Andy Seybold’s Public Safety Advocate, February 22, 2018

NG9-1-1, Dispatch, and FirstNet. Let’s Start with a Happy Birthday to 9-1-1
9-1-1 celebrated its 50-year anniversary last week. Countless lives have been saved by the expediency of the 9-1-1 system and those answering the phones who take charge when needed, sometimes calming a hysterical mother or father and then walking him or her through first steps to administer aid until paramedics arrive. Every month we hear stories about how a 9-1-1 operator saved a life by instructing the caller how to do CPR compressions on the chest, to keep air flowing, or some other way to administer first aid until help arrives. While 9-1-1 services have made a huge difference in public safety responses to emergencies, many 9-1-1 centers have not been upgraded for a number of years.

From Citizen to Responder
. A few weeks ago, I wrote a column entitled, “Rural Broadband, the Headless Horseman” to make the point that not only FirstNet but a multitude of federal, state, and other agencies have their sights set on providing broadband to rural America but since there is no leadership at the top to organize all of the disparate efforts, it will take a lot longer to solve the digital divide issue than it should. This brings me to another series of services that are interrelated but seem to be moving forward without much in the way of structured management to make sure all the pieces fit together in what citizens will see as seamless experiences in receiving public safety assistance.

It starts with what happens when a citizen calls 9-1-1 and connects to a Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP) that takes and verifies as much information as possible and then passes it over to the dispatch center, which then notifies the first responder community of the type, nature, and location of the call based on the information obtained. It should be noted that sometimes the PSAP and dispatch center are one and the same, sometimes they are co-located, and sometimes they are apart from each other.

The last piece of information, location, is often the most difficult to determine because many calls come from a highway and the citizen has no clue as to exactly where he/she is. Unfortunately, our FCC’s old and now new rules for 9-1-1 location-based services won’t help the location issue much, but that is a longer and different story. Once the call is verified, it is sent to the dispatcher at the dispatch center or in some smaller PSAPs, the person answering the call becomes the dispatcher for the call. From there it is sent out to appropriate field units such as a single police car, multiple fire apparatus, a paramedic unit, or any combination of these. Read the Entire Post Here Continue reading

DHS Advisory Panel OKs Paper on Disaster Rumor Response

A white paper designed to help first responders counter rumors and misinformation circulated on social media during emergencies and disasters was approved today by the Department of Homeland Security’s Science and Technology Advisory Committee.

Bad actors sometimes use misinformation to disseminate malware or engage in financial scams, the white paper said.  “Rumors, misinformation, and false information on social media proliferates before, during, and after disasters and emergencies,” it said.  “While this information cannot be completely eliminated, first responder agencies can use various tactics and strategies in order to offset bad information.”  The paper recommends responding quickly to rumors that are spreading while monitoring those that seem contained and incorporating misinformation into training drills.

Courtesy TRDaily

FCC Warns Licensees About Use of Interoperability Channels

The Policy and Licensing Division of the FCC’s Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau advised licensees today that non-interoperability use of interoperability channels is permitted at most only on a secondary basis.

The division issued a letter providing guidance to Wynn Brannin, the statewide emergency coordinator and statewide interoperability coordinator for New Mexico, in response to his request. It also sent a letter to Franklin Square & Munson Fire District in New York saying that the agency has learned that the district is using the 453.4625 megahertz frequency “for internal, routine, day-to-day operations” in violation of FCC rules. The district “must discontinue operation of this frequency if the channel is needed for interoperability,” it said.

In the letter to Mr. Brannin, the division confirmed “that the interoperability and mutual aid channels are primarily for interoperable emergency communications between different public safety licensees. Day-to-day communications are permitted only on a secondary basis on the VHF and UHF interoperability channels and are prohibited on the 800 MHz interoperability channels. Continue reading

CDT, EFF Express Concerns About Contraband Cellphone Proposals

The Center for Democracy & Technology and the Electronic Frontier Foundation say they are concerned about proposals being considered to tackle contraband cellphones in correctional facilities.

“We share the interest of the Commission in protecting the welfare of facility administrators, law enforcement authorities, and the general public. However, mandates for hard kill switches and proprietary technology will create new security vulnerabilities, and the lack of judicial review within the kill switch process will violate established protections for due process,” the groups said in an ex parte filing yesterday in GN docket 13-111. “With this in mind, CDT and EFF respectfully request that the Commission reconsider the following proposals.”

“First, the proposed mandate for a hard kill switch for wireless devices will create new security risks for the general public,” the groups said. “The proposal will force service providers and manufacturers to create a vulnerability in all wireless devices to allow providers to permanently disable a device if it is being used illicitly in a correctional facility. But this vulnerability will not exist in a vacuum, and it will be difficult to secure. As a result, malicious actors may be able to hijack or create their own hard kill signal for their own purposes, regardless of where the phone is being used. Continue reading

O’Rielly Presses States, Territories on Missing 911 Data

FCC Commissioner Mike O’Rielly today asked four states and three territories to explain why they did not respond to the FCC’s most recent effort to gather data about 911 deployment, including diversions of 911 fees and surcharges.

In a letter to the governors of New York, Oklahoma, Missouri, Montana, Puerto Rico, the Northern Mariana Islands, and Guam, Mr. O’Rielly said, “Inexplicably, in many instances, officials under your leadership failed to respond to our last request for such information. At the very least, given the importance of this information, you should have been aware of the impending failure to respond. This suggests that addressing your 9-1-1 system or NG 9-1-1 capabilities is not as high of a priority for your state or territory as it should be. It is beyond disappointing, as it is hard to imagine what could be more important to the lives and well-being of your residents than a well-functioning 9-1-1 system.” Continue reading

NPR Discusses the Pros and Cons of Phones in School

Should The Parkland Shooting Change How We Think About Phones, Schools and Safety?

“While Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School was on lockdown, with an active shooter in the building, students were on their phones. They were tweeting. … They were calling their parents to let them know they were safe and texting classmates to find out if they had survived.”

NPR discusses the pros and cons of phones in school. “…do smartphones in students’ hands really make schools safer? Or do they just make them feel safer? And could there be a cost to that feeling?” Read complete article here:

Andy Seybold’s Public Safety Advocate, February 15, 2018

Networks with a Purpose. Fixed and wireless networks are all built for a purpose. This might be for a single purpose such as Land Mobile Radio (LMR) public safety systems or it might be for a broader purpose such as cellular networks built to serve a company’s customers be they individuals, businesses, machine-to-machine (Internet of Things, IoT), and other uses. The design of the network, the coverage it provides, and the services enabled to run over the network will differ. Some wireless networks are used to communicate from one continent to another, satellite networks are designed to deliver specific content from one location to another, usually remote locations, and satellite systems for voice and slow-speed data enable people in unpopulated areas, on oil rigs in the gulf, or on ships to communicate via dial-up telephony among other purposes.

This week’s Advocate is about several types of purpose-built networks including Land Mobile Radio (LMR), commercial broadband wireless networks, and the new FirstNet hybrid commercial/public safety system. All three of these networks are currently being used by the public safety community. The LMR systems are purpose-built to cover a specific geographic area such as a city, county, region, and more and more, an entire state. These networks are designed, planned, and built to carry primarily Push-To-Talk (PTT) audio for the public safety community from the dispatch center to the field, from unit to unit, and from group to group. While some LMR networks do handle data, especially compared to wireless broadband, they are very slow and not capable of much more than text services. Read the Entire Post Here

Discovery Patterns Weekly News Recap Follows:

AT&T: Promises Rural Areas to Be Priority in FirstNet Buildout, 4 Traders Feb 14 18:50, Read More

Rural deployment will not be an afterthought to urban deployment during the buildout of the First Responder Network Authority , AT&T, FirstNet and state officials said during a webinar hosted by… Continue reading

FCC Official Pleased with Indoor Location Accuracy Technologies

An FCC official said today he is pleased with the development of technologies to deliver indoor 911 location accuracy. In remarks this morning at the National Emergency Number Association’s 911 Goes to Washington event, David Furth, deputy chief of the FCC’s Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau, noted that at a 911 technology showcase he attended on Capitol Hill yesterday, he saw “how quickly technology is pushing the envelope on this.”

He noted that rules the FCC adopted in 2015 (TR Daily, Jan. 29, 2015) set a “floor” for the delivery of indoor 911 location accuracy.

“The technology is actually getting us closer to the ceiling a lot faster, which is great,” Mr. Furth said.

In the 2015 order, the FCC, among other things, established thresholds that carriers must meet to provide dispatchable location or 50-meter horizontal accuracy. By 2020, the threshold is 70% for national carriers and by 2021 it’s 80%. Mr. Furth said some technology already is capable of reaching the 70% mark and is moving to the 80% threshold.

On another area, Mr. Furth also noted the increase in public safety answering points (PSAPs) that are now capable of receiving texts.“It’s an improving picture, but it still is a glass half full, or maybe one third full, two-thirds empty, because we still have a lot of areas where text-to-911 is not available,” he said. Continue reading

Stakeholders Cite 911 Successes, Challenges

FCC officials, members of Congress, public safety and industry representatives, and others today cited the successes of the 911 system as well as the challenges still ahead.

Stakeholders welcomed today’s 50th anniversary of the first 911 call on the same day that President Trump signed the Kari’s Law Act of 2017 (HR 582), which Congress passed last week (TR Daily, Feb. 9). The bill requires multi-line telephone systems to be configured so users can dial 911 without dialing any other numbers. “I am thrilled that Kari’s Law has now become the law of the land.  An access code should not stand between people who call 911 in need of help and emergency responders who can provide assistance,” FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said.

“As we recognize the 50th anniversary of the first 9-1-1 call, we applaud President Trump for signing into law this important step to improve our nation’s public safety communications,” said Reps. Greg Walden (R., Ore.) and Marsha Blackburn (R., Tenn.), the respective chairmen of the House Energy and Commerce Committee and its communications and technology subcommittee. “In the heat of a crisis, Kari’s Law ensures that dialing 9-1-1 means your call will go through, no matter what kind of phone you’re using.”

“Verizon is proud to have strongly supported this very important piece of legislation,” said Robert Fisher, Verizon Communications, Inc.’s senior vice-president-federal government relations.  “Children starting in pre-school are taught that when there’s an emergency, they should dial 911.  There should be no barriers to making that connection.”  Verizon said “all of the company’s internal systems in its wire line footprint have been reconfigured to meet this new, 911 direct dial obligation.” Continue reading