APCO’s Urgent Call to Action

We write to you today to request that you take action immediately to ensure the federal government reclassifies Public Safety Telecommunicators as “Protective” occupations, placing them alongside other public safety occupations as opposed to the current classification with secretaries and taxicab dispatchers. Time is running out, and we won’t have another chance to change this for 10 years.

Our initial call to action, announced during a webinar with a few hundred participants, asked you to tell the federal officials involved that you disagreed with their initial decision to maintain the status quo. Within 18 hours, more than 5,000 of you and your colleagues responded. So far, less than half that number have responded to our current action items. You may be thinking that others are taking action so what’s one more email or one more comment filed. But your colleagues may be thinking the same thing. Don’t let your inaction be the reason we lose this fight. To win this fight, we need responses in the tens of thousands. We understand that the federal officials need significant data to support changing the classification so no one can afford to sit on the sidelines.

APCO’s Take Action page has links to forms that make advocacy as simple as possible.  We are asking members, colleagues, and supporters to:

  1. Relate a story to the federal officials that illustrates the protective work performed by 9-1-1 professionals (see our simple guide to filing comments); and
  2. Ask Congress to join the fight.

You can find more information on the reclassification process on APCO’s website, and our staff is here to answer any questions – gro@apcointl.org.

This is a major effort, and we will only succeed with your support. You and I know that 9-1-1 professionals are saving lives every day, and appropriate recognition for this work is long overdue. #911protectsme

OEC Outreach: Secured Cities Attendees to Tour Houston Emergency Management Center (8/25)

Secured Cities will be held in Houston, Texas, November 15 – 17, and is the only government security and communications event that features on-site and behind the scenes public safety tours. The first tour Secured Cities is excited to announce is of the Houston Emergency Management Center, A Division of the Mayor’s Office of Public Safety and Homeland Security.

OEC Outreach:New Tower Construction Standard Set for Release (8/25) – Mission Critical Communications

The Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA) will release a new standard to facilitate improved communications between engineers and contractors when planning and assessing tower construction. The new American National Standards Institute (ANSI) approved standard — ANSI/TIA-322, Loading Criteria, Analysis, and Design Related to the Installation, Alteration and Maintenance of Communication Structures — revises and redacts TIA’s original 1019-A standard, first published in 2012.

OEC Outreach: Police vests go broadband: How body-worn cameras affect mission critical infrastructure (8/25) – Urgent Communications

For video to be useful as an official record or even as evidence, it must be transmitted and stored in a manner that will ensure that it cannot be tampered with. Unlike with other evidence, video needs to pass through a network infrastructure in order to move from the field to a secure storage area—and there is no reason to assume that the networks that police use are any safer from hackers than the networks banks, government, and ordinary citizens use. Fortunately, there are ways for police departments to protect video and keep it intact as part of a chain of evidence.

FCC Daily Digest, August 26, 2016

800 MHz application freeze along U.S./Mexican border extended to February 1, 2017:Released:  08/26/2016.  PUBLIC SAFETY AND HOMELAND SECURITY BUREAU EXTENDS 800 MHZ APPLICATION FREEZE ALONG BORDER WITH MEXICO. (DA No.  16-978). (Dkt No 02-55 ).  PSHSB . Contact:  Brian Marenco at (202) 418-0838, email: Brian.Marenco@fcc.gov https://apps.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/DA-16-978A1.doc; https://apps.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/DA-16-978A1.pdf

FCC sets August 31, 2017, as the deadline for narrowband 700 MHz operations to vacate the 700 MHz broadband spectrum licensed to FirstNet, absent FirstNet’s express consent for a licensee to remain longer.  FirstNet recently provided grants totaling 26.8M to incumbents to support the relocations. In the same decision, FCC also declines to set specific buildout requirements for FirstNet as it implements the NPSBN. In a companion NPRM, FCC proposes the procedures for FCC review of opt-out requests.  Comments are due 30 days after publication of the NPRM in the Federal Register.  

PROCEDURES FOR COMMISSION REVIEW OF STATE OPT-OUT REQUESTS FROM THE FIRSTNET RADIO ACCESS NETWORK, ET AL.   Addresses the 700 MHz spectrum licensed to the First Responder Network Authority. (Dkt No.  16-269 06-229 12-94 06-150 ). Action by:  the Commission. Adopted:  08/24/2016 by R&O/NPRM. (FCC No. 16-117).  PSHSB  https://apps.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/FCC-16-117A1.doc; https://apps.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/FCC-16-117A2.docx; https://apps.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/FCC-16-117A1.pdf; https://apps.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/FCC-16-117A2.pdf




OEC Outreach: Sedalia, Mo., Practices for Earthquake Response (8/24) – Sedalia Democrat – MO

Emergency response teams from across the state were in Sedalia on Tuesday to help fake victims of a fake earthquake as part of a National Mass Care Series Exercise.  From Monday through Wednesday, teams are testing plans for evacuating and sheltering potential victims of a New Madrid Seismic Zone earthquake. The zone, located in New Madrid, Missouri, in the southern part of the state, has not produced a major earthquake since 1812, but the exercises are meant to help responders be prepared in case another ever occurs. “What I understand is that they have been able to look back, digging in the ground, and they think it goes off in a big event once every 250 years,” said Sedalia-Pettis County Emergency Management Agency Director Dave Clippert.

Andy Seybold’s Public Safety Advocate Weekly News, August 26, 2016

I missed APCO, but I have been following the many articles and tweets and gained a sense of the flavor of the conference. It sounds as though it was another great event and that the interest in FirstNet has grown at each of the past four APCO conferences as well as at its other events during the year. The conference is over and FirstNet is still on track to make an award for the RFP (which we know was responded to by at least three teams, and perhaps more). Hopefully, those not chosen will understand that any delays in the execution of the contract will only hurt Public Safety, the very organization they have expressed interest in assisting. The Department of Commerce, which is responsible for appointing FirstNet Board of Directors for FirstNet, has returned Chairwoman Sue Swenson, Jeffery Johnson Fire Chief (ret), and Teri Takai. I think it is good for FirstNet that there are no significant changes in the board makeup at this point in its evolution. It is hoped that their desire to issue a contract to an RFP bidder to become the FirstNet/Public Safety partner is on track for November. I hope the bidders who are not selected will remain solid supporters of the Public Safety community and not do anything to delay the much needed next steps of building this network. Sometimes I feel like a broken record, but then perhaps most people today don’t even know what a broken record is!

In any event, I am still having a hard time believing that those involved in the technology of FirstNet and NOT its operational aspects, still do not understand the difference between Push-To-Talk (PTT) on Land Mobile Radio (LMR) systems versus PTT over broadband (LTE). The most significant differences are as follows:

1) To be considered mission-critical (Public Safety grade), mission critical PTT needs to run on what is truly a mission critical network.

2) LMR systems today are far more Public Safety grade than any LTE broadband system.

3) We have yet to see if FirstNet and its partner will be able to build a mission critical broadband network.

4) Mission Critical PTT over LTE is a new, unproven standard that is not even in the field yet.

5) We have no idea, at this point, how much of the needed data and video bandwidth will be lost due to multiple PTT users within a single, capacity constrained cell sector.

6) The decision to make use of PTT over FirstNet cannot be made by the technologists who are quick to tell us it is coming and will be here soon. It will only be viable once the Public Safety community trusts it and stops using their own LMR systems.

Until all of these conditions are met it makes no sense for those who are not in the field, those who do not face the challenges the dangers that first responders face every day, to tell the Public Safety community that PTT over FirstNet is coming real-soon-now, and that their LMR radio systems will be obsolete in only a few years. This is a dangerous statement to make and it needs to be tempered with the reality that it might actually happen in the future. The only issue is how long into the future will it be? I don’t know why those who have not spent time in the field, and those who have not even participated in a ride-along during a Friday or Saturday evening, think they understand and know what the Public Safety community wants and needs. Continue reading

OEC Outreach: IEMA gets $14M+ grant for equipment upgrade (8/24) – Illinois Homepage

The First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) is giving a grant of more than $14 million to fund the relocation of emergency response communication systems. It’s in preparation for the Nationwide Public Safety Broadband Network (NPSBN). The award to the Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA) is more than half the $26.8 million FirstNet awarded to eight recipients nationwide.  Public safety groups around the country were offered the chance to get funding for relocating existing radios and systems from Band 14 in advance of the deployment and operation of the NPSBN.

OEC Outreach Clips: The Role of GIS in the Aftermath of a Wildfire (8/24)

Geographic information systems (GIS) have assumed a key role in firefighting operations in recent years. Sophisticated GIS-driven mapping can help responders track events and position resources, layering on weather information and demographic data to give rescuers a full picture of the situation on the ground. GIS may come into play before a fire, for example in helping municipalities mark the exact locations of fire hydrants. During an emergency, geospatial visualizations can help rescuers to plan routes, track the spread of fire and identify communities at immediate risk.  In addition to fulfilling such roles before and during a fire, GIS also can serve an important function for the emergency management community in the aftermath of a blaze. By tying satellite imagery to municipal databases and putting that information in the hands of trained field workers, GIS can dramatically speed up vital damage assessment efforts.

OEC Outreach: From the SAFECOM Blog

Project 25 Letter Sent to FEMA (8/24) – SAFECOM Blog

On August 11, 2016, SAFECOM and the National Council of Interoperability Coordinators (NCSWIC) sent a letter to Brian E. Kamoie, Assistant Administrator for the Grant Programs Directorate (GPD) at the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), providing recommendations for strengthening grantee compliance with P25 standards. Currently, the annual SAFECOM Guidance on Emergency Communications Grants (SAFECOM Guidance) allows grantees to submit written justification for non-standards purchases, when needed. SAFECOM and NCSWIC believe this clause creates a loophole for state and local agencies to purchase non-standard equipment, hindering interoperability. Thus, SAFECOM and NCSWIC proposed the recommendations in the letter for establishing stronger P25 compliance standards.