FCC Order Address 9-1-1 Recon Petition

An order on reconsideration circulated to FCC Commissioners June 23 would address a motion for clarification or, in the alternative, petition for partial reconsideration of an order that the FCC adopted in 2013 aimed at ensuring that 911 service remains available during and after disasters (TRDaily, Dec. 12, 2013), an agency source told TRDaily today.

In its filing (TRDaily, Feb. 27, 2014), Intrado, Inc., asked the FCC “to confirm that Section 12.4 (b) of the agency’s rules permits Covered 911 Service Providers to take reasonable alternative measures with respect to auditing, tagging, and eliminating single points of failure with respect to Critical 911 Circuits and auditing network Monitoring Links. In the alternative, Intrado respectfully requests the Commission reconsider the Report and Order and amend Subsections 12.4 (c)(1) and (3) to provide flexibility to enable Providers to take reasonable alternative measures in lieu of auditing, tagging, and eliminating single points of failure with respect to Critical 911 Circuits and auditing network Monitoring Links.” Continue reading

DHS S&T Announces Collaboration with Emergency Management Victoria (Australia) and MIT Lincoln Laboratory

Washington D.C. – Today, U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) Under Secretary Dr. Reginald Brothers met with the Honourable Jane Garrett, Member of Parliament; Minister for Emergency Services, State of Victoria and Mr. Craig Lapsley, Commissioner, Emergency Management Victoria and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Lincoln Laboratory (MIT LL) Dr. Melissa G. Choi, Head, Homeland Protection and Air Traffic Control Division, to recommit to the strategic partnership to collaborate on advancing information-sharing capabilities for public safety.

The objective of all emergency management activities is to reduce the impact of emergencies on human life, communities, infrastructure and the environment. Timely and relevant emergency information for communities, first responders and emergency management agencies is integral in enabling them to make effective decisions before, during and after emergencies.

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

FCC Daily Digest, June 29, 2015

The FCC released an Order dated June 26, 2015, which grants the State of New Mexico a waiver of the June 13, 2014 deadline to file substantial service showings for the 700 MHz designated state land mobile radio channels.  Without the waiver grant which FCC issued, New Mexico would have lost its license for these 700 MHz state channels.

FCC Daily Digest:  NEW MEXICO, STATE OF, REQUEST FOR WAIVER OF SECTION 90.529(B)(1) OF THE COMMISSION’S RULES.   Granted New Mexico’s waiver request, and dismissed as moot, New Mexico’s earlier-filed extension request. Action by:  Deputy Chief, Policy and Licensing Division, Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau. Adopted:  06/26/2015 by ORDER. (DA No. 15-760).  PSHSB



Andy Seybold’s Public Safety Advocate, June 27, 2015

I spent this past week at the Idaho National Labs (INL)) in Idaho Falls, Idaho. They have a very quiet, 980 square mile communications test range and are in the process of installing band 14 (Public Safety Broadband) at the site. They have working sites today and several Cells on Wheels (COWS). In addition they have just finished a fiber run to the sites with fiber drops every 300 feet along the route permitting the COWS to be connected anywhere along the route or to one or more of their Satellite systems. The LTE engineers are sharp, and work both in the lab and in the real world testing systems and helping make sure that they work.

In addition they have, on staff, a world class Cyber Security team that is very good at not only breaking into sites and networks but in documenting how it was done and then providing a roadmap of how to fix the problems. INL is one of the nation’s hidden resources serving the atomic energy industry, training first responders in identifying and handling atomic materials, and now spending a lot of time in the wireless space as well as cyber security for the world of control systems.

Don’t forget that the FirstNet RFP comments are due by Noon on July 27th, if you are going to take part in FirstNet or respond to the RFP as a bidder or partner in the bidding process, these comments are a good, and perhaps the only chance, you will have to make sure that the RFP is truly describing what the Public Safety community needs and will end up with. Have a great rest of the week-end
FCC Chair: “Broadband Should Be Available To Everyone Everywhere”BuzzFeed News via Google Alerts Jun 26 22:15 FCC Chair Tom Wheeler championed broadband access and defended net neutrality as he dismissed characterizations of the FCC as an …

Regulators push for more broadband competition, but is it enough?CNet Jun 26 22:10 The head of the Federal Communications Commission said the agency is doing all it can to promote broadband competition, but smaller wireless providers say it’s not enough. Continue reading

Radio Problems after D.C. Metro Incident Detailed at NTSB Hearing

A District of Columbia fire official today detailed problems his department had communicating using their radios underground after they responded to a fatal January incident in the Washington area’s Metro rail system. Derron Hawkins, deputy chief of D.C.’s Fire & Emergency Medical Services Department, testified today on the first day of a two-day investigative hearing conducted by the National Transportation Safety Board.

During the Jan. 12 incident, heavy smoke filled a tunnel outside the L’Enfant Plaza station as well as a train in the tunnel, resulting in the death of a passenger and injuries to dozens of others. Chief Hawkins testified that his responders first experienced radio problems – he said the equipment began to “honk out” – as soon as they went down the elevator shaft to the station’s platform. The also experienced problems communicating in the station and tunnel.

Mr. Hawkins said the responders followed the protocol in such instances – by turning from the city’s 800 megahertz band system to a vehicle repeater system to talk-around channels to the use of runners. By contrast, Hercules Ballard, managing director-rail transportation for the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA), said that Metro responders using its 490 MHz radio system reported no radio communications problems after the train incident. Continue reading

FCC Action Expected this Year in NSI Phone Proceeding

The FCC is expected to take action “later this year” in its non-service-initialized (NSI) phone proceeding, according to David Furth, deputy chief of the Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau. But Mr. Furth did not offer any time line at a Capitol Hill event today for when the Commission might act next in a “sunny-day” 911 outage proceeding. “We’re working on it actively,” he said in response to a question at a luncheon sponsored by the NG9-1-1 Institute. “I don’t think I can give you a sense of timing at this point.”

In April, the FCC released a notice of proposed rulemaking that proposed to eliminate, after six months, the requirement that wireless carriers forward 911 calls from NSI handsets to public safety answering points (PSAPs) (TRDaily, April 2). In comments filed earlier this month, public safety and wireless entities generally disagreed on whether the FCC should eliminate the requirement (TRDaily, June 8).

Public safety entities said the Commission should phase out the rule, citing what they said are a huge number of harassing or crank calls to PSAPs from NSI phones, while most wireless entities said the FCC should keep it, citing the benefits it provides legitimate callers. A group that helps domestic violence victims also opposed elimination of the mandate, citing the benefits of NSI phones to those victims.

Regarding the 911 outage proceeding, the FCC last November adopted an NPRM that proposed requiring 911 communications service providers to provide public notice of major outages and requiring potential new providers to certify their technical and operational qualifications (TRDaily, Nov. 21, 2014). In response, a myriad of industry entities criticized the NPRM, while some state, 911, and public safety entities said that while they supported some of the FCC’s proposals, they opposed any FCC actions that would usurp state and local control over PSAPs (TRDaily, March 24). Continue reading

Congress Passes Bill Requiring Interoperability at DHS Agencies

The House passed by voice vote a bill (HR 615) to require the Department of Homeland Security to take steps to ensure that its component agencies have interoperable communications. The House agreed to a Senate amendment to HR 615, which the House had passed in February on a 379-0 vote (TRDaily, Feb. 3). The Senate approved that amendment on June 11. The bill now heads to President Obama.

The Department of Homeland Security Interoperable Communications Act was introduced by Rep. Donald M. Payne Jr. (D., N.J.), ranking member of the House Homeland Security Committee’s emergency preparedness, response, and communications subcommittee. The legislation would require the under secretary-management at DHS to take action to ensure department components can communicate with each other. Continue reading

NIIX Leverages Interoperability in Georgia—How the Georgia Community Uses This Free Website

Nick Brown, Statewide Interoperability Coordinator (SWIC), Homeland Security Division, Georgia Emergency Management Agency (GEMA)/Homeland Security, discusses how the National Interoperability Information Exchange (NIIX) helps him manage interoperability and public safety communications more effectively in Georgia.

The National Interoperability Information eXchange (NIIX) is a secure, collaborative, and free website tool created for the public safety communications community. NIIX members create their own communities where their members can collaborate in the creation and development of their documents, interoperability plans, events, and training opportunities.

“NIIX allows us to share important information with stakeholders,” says Nick Brown. “Members can access the calendar to find out about upcoming events or find shared documents in the document section. Having this as a ‘one stop shop’ for all interoperability efforts has allowed us to deliver better products and services to stakeholders.”

NIIX was created by the National Public Safety Telecommunications Council (NPSTC), a federation of public safety organizations whose mission is to improve public safety communications and interoperability through collaborative leadership, with the support of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS’s) Office for Interoperability and Compatibility (OIC) and Office of Emergency Communications (OEC).

Mr. Brown is a NIIX Georgia Community Coordinator who exemplifies how to effectively manage a NIIX Community and who has been awarded a NPSTC Participant’s Award in 2015 for his efforts with NPSTC and as a NIIX Georgia Community Coordinator.

The State of Georgia originally heard about NIIX through information provided by NPSTC and DHS-OEC. Georgia began using NIIX in early 2010 as its central portal for information sharing on Georgia’s interoperability efforts. Jim Mollohan, Georgia Region 10 RPC Chairman, had an existing NIIX Georgia Community, and Mr. Brown was added as a second Community Coordinator and began using it for all communications-related activities.

Utilizing a NIIX Community can assist public safety communications organizations to better support and manage interoperability and public safety communications efforts. NIIX Community Coordinators are the drivers of keeping communities active. To be a successful NIIX Community requires the community members to participate actively in the communities they have joined. For more stakeholders to become involved in NIIX, it is important for public safety organizations to “spread the word” about the benefits of NIIX. “GEMA stresses the importance of NIIX in all of its outreach efforts, including training, exercises, meetings, and workshops,” Mr. Brown says.

NIIX provides functions that enhance community collaboration and allow for easy sharing of information. “Personnel know they can rely on timely and important information coming from the community without being overwhelming or occurring so often that the information is too much to handle on a daily or weekly basis,” says Mr. Brown. “We typically only send out a message or two each month.”

The Georgia NIIX Community stays active and relevant to its membership. Mr. Brown says he relies on the NIIX calendar and the community notification functions. “I like the community notification and events calendars the best. The notification eliminates the need to maintain a separate email distribution list. We didn’t have another easily accessible calendar for agencies to access, so the calendar on NIIX is very helpful.”

The NIIX Community calendar is also effective in organizing or publicizing state training classes, workshops, webinars, and other public safety events. There is also a link to the NPSTC website public safety calendar on the NIIX main page. Mr. Brown says he lists Georgia’s Communications Unit Leader (COML) and Communications Unit Technician (COMT) classes on the community calendar and sends community notifications to members about registration information.

Mr. Brown says he has received positive feedback from NIIX users who have accessed the documents section to retrieve exercise information from previous events, so they can review and practice their processes/procedures for future exercises. Each community has the capability to add documents to its document section that only members of the community can access. Community members can securely and easily review document examples and collaborate on document development. NIIX members can also access the NIIX National Repository, which contains different types of public safety and interoperability related documents.

With Mr. Brown’s extensive experience as a NIIX Community Coordinator, he has some suggestions for effectively managing and engaging a NIIX Community. “Understanding the type of information that is viewed as important for stakeholders will ensure the appropriate level of information and engagement.” Mr. Brown actively solicits input from users to find out the type of information they’d like to receive. “Keep in mind that frequency, length, and type of information may affect how much users pay attention to the information provided by the site,” he adds.

Other states can benefit from using NIIX like Georgia has done. “Georgia has benefited by allowing members and stakeholders to ‘opt in’ to be part of the community to ensure they are included on all interoperable communication activity notifications from the State of Georgia. If at any time their position changes and they’re no longer involved in communications, their account can be cancelled to basically ‘opt out’ and they’ll no longer receive the notifications. Using separate email distribution lists may make the ‘opt out’ option more difficult if their position ever changes.”

NIIX is an excellent and beneficial collaborative resource for the public safety communications community. “NIIX is a resource that allows public safety in Georgia to leverage our efforts,” Mr. Brown says.

For more information about how to register for NIIX or become a part of a NIIX Community, please email support@niix.org, or check out the NIIX website.

About NPSTC: NPSTC is a federation of public safety organizations whose mission is to improve public safety communications and interoperability through collaborative leadership. NPSTC pursues the role of resource and advocate for public safety organizations in the United States on matters relating to public safety telecommunications. NPSTC explores technologies and public policy involving public safety telecommunications, analyzes the ramifications of particular issues and submits comments to governmental bodies with the objective of furthering public safety telecommunications worldwide.

NPSTC’s ongoing dialogue on national public safety telecommunication issues affects policies and technologies that affect local organizations every day. NPSTC actively seeks your participation as a person interested in public safety telecommunications. Whether you are a first responder, a technician, a dispatcher, or a manager, everyone has a unique perspective we welcome. As a NPSTC participant you can impact national policies of tomorrow and be a part of planning the future course of public safety communications today by being part of the debate and discussion.

For more information, please visit www.npstc.org.


U.S.-Mexican Officials Report Progress in Spectrum Talks

FCC and Mexican officials have reported progress in a recent meeting that U.S. officials had with their Mexican counterparts on various spectrum issues, including realignment of the 800 megahertz band.

The officials met in Mexico last week. U.S. representatives included officials from the FCC and State and Commerce departments, while Mexican representatives included officials from Mexico’s new telecom regulator, Federal Institute of Telecommunications (IFT), and the Foreign Affairs and Communications and Transport ministries.

“From my perspective, both delegations were very pleased with the outcome of these discussions,” Mindel De La Torre, chief of the FCC’s International Bureau, said in a blog posting today. “On 800 MHz . we agreed to a roadmap accelerating the reconfiguration process along the common border,” she said. “The roadmap is in accordance with a Protocol signed with Mexico in 2012. It includes a process for confirming when channels are cleared in Mexico.” Continue reading