NPSTC Board Approves Interoperability Best Practices, Encryption Reports

January 24 2017–The National Public Safety Telecommunications Council governing board today approved reports on radio interoperability best practices and encryption on interoperability channels and endorsed the establishment of a task force to help draft comments on a notice of inquiry released by the FCC’s Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau in December concerning cybersecurity issues related to 5G networks and devices (TRDaily, Dec. 16, 2016).

The reports on radio interoperability best practices included a master report and individual reports dealing with naming and usage, change management practices, and training and proficiency in the management and usage of equipment and systems.

The encryption report was prepared in the wake of a survey of how encryption is used by public safety agencies. It is designed to educate the public safety community about on channels encryption can be used and which it can’t, said Jason Matthews, who chaired a task group on the topic.

At today’s quarterly meeting, which was held via phone and webinar, the board also heard that several other reports are in the final stages and should be completed soon. For example, a report on broadband deployable systems should be done by the end of February, while one on LMR/LTE integration and interoperability will be ready in March, according to Barry Luke, NPSTC’s deputy executive director.

Other speakers said that a report on public safety guidelines for unmanned aerial systems (UAS) should be done by the end of next month, while a report on cross-border data sharing is being finalized. The board also named Barry Fraser head of a new working group on public safety issues related to the Internet of things. Mr. Fraser is general manager of the BayRICS Authority. “This is going to be a very challenging working group, I think,” Mr. Fraser said.

Kevin McGinnis, a member of the NPSTC board as well as the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) board, said that a legal challenge to FirstNet’s procurement “was absolutely expected,” but he said that FirstNet is “operationally ready to handle the partnership, whoever that partner is.” Rivada Mercury LLC is challenging the procurement (TRDaily, Dec. 2, 2016).

Scott Bryant of Scott Bryant and Associates reported on ongoing work to update NPSTC’s strategic plan. He said that more than 400 people completed a questionnaire and that governing board members and staffers have been interviewed. Ninety-eight percent of survey respondents said they were very satisfied or satisfied with NPSTC, 95% said they would recommend participation in the federation to others, and 95% said it has been effective in addressing public safety issues. “These numbers would be the envy of most organizations or businesses,” Mr. Bryant said.

At NPSTC’s March meeting in Las Vegas, the board will review and discuss comments received in response to the survey and interviews and the update of the strategic plan, he said. Dusty Rhoads, chief of the Public Safety and NSEP Communications Governance Branch at the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Emergency Communications, noted that OEC is conducting a nationwide baseline assessment of public safety communications capabilities this year. He urged NPSTC members to encourage the public safety community to respond to a survey that will be conducted by SAFECOM on current capabilities. Mr. Rhoads also noted that OEC has completed a reorganization. It is now organized into four branches.

Dereck Orr, chief of the Public Safety Communications Research (PSCR) Division at the National Institute of Standards and Technology, said PSCR has seen more interest than it expected in the up to $30 million in funds being awarded as part of its Public Safety Innovation Accelerator Program to advance research, development, and testing of key broadband technologies useful to public safety agencies (TRDaily, Dec. 9, 2016). “We’ve got a really good solid base of people interested,” he said. “We’re hoping we’re going to get a lot of really good applications.”

He said PSCR wants to award the grants before its annual conference in San Antonio in June and have a number of the grantees present at the meeting. – Paul Kirby, paul.kirby@wolterskluwer.com

Courtesy TRDaily