collaboration

Increasing the quality and availability of citizen services through collaborative enterprise-wide and cross-enterprise collaboration is motivated by achieving a citizen centric outcome, a comprehensive view of the citizen, and organizing with consideration to life events, according to a report released by the National Association of State Chief Information Officers (NASCIO). This motivation includes goals for increasing efficiency, effectiveness and capacity. The key to reaching outcomes is gaining initial and sustained funding. An “outcomes based” business case that fully accounts for all costs will help secure the necessary funding. The report, “Funding: The Drive Wheel for Cross-Jurisdictional Collaboration,” focuses on funding options. Visit to read the report. Continue reading

Commerce IG’s Report Criticizes FirstNet Ethics, Procurement Activities

Courtesy TRDaily

The Commerce Department’s Office of Inspector General today released its long-awaited report on ethics and contractor procurement matters involving the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) and concluded that there is a need to strengthen the management of financial disclosures by FirstNet board members and how the authority’s contracts are monitored.

Former FirstNet board chairman Sam Ginn asked the IG to look into ethics and contractor procurement issues last year (TRDaily, Oct. 25, 2013) in the wake of complaints leveled by then-board member Paul Fitzgerald, the sheriff of Story County, Iowa (TRDaily, April 23, 2013).  A special review committee of the FirstNet board reviewed other allegations of Mr. Fitzgerald’s, concluding that FirstNet “conducted open and transparent decision making,” “did not withhold records from Board members,” and “continues to work on a network plan in compliance with statutory requirements” (TRDaily, Sept. 23, 2013).

The IG report issued today concluded that the Commerce “Department’s confidential and public disclosure monitoring procedures were inadequate. OGC [Office of General Counsel] was unable to provide a record of all FirstNet confidential and public financial disclosure files, including due dates, as required by federal regulations. Nor had OGC created a schedule of Board members’ start dates of service, due dates of disclosures, or a centralized point of record showing the training and counselling provided. Continue reading

Message from FirstNet Chair

December 9, 2014  By Sue Swenson, FirstNet Chair

Today, we received the Department of Commerce Office of the Inspector General’s (OIG) audit report on the Department’s administration of FirstNet’s ethics program and procurement of contractor support in the early days of our operations. The report makes a number of recommendations regarding improving guidance and processes around the Department’s ethics program and contracting on behalf of FirstNet. We concur with these recommendations, many of which have already been implemented.

FirstNet is a unique organization, charged with a significant task – to build the first-ever broadband network for the nation’s public safety community. No organization has accomplished what we have set out to do. We acknowledge some administrative missteps were made in the early days, and we have taken and will continue to take steps to address them.

I am confident that the FirstNet of today is on the right path forward for these and many other reasons.

Both the Department and FirstNet have instituted a comprehensive and effective ethics program and are taking the appropriate measures to help ensure first-rate procurement practices to assist in FirstNet’s mission. This includes the ongoing expansion of FirstNet’s formal compliance program to supplement existing Commerce Department requirements. We also have learned lessons from the early procurements and are now applying these experiences going forward to further improve.

Further, the organization has undergone significant change in the past year, including the institution of an experienced management team, dedicated legal counsel, and more than 80 employees. Our leadership team and full-time, dedicated staff are implementing a Strategic Program Roadmap to lead us down the path of success.

We are on track with the milestones that we outlined in the Roadmap and have also cultivated important partnerships with the future users of the network – the public safety community. We are consulting with the states, territories, and tribal nations on how to build the network. In Fiscal Year 2014, we participated in nearly 100 events across the country that connected us to thousands of firefighters, law enforcement officials, emergency medical providers, and public safety officials from all levels of government.

We understand the unique risks that FirstNet faces in its mission to deploy the nation’s first public safety broadband network, and we will continue to take the steps necessary to ensure we remain committed to the highest level of transparency, integrity, ethics, and ongoing compliance as we move forward.

I would like to thank the public safety community for its patience and critical support during this time. FirstNet has moved quickly to lay the necessary foundations of your network and our organization. Working together, we have come a long way in 2014, and I am looking forward to an even more productive 2015 and beyond.


Continue reading

SAFECOM and NCSWIC Publish Funding Mechanisms for PS Comms

Frequently, public safety officials seek out multiple funding sources to support public safety interoperability improvements. This publication, created by the Funding and Sustainment Committee of SAFECOM and the National Council of Statewide Interoperability Coordinators (NCSWIC), provides a list of funding mechanisms currently being used by states and territories nationwide.  It provides a starting point for discussions on developing viable and sustainable financial strategies for state and local governments seeking to improve their emergency communications systems.  View Funding Mechanisms for Public Safety Communications here:

Dr. David Boyd Wins DeMello Award

Congratulations to David Boyd, winner of the Richard DeMello Award, presented to one individual in public safety communications who has demonstrated the highest levels of personal and professional conduct and performance in the local, state, and national public safety communications arena.  NPSTC presented the award at the Radio Communications of America (RCA) dinner in November.  Dr. Boyd was an early champion of interoperability, seeing the value of input from first responders and he has supported NPSTC for many years, for the good of the entire communications community. NPSTC appreciates that support, which has made significant progress towards solving interoperability issues nationwide.  boydphoto 2014 1119

Dr. Boyd joined the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in March of 2003 and served until 2013 as the Director of the Office for Interoperability and Compatibility and as the Director, Technology Transfer with responsibility for research and development (R&D) programs to support communications interoperability, information sharing, and space related issues. As the architect of both the SAFECOM and Virtual USA, he has always been a champion of interoperability.

Before joining DHS, Dr. Boyd served as the Director of Science and Technology for the National Institute of Justice, where he oversaw an activity which grew from a budget of $2 million and a staff of four into the single largest law enforcement and corrections technology development activity in the U.S. with an active portfolio of more than $750 million and a staff of more than 200 federal and contract personnel in technology centers across the nation.

He has served on the White House National Science and Technology Council, the National Security Council Committee on Safety and Security of Public Facilities, and as the Executive Chair of the Department of Justice’s Technology Policy Council. He is a recipient of a 2005 Presidential Rank Award, the highest recognition available in the Federal Civil Service.

Before entering the Civil Service, Dr. Boyd served more than two decades in the U.S. Army. He has commanded combat, combat support, and training units in the U.S. and overseas, in times of both peace and war, and has served on military staffs from battalion level to the Pentagon, where – as an operations researcher – he was responsible for the design and supervision of the development and application of automated models in support of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He has represented the U.S. in bilateral meetings with Soviet and other foreign analysts, and led a special strategic analysis in support of the first Gulf War. Dr. Boyd has been honored by three dozen military awards including the Bronze Star and the Purple Heart.