Public Safety Invited to Submit Written Comments to FirstNet Board’s Second Public Notice

On March 9, 2015, the FirstNet Board approved for release a second Public Notice seeking comment on important interpretations on FirstNet’s enabling legislation, including public safety customer, operational, and funding considerations related to states or territories assuming responsibility for radio access network (RAN) deployment.  For more information regarding this FirstNet statement please find the article on the FirstNet website.

The public is invited to submit written comments to the notice either electronically through www.regulations.gov or by mail to the address listed in the notice. The comment period for this notice will be 30 days and will begin after publication of this notice in the Federal Register.

 

Cross Border Report from CITIG/NPSTC Noted in TRDaily

A report released today by the Canadian Interoperability Technology Interest Group (CITIG) and the National Public Safety Telecommunications Council (NPSTC) cited challenges to cross-border public safety communications and recommended a number of steps to address them.

“The report is designed to clarify legal and regulatory policies, identify best practices and examples of interoperability excellence, and advance specific recommendations to enhance public safety communications at the national border,” according to a news release. “Cross border public safety communications is a complex issue that affects all first responder organizations which operate near the U.S. and Canadian border. The inability to directly communicate with other emergency responders puts both property and the lives of responders and the public they seek to protect at risk.”

“The inability to communicate across the borders is related to regulatory and technology barriers, disparate and proprietary technology solutions, and uncertainty as to whether agencies can legally execute mutual aid agreements and operational policy directives with sister agencies across the border,” the news release added.

The 61-page report includes a myriad of recommendations concerning governance, standard operating procedures (SOPs), technology, training and exercises, and usage.

For example, regarding governance the report recommends, among other things, identifying or establishing “a federal organizational body within Canada to coordinate with provincial entities to promote interoperability within Canada and across the border” and developing “model MOUs that are legally sufficient to codify relationships between U.S. and Canadian first responder organizations.”

Regarding SOPs, the report recommends working “collaboratively with the FCC and Industry Canada to understand existing regulatory processes and potential for improvements” and codifying “a radio technology standard for cross border voice communications to ensure reliable operations (e.g., when should analog be used, when P25 digital should be used, how should encryption be used, etc.).”

As for technology, the report recommends determining “available frequencies at the state/regional/provincial level to support cross border communications between U.S. and Canadian first responders. Ideally, a common interoperability frequency should be identified in both VHF and UHF bands to complement channels currently available in the 700 MHz and 800 MHz band.”- Paul Kirby, paul.kirby@wolterskluwer.com

Courtesy TRDaily

TRDaily Reports FirstNet Gets Generally Friendly Reception at Senate Hearing

The First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) got a generally friendly reception from lawmakers during a Senate hearing today, although members voiced a number of concerns about the nationwide public safety broadband network, including whether it will serve rural areas, whether there will be enough funding to complete it, and whether it will be affordable to first responders.

During the hearing before the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, several lawmakers echoed the frustrations voiced by FirstNet Chairwoman Sue Swenson about delays that the independent federal entity, which is housed within the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, faces because it is subject to federal rules and regulations, including those dealing with hiring and procurement.

However, FirstNet drew some criticism at the hearing from the Government Accountability Office, which said that while FirstNet has made strides in planning for the deployment of the network, it “lacks certain elements of effective internal controls” and should do a better job of articulating how it will evaluate lessons learned from early builders.

The Commerce Department’s Inspector General also cited a number of future challenges that FirstNet must address if it is to be successful. The IG also said that FirstNet and other government entities have moved to address financial disclosure and procurement problems raised in a report released in December (TRDaily, Dec. 9, 2014). Continue reading

ARRL Reports FCC Enforcement Bureau Field Resources Poised to Shrink

According to an internal FCC Enforcement Bureau (EB) memorandum, the Bureau plans to ask the full Commission to cut two-thirds of its field offices and eliminate nearly one-half of its field agents. At the same time, the Bureau would develop a so-called “Tiger Team” of field agents as a flexible strike force it could deploy as needed. In the March 10 memorandum to Enforcement Bureau field staff — obtained by ARRL and others — EB Chief Travis LeBlanc and FCC Managing Director Jon Wilkins cited the need to take “a fresh look” at the Bureau’s 20-year-old operating model in light of technology changes and tighter budgets. ARRL CEO David Sumner, K1ZZ, expressed dismay at the proposals.

Read more:  http://www.arrl.org/news/fcc-enforcement-bureau-field-resources-poised-to-shrink

Andy Seybold’s Public Safety Advocate, March 13, 2015

Two very important items for the Public Safety community were in the news this week. The first was the Second Request for Comments to try to clarify what the law that created FirstNet really meant and what it really means for FirstNet, the States, and the Public Safety community.

The comment period for this request is only 30 days long but the responses could mean the difference between a very successful FirstNet and a nationwide system that is divided by opt-out states that think they can capture the proceeds of user and secondary user fees on the portion of the network within that state. This, to me, would cause a real problem not only for FirstNet but also for any partner or partners that might be contemplating responding to the FirstNet RFP scheduled for later this year.

I urge as many of you as possible to respond to this request in the hopes that these issues can be clarified for the benefit of the Public Safety community. The request has now been posted by the Federal Register so the clock is ticking. The document is here: https://www.federalregister.gov/articles/2015/03/13/2015-05855/further-proposed-interpretations-of-parts-of-the-middle-class-tax-relief-and-job-creation-act-of

The second important happening was the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee hearing on Wednesday, March 11, 2015. There are several articles listed below with some of the testimony included in the text but the full hearing can be watched at http://www.commerce.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?p=Hearings&ContentRecord_id=25dedd7c-815b-4b3d-a420-4f4324d01041&ContentType_id=14f995b9-dfa5-407a-9d35-56cc7152a7ed&Group_id=b06c39af-e033-4cba-9221-de668ca1978a. The hearing lasted two hours and the FirstNet Chairwoman did a very good job both with her testimony and with the questions she was asked afterward. Continue reading

Andy Seybold, Real World Intelligence, March 11, 2015

It Can’t Happen To Me!

On February 25, 2015, Northern Arizona went quiet. Cell phones and landlines did not work, cable TV did not work, and there were no connections to the Internet. This quiet period meant no 9-1-1 emergency calls, no credit card transactions for merchants, and no access to cloud-based applications and data. Service went down at noon and was partially restored to some in the area by 6pm but most had to wait until 3am for their service to be restored.

CenturyLink, provider of all these services, lost connectivity in one of its fiber routes to Northern Arizona from Southern Arizona and guess what? While CenturyLink is “planning” a second, redundant route, it is not yet in place so there is only one set of fiber cables running from south to north. To make matters worse, according to the police who are investigating, the cable might have been cut. We later learned the cable was in fact cut near a riverbed in an area that is not easily accessible by vehicle. Beyond that, the police won’t share any additional information. Continue reading

FirstNet Releases Second Public Notice

March 9, 2015: As part of its ongoing efforts to consult with stakeholders, the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) Board today approved for release a second Public Notice (Second Notice) seeking comment on important interpretations of FirstNet’s enabling legislation, including public safety customer, operational, and funding considerations related to states or territories assuming responsibility for radio access network (RAN) deployment.

http://www.npstc.org/download.jsp?tableId=37&column=217&id=3358&file=FirstNet_Second_Public_Notice_150309.pdf

 

Cross Border Communications Report Released by CITIG and NPSTC

March 11, 2015,  The Canadian Interoperability Technology Interest Group (CITIG) and the National Public Safety Telecommunications Council (NPSTC) are pleased to announce the publication of their  Cross Border Communications Report: Barriers, Opportunities, and Solutions for Border First Responders, a comprehensive study of cross border public safety communications at the local first responder level. The report is designed to clarify legal and regulatory policies, identify best practices and examples of interoperability excellence, and advance specific recommendations to enhance public safety communications at the national border.

Cross border public safety communications is a complex issue that affects all first responder organizations which operate near the U.S. and Canadian border. The inability to directly communicate with other emergency responders puts both property and the lives of responders and the public they seek to protect at risk. cross border cover 2015 0310

Fire departments, law enforcement, and EMS organizations are frequently asked to cross the national border to render aid. They may be the primary agency assigned to respond to an emergency across the border. Some public safety agencies coordinate with officials at border crossings and have developed close working relationships while other first responder organizations operate in rural areas and must deal with border crossings which are closed overnight.

The inability to communicate across the borders is related to regulatory and technology barriers, disparate and proprietary technology solutions, and uncertainty as to whether agencies can legally execute mutual aid agreements and operational policy directives with sister agencies across the border.

The Cross Border Communications Report lists and explains public safety requirements for cross border communications; addresses barriers and opportunities; includes current treaties and regulations with explanations; provides best practice examples; and ends with a comprehensive set of recommendations. Appendices provide additional valuable Internet resources.

Join @DHSSciTech on March 11 Using #STTechTalk

S&T’s Under Secretary still wants to talk to you!  Since assuming the role of Under Secretary for Science and Technology at the Department of Homeland Security in April 2014, Dr. Reginald Brothers has been shaking things up. In the past 10 months, he has launched a series of new initiatives, all with a single goal—to transform the way the federal government conducts research and development (R&D). These exciting changes not only strengthen the nation’s security, they’re opening up conversations on what technologies are needed three, five, 10, and even 20 years into the future. Continue reading

DHS S&T Launches Prize Competition for Tracking First Responders Indoors

The Department of Homeland Security’s Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) announced the Department’s first crowdsourced prize competition in support of the nation’s first responder community. The “Indoor Tracking of the Next Generation First Responder” prize competition seeks innovative ideas for solving the challenges of real-time, accurate indoor tracking of first responders during an incident. S&T is looking for innovate solutions that will help first responders with basic questions such as “where am I?” and “where is my team?”

Interested in learning more? Read the full S&T Press Release.