Public Safety Entities Pleased with Changes to WEA Item

The Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials-International and Harris County, Texas said today that they are pleased with changes the FCC made to a wireless emergency alert (WEA) item before it was adopted yesterday (TR Daily, Jan. 30). “Upon reviewing the text of the Order, APCO is pleased to see that the Commission incorporated many of the recommendations made by the public safety stakeholders in this proceeding,” said APCO Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer Derek Poarch.

“Public safety officials in Harris County are pleased that the FCC has ruled in favor of the geographic targeting enhancements and the adjustments that developed through the process. We look forward to working with wireless carriers and technology experts to implement the new rules in a timely manner,” said Francisco Sanchez, deputy emergency management coordinator at the Harris County Office of Homeland Security & Emergency Management.

APCO, Harris County, and other public safety entities had asked the FCC to clarify the new rules to, among others things, make it harder for participating WEA carriers to avoid implementing the more precise geo-targeting requirement. Continue reading

FirstNet Witness Responses to Lawmaker Questions Posted

Responses from witnesses to follow-up questions from lawmakers in the wake of a Nov. 1 House hearing on the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) (TR Daily, Nov. 1, 2017) have finally been released, but an open government advocate noted the information comes too late to inform decisions by states and territories about whether to opt out of FirstNet. All 50 states, five territories, and the District of Columbia have opted in.

Stephen Whitaker, a Vermont resident and plaintiff in a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit seeking FirstNet records, complained about “legislative dysfunction, evasive non-answers and waiting until the answers are ‘no longer germane,’ to quote [FirstNet Chief Executive Officer Mike] Poth, due to their not having been answered when due and while they might have impacted the opt-in/opt-out decisions.”

The House communications and technology subcommittee sent the follow-up questions to witnesses on Nov. 20 and asked for responses by Dec. 6. The responses were not posted until Monday night.

The responses of Chris Sambar, AT&T’s senior vice president-FirstNet, are dated Dec. 6. The responses of John Stevens, the statewide interoperability coordinator and FirstNet state point of contact (SPOC) for New Hampshire, are dated Dec. 4. The responses or Robert LeGrande II, founder of the Digital Divide LLC, are dated Dec. 18.

A committee spokesperson said that FirstNet’s response was received on Monday. “FirstNet has a lengthy review process that contributed to the delay in response,” the spokesperson said. “The process involves a number of government entities and interagency comments, including the Commerce Department, OMB, NOAA, NIST, and NTIA – which did not have a confirmed administrator until after the hearing.” Continue reading

National Council on UAS Announce Plan for PS to Fly UAS in National Capital Region

Today, Charles Werner, Chair National Council on UAS/Virginia Aviation Advisor, and Eddie Reyes, Police Foundation, along with FAA’s Carol Might and Gary Miller announced a plan that will allow public safety to fly unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) in the restricted airspace in the National Capital Region (NCR).  Until today, the possibility for public safety to utilize UAS and take advantage of the many demonstrated benefits was extremely restricted in the NCR.  DHS representative Andrew MacDonald also outlined a proposal to implement an unmanned traffic management (UTM) system along with UAS for public safety equipped with sensors for quick identification and secure operations.

Today’s meeting was organized to inform members of the Metro Washington Council of Governments (MWCOG – 24 localities, DC, MD & VA), identify the various federal partners and begin a collaboration process that will enable safe and secure use of UAS in the NCR. Over the past year, unmanned aircraft systems have repeatedly demonstrated their ability to save lives, enhance public safety operations and increase responder safety.

Chief Charles Werner stated, “I am extremely appreciative for the support received from the dedicated men and women of the FAA who have provided the opportunity for public safety to fly UAS in the NCR as well as for their phenomenal support during Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria. It is important to also acknowledge DHS Science & Technology for their leadership along with our other federal partner agencies and the Department of Defense for their support to move this initiative forward.”   Eddie Reyes stated, “Given my long history with the MWCOG, it made perfect sense to collaborate with the trusted authority in the NCR by all federal, state and municipal government agencies.  It’s a new day for sUAS in the NCR, both for first responders and for the public’s safety”.

FCC’s Daily Digest: FCC Bolsters Effectiveness of Wireless Emergency Alerts through Improving Geographic Targeting of Alerts

Summary News Release: FCC BOLSTERS EFFECTIVENESS OF WIRELESS EMERGENCY ALERTS ACTION WILL IMPROVE GEOGRAPHIC TARGETING OF ALERTS.  News Release. (Dkt No 15-94 15-91 ). Adopted:  01/30/2018. News Media Contact: Rochelle Cohen at (202) 418-1162, email: Rochelle.Cohen@fcc.gov  PSHSB

https://apps.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/DOC-348932A1.pdf

Full Text of FCC Decision: WIRELESS EMERGENCY ALERTS; AMENDMENTS TO PART 11 OF THE COMMISSION’S RULES REGARDING THE EMERGENCY ALERT SYSTEM.   The FCC adopted rules to enhance the effectiveness of Wireless Emergency Alerts, including improving geographic targeting. (Dkt No.  15-94 15-91 ). Action by:  the Commission. Adopted:  01/30/2018 by R&O. (FCC No. 18-4).  PSHSB

https://apps.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/FCC-18-4A1.pdf

 

FCC, Hawaii Issue Reports on False Alert

FCC Commissioners stressed today the importance of preventing false alerts like the ballistic missile alert sent in error in Hawaii earlier this month (TR Daily, Jan. 16), saying that the incident there should lead to best practices that can be used by alert originators and other stakeholders. Their comments came as FCC staff reported that the alert was sent in error due to a misunderstanding about whether there was actually a ballistic missile attack.

Meanwhile, Hawaii officials released a report today that concluded that “insufficient management controls, poor computer software design, and human factors” contributed to the false alert and the delayed response in correcting it. The report echoed conclusions in a preliminary report released today by the FCC’s Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau.

At today’s monthly FCC meeting, Commissioners received the preliminary report from the Public Safety Bureau on its investigation of the early-morning false alert, which was transmitted through the Emergency Alert System (EAS) and wireless emergency alerts (WEAs). The alert was transmitted shortly after 8 a.m. on Jan. 13 and it took officials 38 minutes to send out a corrected alert. The information provided by the bureau today was the most detailed yet from the FCC about the incident. The bureau stressed that its investigation is ongoing.

James Wiley, an attorney-adviser in the Public Safety Bureau’s Cybersecurity and Communications Reliability Division, explained how the false alert was sent during a ballistic missile alert drill that took place during a change from the midnight to the day shifts at the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency (HI-EMA). Due to a “miscommunication,” “the day shift supervisor was not in the proper location to supervise the day shift warning officers when the ballistic missile defense drill was initiated,” he said.

“At 8:05 a.m., the midnight shift supervisor initiated the drill by placing a call to the day shift warning officers, pretending to be U.S. Pacific Command,” according to Mr. Wiley. “The supervisor played a recorded message over the phone. The recording began by saying ‘exercise, exercise, exercise,’ language that is consistent with the beginning of the script for the drill. After that, however, the recording did not follow the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency’s standard operating procedures for this drill. Instead, the recording included language scripted for use in an Emergency Alert System message for an actual live ballistic missile alert. It thus included the sentence ‘this is not a drill.’ The recording ended by saying again, ‘exercise, exercise, exercise.’ Three on-duty warning officers in the agency’s watch center received this message, simulating a call from U.S. Pacific Command on speakerphone.

“According to a written statement from the day shift warning officer who initiated the alert, as relayed to the Bureau by the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency, the day shift warning officer heard ‘this is not a drill’ but did not hear ‘exercise, exercise, exercise.’ According to the written statement, this day shift warning officer therefore believed that the missile threat was real. At 8:07 a.m., this officer responded by transmitting a live incoming ballistic missile alert to the State of Hawaii. … Other warning officers who heard the recording in the watch center report that they knew that the erroneous incoming message did not indicate a real missile threat, but was supposed to indicate the beginning of an exercise.” Continue reading

Texas, Kansas Agencies Subscribe to FirstNet

Public safety agencies in Texas and Kansas announced this week that they are subscribing to the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) system being built by AT&T, Inc. “It’s absolutely thrilling to have a dedicated public safety broadband network,” said Brazos County, Texas, Sheriff Chris Kirk, whose office has signed up for FirstNet. “We’re still doing the same job. But with FirstNet, we can do it even better and faster than before. We have all the information we need at our fingertips, backed by the connectivity needed to access it. And most importantly, it keeps our deputies out in the neighborhoods, so we can spend more time serving Brazos County.”

The Brazos County Sheriff’s Office is the first local agency in Texas to subscribe to FirstNet, but it says it has been using public safety broadband through its collaboration with Harris County, which is a FirstNet early builder.

In Kansas, the Kansas Highway Patrol is the first public safety agency in that state to become a FirstNet subscriber. “We’re proud to be the state’s anchor tenant for this cutting-edge public safety broadband network,” said Kansas Highway Patrol Col. Mark Bruce. “FirstNet is truly transformational. We’re just beginning to unleash its potential, but we believe it’s a promising solution that will help us do our jobs better and faster — while staying safer.”

All 50 states, five territories, and the District of Columbia have opted into FirstNet (TR Daily, Jan. 19), but agencies are under no obligation to actually subscribe to AT&T for service. —Paul Kirby, paul.kirby@wolterskluwer.com

Courtesy TRDaily

Analysis: Unlicensed Devices Can Coexist in 6 GHz Band

Unlicensed devices can share the 6 gigahertz band without causing harmful interference to primary incumbent operations, according to an analysis submitted to the FCC by 10 companies that want the FCC to approve such sharing. The “findings are clear: unlicensed devices can successfully coexist with the primary services present in the 6 GHz band,” said an ex parte filing in GN docket 17-183 reporting on meetings that representatives of the companies had yesterday with FCC Chairman Ajit Pai; Commissioners Jessica Rosenworcel, Mike O’Rielly, and Brendan Carr; and Louis Peraertz, a senior legal adviser to Commissioner Mignon L. Clyburn.

“New RKF Engineering report answers many technical interference issues re: unlicensed use in 6 GHz band,” Mr. O’Rielly tweeted yesterday. “Certainly work ahead but this needs to be a Summer @FCC NPRM!”

The analysis was done by RKF Engineering Services LLC and submitted to the Commission by Apple, Inc., Broadcom Corp., Cisco Systems, Inc., Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Facebook, Inc., Google LLC, Intel Corp., MediaTek, Inc., Microsoft Corp., and Qualcomm, Inc.

Last year, the FCC adopted a notice of inquiry to explore freeing up frequencies between 3.7 GHz and 24 GHz for 5G services (TR Daily, Aug. 3, 2017). Continue reading