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

DHS OEC eNewsletter, Volume 16, June 2015

DHS Office of Emergency Communications’ (OEC) official eNewsletter – the Emergency Communications Forum (ECF). Click the link below to view ECF-Volume 16 that includes the following: An article detailing OEC’s role in Cascadia Rising, a functional exercise to prepare emergency responders for a Cascadia Subduction Zone 9.0 magnitude earthquake and tsunami along the West Coast of the United States; an overview of the emergency communications planning that occurred in preparation for the March 2015 50th anniversary of the Bloody Sunday civil rights march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama; and a recap of Admiral Ron Hewitt’s webinar for critical infrastructure stakeholders hosted at the law offices of Keller and Heckman in Washington, D.C.

These topics and more appear in this issue of the ECF. For questions or more information, please visit the DHS Office of Emergency Communications website at www.DHS.gov – keyword ‘OEC’ or email us at

NPSTC Generally Supports UWB Waiver

The National Public Safety Telecommunications Council has expressed general support for a waiver request filed by Kyma Medical Technologies Ltd. to permit the marketing of an ultra-wideband medical imaging and diagnostic device.

“From a usage standpoint, devices such as those described by Kyma could be beneficial for the diagnosis and treatment of patients recovering from congestive heart failure,” NPSTC said in comments filed in ET docket 15-119. “Based on technical analysis conducted with information in the Kyma waiver request, NPSTC believes the risk of interference to public safety communications in the 700 MHz and 800 MHz bands from a Kyma device is minimal. However, if use of the Kyma device at a hospital or elder care facility would change the timing of transmissions from that described in the waiver request, or result in multiple devices operating on the same sub-band simultaneously, potential interference might be more noticeable. Accordingly, while generally supporting the waiver request, NPSTC recommends the Commission consider if any operational conditions need to be applied in such cases.”

Robert Bosch LLC said it “supports the grant of the Kyma waiver of Section 15.503(d) of the Commission’s Rules. But more broadly than this, Bosch requests that the Commission provide, for all UWB manufacturers, the opportunity to apply a practical interpretation of the Section 15.503(d) definition of minimum bandwidth, focusing on the – 10 dB requirement and the fractional bandwidth requirement, and to apply the ‘at any point in time’ provision to mean that the minimum bandwidth must be complied with at all times during the normal operating cycle of the emission being utilized by a UWB device.”

The GPS Innovation Alliance said it “appreciates and supports advances in medical technologies and the promise that Kyma’s uCor Device might bring to treat congestive heart failure. Kyma’s Waiver, however, as currently submitted raises questions, including how its operations will impact critical GPS services, that should be answered before it is allowed to proceed. The GPSIA therefore respectfully requests that the Commission defer any action on the Waiver until Kyma provides that information and it otherwise ensures that GPS operations are adequately protected.”- Paul Kirby, paul.kirby@wolterskluwer.com

Andy Seybold’s Public Safety Advocate, June 19, 2015

Lots of good press regarding the hearing held in the House of Representatives this week. TJ Kennedy the acting Executive Director for FirstNet gets high marks for his comments to the sub-committee and was even lauded for FirstNet’s recovery from earlier stumbles and now publishing and sticking to deadlines. One of the representatives asked a very pointed question. He asked if FirstNet were not under NTIA and was more of an Independent authority if the network could be built faster. At point it is important to understand that the truth is not an answer which will endear you to the NITA so you dodge the question and talk about how much better it is now than before. We all know that the answer to the question is HELL YES!

Every time the LTE will replace LMR for voice statement is made I cringe! Most of the time it is being made by people who have no public safety experience, no understanding of how different LTE networks and LMR networks really are. Instead they have been carrying a cell phone their entire lives and it works for them, is fully interoperable with anybody on earth, and costs under $500.

If these people are permitted to have their say and their way, FirstNet could be a cause of putting more first responder lives in danger because voice services as well as video and data services will all be riding on a common network with many more points of failure than LMR networks during natural and man made disasters. FirstNet was always about augmenting services to the First Responder community by adding video and data and not about replacing LMR radios. Will it happen some day, probably, but until my Police Chief, Fire Chief and their folks in the field say that they are 100% ready to trust their lives to Voice on LTE, LMR must remain alive and well.
Have a great week-end! Andy

House Hearing Draws Questions of Whether FirstNet Will Replace LMR NetworksThe RadioReference.com Forums via Google Alerts Jun 18 23:15 The sustainability of mission-critical voice networks as the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) Long Term Evolution (LTE) network rolls out. Continue reading

FirstNet Releases More RFP Answers

The First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) released the second batch of answers to questions concerning its draft request for proposals (RFP) and special notice it released in April (TRDaily, April 27). Today’s tranche included answers to 187 questions. Last week, FirstNet released answers to 95 questions (TRDaily, June 11). In all, FirstNet received 670 questions from 52 entities about the draft RFP and special notice, including in writing and during an industry day held last month (TRDaily, May 14). “It’s important to note that the authors of the RFP are the ones answering these questions, and that’s by design. Each answer potentially represents a piece of what may go into the subsequent RFP,” James Mitchell, FirstNet’s senior program manager-operations, said in a blog posting today. “Moreover, we expect these answers to drive some of the comments and capabilities statements we will see coming in towards the end of July. For the next few weeks, FirstNet will continue to post responses on a rolling basis, just like you’ve seen us do so far.”