Doug Aiken, Vice Chair and Founding Member of NPSTC Named as New Executive Director of IMSA

Rockledge, FL, January 20, 2016 Chief Douglas M. Aiken has been appointed as the Executive Director of the International Municipal Signal Association (IMSA).

“The Board is pleased to announce this appointment,” said IMSA Board of Directors President Hans Kristensen.  “In addition to his duties as IMSA Deputy Executive Director, Doug has served as Interim Executive Director on two occasions.  His leadership and vision have contributed greatly to the mission of IMSA and the support of our membership,” said Kristensen.  Chief Aiken has served as IMSA Deputy Executive Director since May 2011.  Prior to joining the IMSA staff he held elected offices as a member of IMSA including Chairman of the Board of Directors for three years.  Aiken is a 35-year veteran of the fire service and served in several public safety leadership positions at the national level.

Aiken’s experience and background will enable advancement of IMSA’s initiatives in certification and training as well as expanding its relationship with federal agencies and other public safety associations. He will work with international staff to continue to best serve the needs of our members. “I look forward to working with IMSA leadership and our members in support of IMSA’s mission,” said Aiken.

About IMSA

IMSA’s 12,000 members represent public safety agencies in all 50 states, all Canadian provinces and other countries.  Membership is divided into 23 geographic sections.  IMSA members serve on several standards making technical committees including those of the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and the National Council of Uniform Traffic Control Devices (NCUTCD).  IMSA is designated by the FCC as the public safety frequency coordinator for fire, EMS, and public safety pool frequencies including 800 MHz.

IMSA is the oldest known association of its kind in the world.  It dates back to October 1896, when a group of municipal signal men from several east coast cities met in Brooklyn, New York and organized the association then called the “International Association of Fire and Police Telegraph Superintendents.”  In 1900, the organization changed its name to “International Association of Municipal Electricians” (I.A.M.E.).  In September 1937, the organization name was officially changed to “International Municipal Signal Association” (IMSA).


Parties Should Not Wait to Submit FirstNet RFP Questions, Capability Statements

Parties with questions on the First Responder Network Authority’s (FirstNet) request for proposals (RFP) should not wait until the Feb. 12 deadline to submit them if they have them ready earlier, FirstNet said during a webinar on the RFP, which was released earlier this week (TRDaily, Jan. 13). They also should not wait to submit voluntary capability statements, which are due March 17, FirstNet said.

Submitting questions and capability statements early will give FirstNet more time to review them, webinar participants were told. During the webinar, which ran less than 30 minutes, officials quickly outlined what each document in the RFP addresses but did not go into details on them or take questions.

The RFP runs 511 pages, although 342 of those are in 26 attachments, including a 100-page report issued in 2012 by the FCC’s Technical Advisory Board for First Responder Interoperability (TRDaily, May 23, 2012).

The network would be deployed in five phases over five years. The term of the contract to oversee the network deployment and maintenance would be 25 years. Continue reading

Entities Raise Questions with NTIA’s FirstNet Fee Review Approach

Industry and public safety entities have raised questions about the National Telecommunications and Information Administration’s proposal for annually reviewing fees that will be charged to access the nationwide public safety broadband network being overseen by the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet). A sticking point is NTIA’s suggestion that it won’t review fees for their reasonableness. Others sought clarification about certain issues or asked NTIA to allow further comments to be submitted to provide time for parties to review FirstNet’s request for proposals (RFP).

Comments were filed by yesterday’s deadline in docket no. 151209999-5999-01 in response to a notice of proposed rulemaking released last month proposing rules governing NTIA’s annual review of fees that will be charged to access the FirstNet network (TRDaily, Dec. 14, 2015). Continue reading

DHS’s Emergency Communications Forum (ECF) Newsletter Now Online

ECF Volume 18, the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Office of Emergency Communications’ (OEC) official eNewsletter, has just been released. DHS OEC ECF Volume 18.pdf includes an interview with Bob Schwent, Washington Statewide Interoperability Coordinator, about communications interoperability planning for the U.S. Open Golf Championship; an inside look at the continued importance of emergency communications planning; highlights from the 2015 Maryland Command and Communications Rally; and a recap of recent OEC engagements at the All-Hazards Incident Management Teams Association Training and Educational Symposium and a joint meeting between SAFECOM and the National Council of Statewide Interoperability Coordinators.

These stories and more appear in this issue of the ECF. For questions or more information, please visit OEC’s website at (keyword ‘OEC’) or email us at


Transportation Officials, Automakers to Collaborate to Address Cyber Threats

The Department of Transportation and 18 automakers have agreed to “explore and employ ways to work collaboratively” to address cyber threats that could present “unreasonable safety risks.”

“The performance today’s vehicles achieve is due in large part to an increasing amount of computer hardware and software under the hood and behind the dashboard.  And the era of automated vehicle technologies we’re ushering in will add to that,” Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said today in a statement posted on the department’s website.

“We will engage our best cybersecurity minds, share known vulnerabilities and countermeasures, and adopt best practices from within as well as outside of the auto industry,” Mr. Foxx added. Continue reading

Andy Seybold’s Public Safety Advocate Discovery, January 15, 2016

FirstNet released the final RFP and today, Friday the 15th from 1-3 pm EST, it is providing a kick-off webinar. The link for access is on the website. This version of the RFP is a long way from the original that was released in the spring of 2015. I have to give the folks at FirstNet credit, in most cases it has managed to change the RFP from a government procurement document to a much friendlier partner RFP. However, I do wish I had a dollar for each time the terms FAR for Federal Acquisition Regulation, CAR for Department of Commence Acquisition Regulation, and DIAR for Department of Interior Acquisition Regulation were used. If I did I would never have to purchase another lottery ticket. I know this is a stupid question, but why three (3) sets of sometimes overlapping rules and regulations?

There are still sections that contradict other sections and plenty of procurement-type writing in the document, but on the whole it is a much more acceptable and workable document that for the most part should be well received by potential bidders (or as the RFP fondly calls them, Offerors). I still prefer potential partner myself. There is a mountain of documents to wade through and like many others I am still in the process of reading and digesting some of the content that is new or reworded.

FirstNet will respond to Questions (submitted on the correct form), and has scheduled a pre-proposal conference on March 10, 2016, with RFP responses due April 29, 2016. I am willing to bet that some potential respondents will still throw stones at this RFP but I think it is a workable document that gives vendors incentives to be creative in their responses. This is not a prefect document and as I review it in more depth there are some surprises in it for those who don’t pay attention to the details. I hope some of these can be mitigated in some fashion to encourage, rather than discourage participation. FirstNet is moving forward, let’s hope that once RFP responses have been submitted the award process does not slow to typical federal system speed. While this is a very complex network with many parties involved, Public Safety, which is the end-user community, needs this network in place sooner rather than later! Even though this is an election year with the usual change of seats in the higher levels of the government and new political appointments, I hope those involved in this process will move the award decision forward with all possible speed and not wait around to see who their new boss will be. Have a Great Weekend Andy

FirstNet RFP WebinarFirstNet via Google Alerts Jan 14 22:25 First Responder Network Authority …

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FirstNet Issues RFP, Seeks Comprehensive SolutionWireless Week via Google Alerts Jan 14 15:15 According to the RFP, the First Responder Network Authority is seeking a comprehensive solution from bidders that will cover each of the 56 states … Continue reading

January Twitter Chat: First Responders, Can you see us now?

In an emergency, broadband networks can quickly become overwhelmed. This makes passing vital data such as messages, pictures and videos, nearly impossible. Since losing communication is not an option for responders, the Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) First Responders Group began assessing broadband networks and looking for alternatives to deliver content.

In this effort, S&T partnered with cities and local police departments to pilot technologies and get firsthand input from responders. Houston and Chicago have been two valuable partners in piloting several technologies. Our partnerships go beyond individual projects to create meaningful, productive relationships between the federal government and our first responder communities.

One of the pilots aiming to make beneficial improvements in public safety broadband is the Chicago LTE Video Pilot. This pilot test served as a Proof of Concept to help identify baseline capabilities for broadband networks and determine potential network saturation levels and capacities in a real-world use case. Please join @dhsscitech on Wednesday, January 27 from 1 to 2 p.m. ET for a chat to discuss the importance of building relationships with the state and local response community and learn about some of S&T’s ongoing partnerships testing video datacasting and LTE technologies. Submit your questions and comments before, during or after the chat and use the #STTechTalk hashtag to engage in the two-way discussion. Learn more about the January Twitter Chat.

NASCIO Announces 2016 Federal Advocacy Priorities

WASHINGTON, D.C. Tuesday, January 12 — The National Association of State Chief Information Officers (NASCIO) announced its 2016 federal advocacy priorities today. NASCIO’s federal advocacy agenda will focus on the following areas: Cybersecurity, flexibility in federal regulations, Nationwide Public Safety Broadband Network (FirstNet), and information sharing.

“Cybersecurity is a top concern for state CIOs and with the tremendous growth in data that we anticipate, securing our public networks and the state’s digital assets are and will remain a top priority for NASCIO,” said NASCIO President Darryl Ackley, secretary of information technology for the state of New Mexico.

NASCIO will also be working with federal regulators to reduce regulatory burdens that hamper the business of state government. Federal agency rules typically promote a “silo” funding approach, where each grant funds IT infrastructure separately. Agency rules attached to federal funding generally do not promote enterprise IT consolidation, shared solutions, or the integrated channels of services sought by citizens. State CIOs need flexibility to prevent “stove-piped” systems and NASCIO will focus this year on reducing regulatory burdens and promoting regulatory flexibility.   Continue reading

National 911 Program Presents Free “State of 911” Webinar Event February 9, 2016

(Washington, D.C.) – January 11, 2016 – State and local 911 professionals, Federal agency representatives and other 911 stakeholders will participate in a “State of 911” webinar and question and answer session, presented by the National 911 Program, Tuesday, February 9 from 12-1pm Eastern Time. This webinar will feature a presentation by the National 911 Program.  Ms. Laurie Flaherty, Coordinator, National 911 Program will share:  Review of the National 911 Program 2015 activities; update on the 911 Grant Program; and overview of the nationwide NG911 cost study.

Also presenting and available for questions is Mr. Chuck Spalding, 911 Director from Palm Beach County Florida. Mr. Spalding will share the experiences and considerations of technical collaboration with the Coast Guard; field trials focused on mariners and their use of smartphones during an emergency; and overview of Palm Beach County’s ESInet deployment

Register now for the webinar on Tuesday, February 9 from 12-1pm Eastern Time.

About the State of 911 Forum: Designed to bring together information about Federal 911 activities as well as resources and NG911 “early adopter” case studies, the series provides a unique combination of useful tools, expert advice about Federal and State participation in the NG911 process and real stories about the NG911 transition process underway in regions around the country. Webinars take place every other month and topics and presenters include: standards development, governance, legislative changes, updates on NG911 efforts from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC ) Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau (PSHSB), National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), and early adopter experiences from states, counties, and regions in the process of transitioning to NG911. For more information about the webinar series, visit Contact:  Laurie Flaherty – or (202) 366-2705

Andy Seybold’s Real World Intelligence, January 11, 2016, Déjà Vu Yet Again?

Well, 2016 has arrived, the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas is in full swing this week, and hundreds of companies are touting the next big thing. LTE, or 4G, is already being relegated to last year’s technology as 5G, which does not even have a formal definition yet, is garnering all the press. And guess what? Yes, it is here again, Muni-Wi-Fi!

The latest “new” free Wi-Fi attempt is in New York City. The New York City project is, yet again, converting the city’s phone booths into Wi-Fi hotspots. I say “yet again” because if you google Wi-Fi for ‘NYC Telephone Booths’ you will find news articles spanning a number of years and covering different attempts at the same thing. First was Verizon Wireless in 2003. This effort fizzled out after only a few months, then in 2012 there was another try, this time by the city and  Google. This past month the Mayor of NYC, Bill de Blasio, announced, yet again, that phone booths in Manhattan, Queens, Brooklyn, the Bronx, and Staten Island will be converted to provide free Wi-Fi within 150 feet of each one.

Actually, this is a much more ambitious project with huge rewards for the city, or so some within the city seem to believe. According to the press release, “The new and improved booths would not only provide Wi-Fi, but also contain free cell phone charging stations and interactive touch screens with information on local attractions. The city says that the new franchise would produce $17.5 million in annual revenue by the end of June 2026, with potential franchisees including Verizon Wireless and AT&T.” Continue reading