Andy Seybold’s Public Safety Advocate, October 19, 2017

The Opt-In/Opt-Out Clock Is Ticking! States have until December 28, 2017, to decide to either opt in or opt out of FirstNet. There is a third option available, which is a passive opt in, meaning that if a governor does nothing by the deadline the state is considered as an opt-in state. So far, one territory (Puerto Rico) and 26 states have opted in. A number of states have issued RFPs for comparison of what FirstNet is offering and what another vendor might offer them. New Hampshire’s governor already awarded its RFP to Rivada in the event it opts out, but since then formed a committee to weigh opt-in/opt-out pros and cons (the state staff had voted to recommend opting out). Unless something changes and New Hampshire opts in, Rivada may have at least one state to build out.

Some of FirstNet’s detractors are claiming that other states should follow New Hampshire’s lead, but no one outside the state knows exactly what was proposed in the RFP responses, nor do we know if the state’s requirement of income for New Hampshire from the proceeds of the FirstNet network was addressed in writing in the RFP response. The best information I have is that a state may not profit from the proceeds of the FirstNet network except to reinvest any funds derived from secondary use of the spectrum back into the network.

I have to wonder who will have to fund any shortfall in income from the network—the vendor or the state. Our most recent review of all ten of New Hampshire’s counties shows none have sufficient numbers of first responders to fund the network and none are in need of the spectrum on a secondary basis. Thus it appears New Hampshire will face a substantial shortfall. The question of the day is if there is a shortfall, who pays for it? Read the Entire Blog Here . Continue reading

Andy Seybold’s Public Safety Advocate, October 12, 2017

The Vison Which Became FirstNet There are a number of people within the States and the Public Safety community who are not happy with the coverage which AT&T/FirstNet is offering on day one. Perhaps if they had a better understanding of the fact that the RFP could have been won by someone who would built out just the FirstNet Band 14 and that it might have had to have been built out as a greenfield (totally new) network they would better understand the difference between a network which is available today and one that might be 3-5 years away in their area.

Sometimes we need to reflect on the past and to remind those who have come to both embrace and complain about FirstNet about the original dreams and aspirations of those who have been involved in this journey, most for over 11 years and a few even longer. During the activities which resulted in Congressional Approval and President Obama signature which allocated the 10 MHz of spectrum referred to as the D block and created FirstNet, there were a lot of discussions by those involved. There was a discussion about the type of network or networks which was (were) needed. Some favored a “network of networks” that is a number of different networks, perhaps state by state or by dividing the Country into thirds but the consensus was that a single nationwide network would be the best approach and the focus shifted to that goal.

There were other discussions held by the member of the Public Safety Alliance (PSA) as well as the Public Safety Spectrum Trust (PSST) which held the license for the original 10 MHz of 700 MHz spectrum the FCC had allocated for a public safety broadband network. After FirstNet was formed some on the FirstNet board showed a diagram outlining a plan where each and every device on the FirstNet spectrum would also be able to seamlessly roam across all of the commercial broadband networks as well as the FirstNet spectrum. This, we were assured, would provide the best way to achieve a true mission critical system. As you might imagine the public safety community reacted in a negative manner and over time this idea as scraped. Next up after FirstNet regrouped was go to bid for both the one network approach and essentially a network of networks concept. Fortunately, FirstNet listened and the RFP came out calling for a single, nationwide network. Read The entire Blog Here Continue reading

PA AG, Senator Urge FCC to Let Carriers Block Calls with ‘Spoofed’ Numbers

During a hearing today before the Senate Special Committee on Aging, Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro said that he was joining Sen. Bob Casey (R., Pa.), the ranking member of the committee, in sending a letter to the FCC urging it “without further delay” to adopt and implement its proposed rules enabling telephone companies to block calls with “spoofed” originating numbers (TR Daily, March 23).

“[T]elephone companies should be able to block calls originating from ‘spoofed’ or invalid numbers, unallocated numbers, and numbers whose owners have requested be blocked. For example, phone providers would be able to block a scammer that is using a telephone number that clearly can’t exist because it hasn’t been assigned. Legitimate businesses do not need to use any of these spoofing methods to contact consumers. Allowing providers to block these calls would stymie scammers without burdening businesses,” AG Shapiro said. Continue reading

Andy Seybold’s Public Safety Advocate, September 28, 2017

When All Else Fails, There Is Ham Radio As I am preparing a report on the commercial and public safety communications activities during and after Harvey, Irma, and now Maria, which was the worst of the batch, I took some time to reach out to the amateur radio community to find out what they have been doing. The answer is a lot, and often! First, the Radio Relay International (RRI) organization made up of amateur radio operators who specialize in long-range communications has been busy handling health and welfare massages from the islands.

Meanwhile, the Red Cross, which has a relationship with the Amateur Radio Relay League (ARRL), put out a call for fifty Red Cross certified ham radio operators to travel to Puerto Rico. Tim Duffy, president of the Radio Club of America (RCA) and president of a large amateur radio supply company also played an active role. A number of hams from the United States have traveled to the islands while mainland hams have been receiving radio traffic, mostly at this point from residents who want to let their mainland family members know they are alright.

Other ham radio emergency organizations such as the Amateur Radio Emergency Services (ARES), the Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Service (RACEs) and the Military Affiliate Radio System (MARs) have all been active in the three hurricanes and in providing local communications after the storms passed. Hams man stations at Red Cross and other shelters and assist the public safety community when asked. In the case of the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico, they are serving another important function, that of notifying relatives on the mainland of island residents who are safe. This type of radio traffic is sent using shortwave radios that can communicate over long distances and can be set up and used with a simple wire-type antenna strung between two trees or buildings. Read the Entire Blog Here  Continue reading

Mission Critical Reports: NPSTC Updates Radio Programming Tool, Considers State-Centric Future Version

Dan Robinson, acting supervisor for field support services for Michigan’s Public Safety Communications System (MPSCS), offers the latest updates on the Programming and Management (PAM) Tool, which helps with the increasingly complicated job of programming two-way radios.

Read complete article here:



IEEE Spectrum Reports: Superaccurate GPS Chips Coming to Smartphones in 2018

Geolocation and situational awareness is paramount in emergencies and incident management. Today, GPS is used to provide that awareness outdoors with some success. Indoor location requires horizontal accuracy, vertical accuracy, the ability to operate in the absence of power and withstand extreme weather conditions, and ubiquity and consistency.

A new breed of global navigation satellite signals will give the next generation of smartphones 30-centimeter accuracy instead of today’s 5 meters. Even better, the chip works in a city’s concrete canyons, and it consumes half the power of today’s generation of chips.  Read article here:

Helping Responders Recognize, Report, Respond and Resolve Jamming Incidents

The Siren is a publication of the First Responders Group (FRG), Office for Interoperability and Compatibility (OIC).

When asked about the most significant piece of equipment or tool a first responder needs on a day-to-day basis, Assistant Chief of Operational Support Rodney Reed with the Fire Marshal’s Office of Harris County, Texas, answered without hesitation, “A responder’s most important tool is his or her communication device. It’s what provides the awareness we need to accomplish our mission when responding to an emergency. It is ultimately what serves as our lifeline and determines whether we make it home or not.”

First responders face a growing threat of interference caused by jamming, which can leave them without vital communications or critical situational awareness. To help combat this issue, last year, the NGFR First Responder Electronic Jamming Exercise assessed jamming vulnerabilities in responder communications systems at White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico. NGFR continued the effort this year with the 2017 First Responder Electronic Jamming Exercise (JamX 17), which focused on evaluating solutions to increase communications resiliency by helping responders recognize, respond to, report and resolve jamming incidents.

JamX 17 took place at the Idaho National Laboratory in Idaho Falls, Idaho. There, representatives from NGFR, NUSTL and S&T’s Behavioral, Economic, and Social Science Engine (BESS-E), along with agencies such as the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, U.S. Coast Guard, the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Marine Corps Warfighter Laboratory, joined nearly 300 participants from public safety agencies and technology developers from across the country. Of those participants, local first responders represented communities with nearly 24 million Americans.

Reed, who attended the 2016 exercise, was excited to come back to discover new basic mitigation strategies. “Last year’s exercise helped us to recognize that there is potential for intentional or unintentional interference on our devices. I believe it was an eye-opener for a lot of responders who attended,” Reed said. “This year, we get to learn about basic strategies that may help first responders out in the field while responding to an emergency. This information is invaluable.”

DHS S&T Acting Under Secretary William Bryan attended JamX 17 and was awed by the passion displayed by first responders and DHS participants. “For the first responders who are charged with protecting our communities, communications are a lifeline. Americans rely on first responders, and responders rely on their ability to communicate,” said Under Secretary Bryan during re-marks for the JamX 17 VIP event. “S&T is committed to ensuring that responders have the tools they need for consistent, uninterrupted communications– it’s mission critical.”

FRG and JamX 17 participants are working diligently to analyze the data and develop after action reports, as well as clear tools for DHS components and state and local public safety organizations. FRG is also working on an outreach and education campaign to expand the impact of the program from 24 million Americans to the entire country. For the men and women who work diligently to protect American lives, it is important that FRG strengthen the capability to mitigate and overcome this threat.