DENVER – The Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Emergency Communications is hoping that a long-awaited survey of first responders will be released next month to help it update the national baseline assessment of public safety communications capabilities, an OEC representative said here yesterday afternoon during a session at the APCO 2017 show. Eric Runnels, deputy chief of OEC’s NECP Implementation & Grant Coordination Branch, noted that the survey is going through the Paperwork Reduction Act process right now. He said that 6,000 responses to the survey are needed to make it scientifically valid.
The survey, which will be conducted by the SAFECOM program, will update an assessment that was conducted in 2006, before the introduction of the iPhone and before broadband technology was a large focus of public safety communications.
A fact sheet on the survey said it is “a nationwide data collection effort to obtain actionable and critical data that drives our nation’s emergency communication policies, programs and funding. SAFECOM will leverage the collected data to identify gaps and inform development of the program’s strategic priorities; and will assist the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Office of Emergency Communications (OEC) to execute the Nationwide Communication Baseline Assessment (NCBA).”
The assessment will help inform OEC’s work on completing an updated National Emergency Communications Plan in 2019, said Messrs. Runnels and OEC Director Ron Hewitt.
Release of the survey has faced delays. About a year ago, an OEC representative said the survey would be released on a schedule that would allow the collected data to be analyzed by this past March (TR Daily, Sept. 28, 2016).
Mr. Runnels was asked what accounted for the delays. He cited “red tape,” including PRA requirements. He said that OEC wants to make sure that release of the survey is not pushed back to November, as receiving sufficient input during the holiday season will be difficult. —Paul Kirby, email@example.com