Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D., N.H.) asked Federal Aviation Administrator Michael Huerta in a letter dated today to keep in mind the needs of fire fighters and other providers of disaster relief as the FAA proceeds with its efforts announced last week (TRDaily, Oct. 19) to create a task force to develop recommendations for a registration process for unmanned aircraft systems (UAS). Sen. Shaheen noted her introduction on Oct. 7 of the Wildfire and Emergency Airspace Protection Act, which would make it a federal criminal offense to knowingly launch a drone for recreational purposes that interferes with fire or disaster response efforts.
“I applaud the FAA’s actions and encourage you to closely consider the impact of drones on disaster relief efforts and to seriously weigh the opinions of emergency responders throughout your process,” she said in the letter to Mr. Huerta.
A cornerstone of successful interoperable emergency communication is having and maintaining effective governance bodies. The structure of these bodies varies greatly nationwide, as does available communication technology, funding models, network upgrade plans and training standards.
SAFECOM – a group within the Department of Homeland Security with a mission of improving emergency response provider communications and interoperability – and the National Council of Statewide Interoperability Coordinators (NCSWIC) recognize the importance of establishing emergency communication governance recommendations and have recently released the Governance Guide for State, Local, Tribal and Territorial Emergency Communication Officials (Governance Guide) as a comprehensive tool for public safety professionals.
The Governance Guide addresses the first goal of the National Emergency Communications Plan (NECP), released by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Office of Emergency Communications (OEC), focusing on “enhanced decision-making, coordination, and planning for emergency communications through strong governance structures and leadership.” Continue reading
Hands-free devices that allow people to send texts using voice commands can still pose cognitive distractions for drivers because mental distractions can persist for up 27 seconds after the action, according to research results released by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. “The lasting effects of mental distraction pose a hidden and pervasive danger that would likely come as a surprise to most drivers,” said Peter Kissinger, president and chief executive officer of the group. “The results indicate that motorists could miss stop signs, pedestrians and other vehicles while the mind is readjusting to the task of driving.”
The First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) has received 40 submissions from industry and states in response to a draft appendix that it released earlier this month (TRDaily, Oct. 5) to help inform its preparation of cybersecurity portions of its final request for proposals (RFP), according to FirstNet spokesman Ryan Oremland. The deadline to submit comments was yesterday. FirstNet is not releasing the submissions. But a submission provided to TRDaily by the Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials-International said, among other things, that “FirstNet should provide more details on how its cybersecurity strategy will involve and account for Public Safety Answering Points (PSAPs).”
The First Responder Network Authority is asking the FCC to condition the licenses or other authorizations to use the 700 megahertz Band 14 “upon the requirement that no operation on Band 14 be permitted without the express consent of FirstNet after July 31, 2017.”
In an Oct. 20 ex parte filing in PS dockets 12-94 and 06-229 and WT docket 06-150, FirstNet noted that its board in August authorized management to establish a spectrum relocation grant program to clear remaining incumbents from Band 14 to ensure available unencumbered spectrum for the nationwide public safety network (TRDaily, Aug. 17). FirstNet said recently that there are 13 incumbents in the spectrum, mostly public safety agencies. Continue reading
FCC Commissioners Ajit Pai and Mike O’Rielly dissented today from the Commission’s decision to set caps on charges for interstate and intrastate inmate calling services (ICS), arguing that the agency’s action exceeds its legal authority. In a change from the draft ICS items as originally circulated (TRDaily, Sept. 30), the Wireline Competition docket 12-375 order and third further notice of proposed rulemaking (FNPRM) adopted at today’s Commission meeting do not apply the rate caps to international ICS calls, and instead seek further comment on the possibility.
Similarly, mandatory data collections from ICS providers that were in the draft order have become proposals for further comment in the third FNPRM. In addition, while the new rate caps would take effect for ICS providers at prisons 90 days after publication in the “Federal Register,” as the original draft order would have required, ICS providers at jails have additional time under the order as adopted. The rate caps would not take effect at jails until six months after the “Federal Register” notice.
The ICS item follows a 2013 order setting an interim cap of 21 cents per minute on interstate ICS rates, which then acting Chairwoman Mignon L. Clyburn and Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel adopted over the dissent of Commissioner Ajit Pai. At the time, the nominations of Tom Wheeler and Mike O’Rielly were pending before the Senate.
The text of the order and FNPRM was not available at TRDaily’s news deadline. The Commission granted staff editorial privileges to make minor changes over the objection of Commissioner O’Rielly.
Last year, with only partial agreement by Commissioners Ajit Pai and Mike O’Rielly, the FCC voted to seek input on additional ways it could address high ICS rates, including a permanent rate cap for intrastate as well as interstate ICS services and a prohibition on payments by providers to prisons and other facilities for the privilege of providing services to inmates and their families, known as site commissions.
Today, Chairman Wheeler gave credit to Commissioner Clyburn for pushing ICS reform action forward and said that he expected she would “keep my feet to the fire” on addressing the issues raised in today’s FNPRM. Commissioner Clyburn, in turn, said that the Chairman had kept his pledge to her that he would move forward on the ICS proceeding, and said with respect to today’s FNPRM that she likes to finish what she starts. During her statement, she also thanked Commissioner Rosenworcel for her support on the 2013 order, when the two formed a majority on that item over the dissent of Commissioner Pai. Continue reading
This past week, FirstNet published its final version of the meanings of the terms and definitions in the law that created FirstNet and provided the needed broadband spectrum. Sometimes this “what did Congress really mean by this word or phrase” is provided by Congressional staffers after a law is passed but this was not done in this case. So FirstNet asked for comments from Public Safety, the vendor community, and other interested parties. It asked for input on two different occasions and this past week we saw the results of its findings.
As I mentioned previously, the most important ruling made by FirstNet is that states that opt out cannot use any funds derived from user fees or secondary user lease agreements for their own state’s purposes. The funds must be used to expand, manage, and operate the network. This one ruling will have a positive impact on Public Safety, FirstNet, and perhaps some vendors that have been sitting on the fence wondering if they should file a response to the RFP when it is released in late December. One of the concerns I kept hearing from potential bidders is that if a number of states opt out, perhaps even states that have major metro areas where the secondary spectrum is more valuable, the value of the RFP to the vendor is diminished. The spectrum has the most value for those bidding in major metro areas and if the network is one contiguous network from both a First Responder and a secondary user point of view. FirstNet changed the RFP rules so the responses can only be for a nationwide system and now has limited the way in which states might have access to any funds raised within their state, both of which are good news. I believe some states have been led to believe that if they do opt out they will be permitted to keep the funds realized for their portion of the network.
I have heard from some sources within state governments and who are involved with FirstNet that some states have been promised $millions of dollars in revenue that would be derived from the network if they opted out and permitted this company or that company to build the network and manage it for them. The ruling by FirstNet stops the spread of misinformation once and for all and should limit the number of states that opt out since there is no longer any financial reward to do so.
This coming week in Chicago is the International Chiefs of Police (IACP) annual conference. I will be attending, meeting with various organizations, vendors, and others, and of course wandering the show floor looking for new and innovative products that might enhance Public Safety’s capabilities on both existing commercial broadband networks and FirstNet as it is built out. I hope to run into a number of you there. Have a great weekend and if you are traveling to IACP, travel safely! Andy
FirstNet’s latest legal interpretations make opt-out alternative less appealing to states, territories – Urgent Communications via Google Alerts Oct 20 13:30 Under the current law, every state and territory will be part of the nationwide public-safety broadband network overseen by FirstNet. For states and …
FirstNet Releases Dozens of Final Interpretations – National Public Safety Telecommunications Council – NPSTC via Google Alerts Oct 16 22:15 The First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) today released two public notices … Continue reading