New NIST Security Guidance Addresses Internet of Things

The National Institute of Standards and Technology has issued an update to a widely-used security and privacy guidebook that includes new sections applicable to the security of Internet of things devices.  “We are crafting the next-generation catalog of controls that can also be applied to secure the Internet of things,” said Ron Ross, a NIST fellow and leader of the task force that wrote the revisions to Special Publication (SP) 800-53, “Security and Privacy Controls for Information Systems and Organizations.”  Comments on the revisions are due Sept. 12.

Courtesy TRDaily

Standards Called Crucial for FirstNet Apps

DENVER – The development of standards is crucial for public safety data and applications, Mark Golaszewski, director-applications for the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet), said during a session this morning at the APCO 2017 show here. “We’ve got a long road to hoe in terms of standards,” Mr. Golaszewski said, and he stressed that standards will help drive the economies of scale.

As an example of the need for standards for the sharing of public safety data, he said that public safety agencies should rethink mutual aid agreements to include what data and applications will be shared and now just voice channels.

“There are no requirements for public safety to adopt FirstNet,” Mr. Golaszewski noted. “Therefore, it’s vital that we create innovative apps and solutions that provide compelling value propositions.” During the session, current and former public safety officials discussed the benefits of public safety apps to first responders.

Jeff Carl, director engineering and operations for AT&T FirstNet, highlighted the public safety app development program planned for FirstNet. He said that the carrier, which is FirstNet’s network partner, wants to leverage work already done in the apps world “instead of reinventing the wheel.” He noted that AT&T has a network of 40,000 apps developers, and that there has been interest in developing public safety apps.

Neil Miller, the sheriff of Buffalo County, Neb., said mobile connectivity and apps have allowed his officers to stay in the field to work on reports and other matters and not return to the office.  “They turn their car into kind of like their mobile office,” he said. —Paul Kirby,

NTIA Officials Eye Awarding SLIGP Funds in Version 2.0

DENVER – The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) hopes a notice of funding opportunity will be released next month for version 2.0 of the State and Local Implementation Grant Program (SLIGP). During a session this afternoon at the APCO 2017 here, Marsha MacBride, NTIA’s associate administrator-Office of Public Safety Communications, said that the funds will come from money returned by states from the first version of the program.

The 2.0 funds can be used for planning by states after they make decisions on whether to opt in or opt out of the FirstNet system, Ms. MacBride said. The current grant program expires in February, so NTIA wants to have the new program up in March, she said. The new funds can be spent between March 1, 2018, and Feb. 29, 2020. NTIA is getting Commerce approval for the grant guidance.

During the session, Carolynn Dunn, director of the State Alternative Plan Program (SAPP) at NTIA, stressed the threshold that states must meet if they want to deploy their own radio access network (RAN) and opt out of having AT&T, Inc., the First Responder Network Authority’s (FirstNet) network partner, build it. Continue reading

AT&T Executive Says He’s Not Surprised by Verizon Announcement

DENVER – An AT&T, Inc., executive said today that he is not surprised by Verizon Communications, Inc.’s announcement that it plans to offer priority service and preemption to public safety customers while building a dedicated public safety core (TR Daily, Aug. 15). He also said that first responders will benefit from AT&T’s plan to use a variety of bands to best meet their needs and not just Band 14. In an interview this morning with TR Daily in conjunction with the APCO 2017 show here, Chris Sambar, AT&T’s senior vice president-FirstNet, was asked if he expects states to try to get better pricing, coverage, and other terms from AT&T, which is the First Responder Network Authority’s (FirstNet) network partner, in light of the new competition from Verizon, which is seeking to match AT&T’s plan to offer priority access to opt-in states immediately and preemption by the end of this year while deploying a public safety core next year.

“I think regardless … of what Verizon announced, states are going to try and get good deals for themselves,” Mr. Sambar said. “That’s just human nature. So that’s not unexpected. And the fact that Verizon is going to be aggressive and try and keep their customers … is also not a surprise to us.”

But he added that some people “are probably a still little unclear as to what exactly they are going to be providing. I think we’ve been extremely clear on what we’re providing because it’s all contract-based.”

Mr. Sambar also responded to questions about AT&T’s plan for Band 14 in the wake of complaints from some in the public safety community and elsewhere that first responders did not fight for that band to be reallocated for public safety use only to have a commercial carrier decide to deploy it selectively. Continue reading

Public Safety Community Generally Positive About Verizon Service

DENVER – Current and former state and other public safety officials, consultants, and others said today they are generally pleased with Verizon Communications, Inc.’s announcement that it plans to offer priority service and preemption to public safety customers while building a dedicated public safety core (TR Daily, Aug. 15). However, concerns about interoperability and other issues were raised.

“I am excited to see the announcement from Verizon,” said Red Grasso, the First Responder Network Authority single point of contact (SPOC) for North Carolina and deputy director of FirstNetNC in the North Carolina Department of Information Technology. “I think the FirstNet effort has been a tremendous catalyst for bringing Public Safety to the forefront of the wireless broadband industry. Competition for public safety customers is a win for the community. I feel that conversations about the Governors’ decision to Opt-In/Opt-Out should be separate from conversations around adoption of the FirstNet service since there is no mandate to use the network.”

Mr. Grasso added, “Regardless of the Opt-In/Opt-Out decision, the Public Safety community in every state should expect offerings from all of the major carriers who want to compete. This is why it is so important that interoperability discussions remain network neutral. This is why the public safety applications should remain network neutral and multi-platform.”  Continue reading

Verizon: Law Enforcement Demands for “Cell Tower Dumps” Still Rising

The number of “cell tower dumps” requested by law enforcement authorities continued to rise in Verizon’s semiannual “transparency report” even as other forms of law enforcement surveillance held steady. Verizon received approximately 8,870 warrants or court orders for cell tower dumps in the first half of 2017, compared with 6,000 for the first half of 2016, Verizon said in a first-half transparency report released yesterday.

Cell tower dumps enable law enforcement authorities to identify the phone numbers of all devices that connected to a specific cell tower at a particular time.  For all of 2016, Verizon said it received 14,630 warrants or orders for cell tower dumps; in 2013 the number was 3,200.  “This tool is being used much more frequently by law enforcement,” the Verizon report said.

The number of law enforcement requests received by Verizon for other forms of surveillance was largely unchanged in the first half of 2017 compared with other six-month periods.  The company received 68,237 subpoenas seeking customer data during the period covered by the latest report, versus 67,433 for the first half of 2016. Continue reading

Trump Aims to Cut Environmental Reviews for Infrastructure Projects for Two Years

President Trump signed an executive order today requiring federal agencies to engage in early and open coordination with other federal, state, local, and tribal agencies on environmental reviews for infrastructure projects, including broadband Internet infrastructure projects. The executive order also directs the Office of Management and Budget within 180 days to establish a Cross-Agency Priority (CAP) Goal on Infrastructure Permitting Modernization so that reviews for new major infrastructure projects can be completed on average within approximately two years, where permitted by law.

“According to a 2014 Government Accountability Office (GAO) report, it takes 7 years on average for a complex highway project to go through the entire environmental review process,” the White House said in a fact sheet.

The executive order directs federal agencies to modify their strategic plans and annual performance plans to “to include agency performance goals related to the completion of environmental reviews and authorizations for infrastructure projects consistent with the new CAP Goal on Infrastructure Permitting Modernization.”

The executive order also aims to make agencies accountable for meeting these goals by requiring them to track their permitting processes for each major infrastructure project. Each project will have a single lead agency responsible for navigating the environmental review process and issuing a permitting decision. —Lynn Stanton,

Courtesy TRDaily

FCC Official Commends APCO, NENA for Discussions on NG-911 Issues

DENVER — An FCC official today commended the Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials-International and the National Emergency Number Association for their recent announcement that they are working on next-generation 911 (NG-911) issues. “This is a welcome development,” David Furth, deputy chief of the FCC’s Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau, said this afternoon during a business meeting at the APCO 2017 show here. “No single agency or organization can have the impact alone that [two] can have working together.” He said that many “important 911 breakthroughs” have occurred as a result of the two groups working together, including on enhanced 911 Phase II, text to 911, and indoor 911 location accuracy.

Earlier this month, APCO and NENA released a joint statement (TR Daily, Aug. 4) that said top leaders of the groups had met recently and reached a consensus “for the need for all Next Generation 9-1-1 technologies to be both interoperable and interconnected including equipment currently described as NENA I3 ‘compliant’. The two associations also discussed and agreed on the need for federal funding to enable state and local governments to transition to Next Generation technologies as well as the need for consistent and transparent messaging concerning the current state of Next Generation 9-1-1 equipment offerings. It is anticipated that future joint communications concerning these topics will be forthcoming in the next 30 to 60 days.”  Continue reading

OEC Hopes Communications Survey Will Be Released Next Month

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. Continue reading

Bratcher Cites Benefits of Public Safety Being Able to Access All AT&T LTE Bands

DENVER – First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) Chief Technology Officer Doug Bratcher today touted the benefit of first responders in opt-in states being able to access more than 100 megahertz of spectrum on AT&T, Inc.’s LTE network, rather than just the 20 MHz of Band 14 spectrum licensed to FirstNet. AT&T, FirstNet’s network partner, says that public safety agencies in opt-in states that sign up for service can immediately access all of the carrier’s LTE bands, with priority service right away and preemption by the end of this year.

“We’ve heard loud and clear from public safety: they don’t care about what band … they’re on. They just want the network to work when they need it,” Mr. Bratcher said during a session this morning at the APCO 2017 show here.

In response to a question about any technical tradeoffs of public safety using Band 14 or other AT&T LTE spectrum, Mr. Bratcher replied, “The methodology that we’re driving with AT&T is that low-band spectrum – that 700 MHz spectrum or 800 [MHz spectrum] – is always used or driven in those areas. They’re adding Band 14 in those to drive some of the capacity needs. But, again, with the priority/preemption on all the LTE bands that AT&T has today, the need on that Band 14 push is not as great as it was before we announced our partnership with AT&T.” Continue reading