Andy Seybold’s Public Safety Advocate, February 14, 2019

Spreading the Word.  It’s Valentine’s Day! I hope it is a good one for all of you. Last week’s Advocate drew many good comments about the lack of press coverage of FirstNet. It appears as though this lack of news stories in local media has been noticed by others and that this will be changing sooner rather than later. So, I thought perhaps I would take a crack at writing an article for local news outlets including newspapers and perhaps even as a story of interest for local TV news shows.

To write an article in a newspaper that people want to read, it must start off with a catchy headline and the first paragraph must be a real grabber to hook people so they will want to read the entire article. Then, of course, is the old adage of tell them what you are going to tell them, tell them, and then tell them what you told them. I learned the angles of newsprint journalism over the years of writing a newsletter for Forbes on Wireless Communications where I was coached by the best in the industry, and during thirty years of publishing variously titled thirty-six-page newsletters every month. However, writing for a news outlet where readers are not experienced in anything wireless besides their own cell phones and writing for an audience that is wireless-literate are completely different things. With that said, I will now take a crack at an article for a news outlet.

Public Safety Has New Partner to Fight Crime, Save Lives

We all use cell phones. We talk, text, and send pictures and videos to others with them, check the news, and stream movies. Cell phones are a way of life, delivering three or more means for conveying information to others. Meanwhile, the public safety community, using “Land Mobile Radio,” has had only voice to communicate with those in the field. Yes, they can and do use their own or agency-supplied cell phones when needed. However, during large events and major incidents, public safety had not been guaranteed access to networks congested with citizen’s calls. Read the Entire Post Here Continue reading

DHS Releases P25 CAB for 30-Day Comment Period

Project 25 Compliance Assessment Program seeks feedback on Compliance Assessment Bulletin for new program testing requirements.

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) announced the release of a Project 25 Compliance Assessment Program (P25 CAP) draft Compliance Assessment Bulletin (CAB) for review and comment. This draft CAB is available for public comment through March 14, 2019 and addresses P25 Baseline Inter-Radio Frequency Sub-System Interface (ISSI) and Console Sub-System Interface (CSSI) Conformance Testing Requirements.

This bulletin expands the P25 CAP’s testing scope to allow a more diverse set of equipment to become a part of the program.

Project 25 (P25) is a suite of standards that enables interoperability among digital two-way land mobile radio (LMR) and standardizes interfaces between the various components of the LMR systems that first responders use. P25 CAP is a voluntary program that allows communication equipment manufacturers to publicly attest to their products’ compliance through testing at DHS-recognized laboratories. All approved equipment is eligible to be purchased using federal grant funding.

After the comment period, DHS S&T will review comments, incorporate feedback, and finalize the CAB. The final CAB and adjudicated comments will be posted to the P25 CAP website. For more information, visit https://www.dhs.gov/science-and-technology/p25-cap.       

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Entities Suggest FCC Seek More Info for 911 Fee Diversion Reports

Parties have suggested that the FCC seek additional information from states for annual reports to Congress on 911 fee diversion. Several entities weighed in on 911 fee diversions in the wake of a report released by the FCC’s Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau in December that said nearly 10% of the total 911 fees collected by all 50 states, five territories, and the District of Columbia in 2017 were diverted to other purposes (TR Daily, Dec. 19, 2018).

Diversions occurred in Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, West Virginia, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, according to the report. “The total amount of 911/E911 funds diverted by all reporting jurisdictions in calendar year 2017 was $284.9 million, or approximately 9.70% of total 911/E911 fees collected,” it added. The annual report is mandated by the New and Emerging Technologies 911 Improvement Act of 2008 (NET 911 Act).

“The annual reports are helpful for providing insight into the nation’s 9-1-1 ecosystem and combatting fee diversion, but as APCO has previously commented, the Commission could make the reports more useful,” the Association of Public-Safety Officials-International said in its filing in PS docket 09-14. “For the eleventh and subsequent annual reports on 9-1-1 fee collection and expenditure, the Commission should revise the information collection questionnaire consistent with APCO’s suggestions.”

“Ending fee diversion, while essential, will not ensure ECCs [emergency communications centers] have the resources they need,” APCO also stressed. “Significant federal funding is necessary to modernize the nation’s 9-1-1 systems and could provide the additional benefit of serving as a compelling deterrent to fee diversion.”

“States need clear notice about what constitutes fee diversion in order to appropriately document and combat the practice,” APCO added. “For example, the Commission has ‘generally determined that funds used to support public safety radio systems … are not 911-related,’ but that expenditures to integrate radio systems with 9-1-1 could be 9-1-1-related where sufficient documentation is provided. While APCO agrees with this particular guidance, it may be helpful for the Commission to provide specific examples of what constitutes fee diversion in advance of future information collections, for example, by including a record of its previous determinations and descriptions of how states have demonstrated that an expenditure is ‘911-related.’”

APCO also noted that the FCC’s “annual questionnaire asks several questions related to NG9-1-1 services and expenditures. The report’s information on NG9-1-1 could be made more useful by providing a comprehensive understanding of what constitutes NG9-1-1, how states are ensuring interoperability, and the approaches being taken to achieve NG9-1-1 capabilities.”

The FCC also “should collect and report more detailed information on the ‘other’ service types for 9-1-1 calls, meaning not identified as wireline, wireless, or VoIP calls,” APCO said. “As technology evolves and provides new methods for contacting 9-1-1, these ‘other’ types of calls could have implications for public safety telecommunicators’ and callers’ experience during an emergency. For example, an upward trend in real-time text 9-1-1 calls will likely warrant technology and training changes for ECCs.”

The Colorado Public Utilities Commission said it “has no knowledge of any 911 fee diversion in Colorado. All 911 funding is local, and we are unaware of any local 911 fee diversion. However, we believe that it is important to remember that there is a division of responsibility for oversight of 911 services at the federal, state and local government levels, with overlap in some areas. For example, both the FCC and the states both have roles in overseeing network reliability, outage reporting, and outage mitigation.

“Regarding the actual handling of 911 calls by public safety telecommunicators, and how state-authorized 911 surcharge funds are spent, this is an area that is solely the responsibility of state and local governments,” the COPUC added. “Although some states have chosen to use 911 surcharge funds in a manner that, from the FCC’s perspective and role, is not consistent with their intended uses, the COPUC does not believe that this is a problem for the FCC to solve. How state governments or local governments expend 911 surcharge funds is a matter that they must resolve.

“To the extent that federal funds are to be made available for use at the state and local level, it is appropriate to only make those funds available to state and local governments that spend their funds in a manner that is consistent with the statutorily allowed use of those funds,” the COPUC added.

It also recommended that the FCC “encourage states in undertaking auditing authority of providers regarding remittance of 911 surcharges” and “[c]onsider adding the topics of state MLTS [multi-line telephone system] legislation and non-surcharge-based 911 funding to future editions of the FCC’s annual report to Congress.”

The Boulder (Colo.) Regional Emergency Telephone Service Authority (BRETSA) renewed its request for the FCC “to adopt regulations and/or develop information which will (i) make auditing of 9-1-1 fee remittances feasible for local and state authorities, (ii) identify whether there is under-remittance of 9-1-1 fees on prepaid service, and (iii) address application of 9-1-1 fee requirements to evolving technologies and markets.” Continue reading

FCC Announces 700 MHz Band Relicensing Process

The FCC’s Wireless Telecommunications Bureau released a public notice today announcing the process for relicensing 700 megahertz band spectrum in unserved areas. “We implement the Commission’s long-standing auto-termination process here, in combination with the additional filing procedures established below to address the failure of a licensee to make required filings,” the bureau said in the public notice in WT docket 06-150. “If a licensee does not file either a request for extension of time before the construction deadline or the required construction notification within 15 days after the construction deadline (as required by Section 1.946 of the Commission’s rules), we presume that the license has not been constructed or the coverage requirement has not been met.”

It also said that licensees “will be required to file an electronic coverage map that demarcates the geographic portion of the licensed area that the licensee will retain and the geographic area that will be returned to the Commission for reassignment” under the agency’s keep what you service rules. “Pursuant to the Commission’s rules, relicensing of unserved areas will occur through a two-phase application process, beginning with a 30-day Phase 1 filing window, followed by a Phase 2 rolling window for applications,” according to the public notice. “Applications for available unserved areas must be filed via ULS, and applicants must submit a shapefile describing the areas for which they seek a license.”

Courtesy TRDaily

 

NARUC Briefed on Post-Emergency Access, Re-Entry Issues

Officials from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security late yesterday briefed the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners’ committees on telecommunications and critical infrastructure on efforts to improve and standardize access and re-entry to areas that have been affected by an emergency during the group’s Winter Policy Summit this week.

George Renteria, acting chief-emergency services section at DHS’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, called the department’s Crisis Event Response and Recovery Access (CERRA) effort a “good news story” and “something that has really been a good effort out of the Department of Homeland Security.” He explained that the effort focused on how a state could manage the flow of resources for recovery when a community that experienced a natural disaster or similar situation wasn’t ready for the recovery to begin.  He said 80% of recovery assets may come from outside the community.

“Access is ensuring the right assets get in, while limiting access to nonessential personnel,” Mr. Renteria said. “To enable safe, fast, effective recovery … controlling access and reentry is critical.  The community benefits from a more managed flow of recovery efforts.”

James Byrne, executive director of CERRA, said the problem with access was that the “people who want to get and need to get in have trouble. And the people who don’t really need to get in sometimes do.” The CERRA framework, which was released in March 2018, is essentially a best practices guide, Mr. Byrne said. “It’s a document that says if you’re going to start a program, here’s where you start.”

The best way to think about the approach, he said, is that it allows a jurisdiction to establish a set of rules for who it wants to get in and then gives those entities a valid access document that means the entity has been approved by the local jurisdiction to get in. “When an event first happens, there’s people running toward and people running away. The people running toward need to be trained. And the people running away need to be facilitated,” Mr. Byrne explained.

Mr. Byrne said that several local jurisdictions had already adopted the CERRA framework, including Harris County, Texas.  The framework, which is largely based on post-Hurricane Katrina efforts in Louisiana, was most recently implemented in Virginia to handle Hurricane Michael’s impact on the state, he said.

“Ultimately this is a local jurisdiction thing,” he added. “The federal government doesn’t have jurisdiction over entry and re-entry. So this is a voluntary program.” -Carrie DeLeon, carrie.deleon@wolterskluwer.com

Courtesy TRDAily

 

Andy Seybold’s Public Safety Advocate, February 7, 2019

Sometimes it can be a real challenge to come up with a subject I think would be of interest to my readers. This week seems particularly difficult. FirstNet is humming along ahead of its required build-out for Band 14 while Verizon continues to run expensive commercials in an effort to prove to public safety that it is the best network. We all remember how Verizon throttled fire personnel and equipment during wildland fires in California but it continues its attempts to divide the public safety community between it and FirstNet. Even so, FirstNet growth in terms of new agencies added in only the last three months, it is clear that most departments understand FirstNet is the “Interoperable Public Safety Network” dedicated to first responders while other commercial carriers are simply that: commercial broadband carriers.

The FirstNet network was not thrust upon the public safety community by network operators though some were certainly supportive of the process. Rather, it was the public safety community itself that came together to walk the Halls of Congress, battle with those in the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) who did not believe public safety needed the additional spectrum known as the D Block, fight off both T-Mobile and Sprint, which at one point went as far as to put up a website to try to convince others that the spectrum should be auctioned as open to commercial networks. The public safety community, with assistance from then Vice President Joe Biden who was/is a staunch believer in public safety, fought for FirstNet from day one and it became THE public safety network.

this is not to say there are no detractors today, some of which have not become part of FirstNet and may not for a while. Several departments have balked at FirstNet (Built with AT&T) having a monthly data limit specified in its contract even though FirstNet has stated publicly that it will never throttle a public safety agency. It appears corporate AT&T requires the limit but FirstNet understands that under no circumstance can public safety be throttled, especially during an incident. This is one area that needs to be clarified so it does not keep more agencies from joining.  Read the Entire Post Here. Continue reading

DHS S&T Holds Operational Experiment in Houston

Washington, DC – More than 220 participants from 13 Houston-area public safety agencies and 20 industry partners tested first responder technology integration in a December exercise at the Port of Houston. Led by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate (S&T), the Next Generation First Responder (NGFR) – Harris County Operational Experimentation (OpEx) included the United States Coast Guard, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Office of Emergency Communications.

 The experiment integrated next generation first responder technology and safety agencies’ existing technology to assess their interoperability using guidance from the NGFR Integration Handbook.

“Our first responders face dangerous, evolving threats while often equipped with outdated and proprietary technologies that restrict their ability to communicate between agencies at the incident scene,” said Senior Official Performing the Duties of the Under Secretary for Science and Technology William N. Bryan. The December OpEx demonstrated how DHS-developed and commercial technologies integrated with existing public safety systems using open standards during a HAZMAT scenario. The OpEx also assessed how integrated capabilities enhanced operational communications, increased operational coordination, improved responder safety and augmented situational awareness.

“This was a rare and valuable opportunity for responders from different jurisdictions to get together and go through the paces of coordinating an effective, unified response to an escalating emergency,” Mr. Bryan said. “Communities rely on first responders and first responders rely on smart interoperable technologies to help them focus on their mission without distractions. Homeland security begins with hometown security and DHS S&T is working with first responders to increase community resilience and advance first responder technology.”

The experiment scenario included an offshore simulated fuel leak from ships in the port, tested technologies that included responder and patient physiological monitoring sensors, indoor location tracking, HAZMAT sensors, smart alerting for responders and incident command, advanced data analytics, and situational awareness and collaboration dashboards.

“This is the first true field test of technologies integrated through the NGFR Integration Handbook,” said OpEx Project Director, Sridhar Kowdley. “The OpEx was intended to help improve the communications pipeline between the incident command center and boots-on-the-ground responders so information can be shared to increase awareness and affect a coordinated response.”

The NGFR – Harris County OpEx builds upon NGFR’s series of integration demonstrations that test and showcase the interoperability of technologies currently in development. These demonstrations have evolved into exercises with partner public safety agencies across the U.S. and have produced materials to aid first responders and command centers to implement new technologies that address capability gaps.

The next operational experiment is scheduled for Summer 2019.

Continue reading

DHS S&T: SVIP Successfully Transitions Three Technologies to CBP

Three startups developing technologies with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) Silicon Valley Innovation Program (SVIP) successfully transitioned their products to DHS and the Homeland Security Enterprise in 2018.

These three transitions are the first to come from SVIP, a program designed to connect DHS with startups and small businesses to seek innovative solutions for the most pressing threats facing the homeland security mission and to rapidly and effectively expand the range of technologies available to the Homeland Security Enterprise. DHS S&T launched the program in December 2015.

“By engaging with small businesses and startups, S&T has gained access to the previously inaccessible, cutting-edge innovations available in the commercial market,” said William N. Bryan, Senior Official Performing the Duties of the Under Secretary of Science and Technology. “Each of the companies transitioning technologies developed innovative solutions that address real and pressing challenges faced by DHS. They have put in hard work, and S&T is proud to announce these successful transitions.”

All three companies transitioned their technologies into U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) operations. It is no coincidence that CBP was the first component to procure or integrate SVIP performer technologies—it was the first operational component to collaborate with SVIP on the development of a topic call for new technologies. SVIP closely collaborates with DHS components to develop topic calls to ensure new projects accurately address operational needs.

“CBP partnered with DHS S&T to expand our innovation ecosystem by engaging with startup companies through the Silicon Valley Innovation Program,” said CBP Commissioner Kevin McAleenan. “These successful transitions demonstrate CBP’s goal of delivering innovative and cutting-edge technologies that enhance the effectiveness of our border security operations and the safety of our frontline personnel.”

Tamr (Cambridge, Massachusetts)

Tamr was one of CBP’s “charter class” of initial companies under SVIP and was the first SVIP project to transition to CBP use.

First awarded by SVIP in December 2016, Tamr received its award to enhance the Global Traveler Assessment System (GTAS), a non-proprietary computer application available to partner countries that provide the capability to screen foreign travelers. CBP developed GTAS in accordance with UN Resolution 2178 to combat foreign terrorist fighters by using industry-regulated traveler information.  Tamr’s software allows for improved entity resolution—the analysis of multiple datasets to determine matches between entities, datasets and possible relationships—within GTAS. This technology is now fully incorporated into the system.

Tamr’s capability lives within the core GTAS application and helps users sort through data that appears to be the same, but are, in fact, different—a common challenge in the dynamic travel environment. In addition to the integrated code, Tamr also offers a free GTAS-specific license for additional functionality and a customization feature as an optional payable service. These additional offerings are available in the commercial marketplace, making Tamr the first SVIP portfolio company to commercialize their work.

Echodyne Corp. (Kirkland, Washington)

Another member of the charter class, Echodyne was first awarded by SVIP in December 2016. Echodyne Corp. created the Metamaterial Electronically Scanning Array (MESA) radar system. This system uses metamaterials—engineered, artificial materials with properties not found in nature—to build a new architecture for an all-electronic scanning radar system. The use of metamaterials means MESA has significantly lower cost, size, weight and power-usage than other radar systems.

The compact, lightweight MESA radar units have the potential for multiple applications in a variety of border security scenarios. CBP procured a pilot quantity of MESA radar units and intends to test their efficacy in two programs and evaluate them for the ability to improve border situational awareness.

In addition to this testing, Echodyne’s solution is currently being used as the primary detection and cueing component on autonomous surveillance towers currently deployed in the San Diego Sector . These towers are being piloted with the potential of incorporation into border surveillance programs.

Following additional testing, CBP has considered procuring additional radar units over the next three years. Echodyne’s work could directly support both land and maritime enforcement systems, a transition made possible through the partnership between CBP and SVIP.

DataRobot, Inc. (Boston, Massachusetts)

DataRobot was originally awarded in September of 2017 and is the youngest of the SVIP projects to transition. This year, CBP procured pilot licenses of DataRobot’s capability for the GTAS. DataRobot applied automated machine learning (AML) to GTAS to expedite the development of predictive models.

Currently, the time required to develop predictive models places those models at risk of being outdated before they are completed. By applying AML to this development process, DataRobot is able to produce models faster and more accurately. AML is also easier to use than traditional machine learning—it can automatically complete complex tasks while simplifying the user experience.

DataRobot’s technology is now being used to help CBP conduct the counter-narcotics mission, identify ways to improve the facilitation of lawful trade and travel, and develop and test synthetics datasets to further spur CBP innovation.

So What?

“These transitions are proof of the power of collaboration between DHS and startups and between SVIP and operational components like CBP,” said Melissa Oh, SVIP Managing Director. “With dozens more companies currently in the program, we can expect more transitions in 2019.”

Continue reading

California Refiles WEA Test Waiver Request

The California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services has refiled its request for a waiver to conduct an earthquake warning wireless emergency alert (WEA) test in Oakland. In a filing Friday in PS docket 15-91, Cal OES said it wants to conduct the test on March 27 with an alternative date of April 10. Last month, it asked to conduct the test on Feb. 6, but the FCC was not able to act on it because of the partial government shutdown (TR Daily, Jan. 4). In November, it withdrew an earlier waiver request due to the resources needed to tackle wildfires in the state (TR Daily, Nov. 30, 2018).

Courtesy TRDaily