Andy Seybold’s Public Safety Advocate, December 6, 2018

Looking Back and Looking Forward.  As we enter the 21st month of the 25-year contract between FirstNet the Authority and FirstNet (Built with AT&T), the last three of this year’s Public Safety Advocates will examine what has already transpired and what may lie ahead for FirstNet in 2019. As you read these three Advocates, keep in mind that had the contract been awarded to a vendor that was focused simply on building out Band 14 (the public safety spectrum), this vendor would only have been required to have 60-percent of the network built out in metro areas at this point in time.

Instead, the RFP winner, AT&T, offered up all of its existing LTE spectrum plus Band 14. This had a significant impact on public safety communications. First, today, only 21 months into the contract, FirstNet (Built with AT&T) is providing far more than 60-percent coverage in metro areas with full priority access including pre-emption where and when needed. Further, AT&T has stated that as it continues to build out its own LTE network, the FirstNet network will also have access and when it starts building out its 5G system, FirstNet will be part of that, too.

The questions I will ask and try to answer are about Push-To-Talk (PTT), both on- and off-network, coverage that still needs to be completed in metro, suburban, and rural areas, and finally what lies ahead for 2019.

All this will be weighed against goals that created FirstNet: To have a Nationwide Public Safety Broadband Network (NPSBN) for public safety’s use including full pre-emption. We have not yet reached this goal but it is still in early in the development of the network. Some believe we can come close to achieving this goal but there will be some agencies that do not join FirstNet, at least in the next few years. I have to believe that as these agencies recognize the advantages of fully interoperable communications for the first time in the history of public safety communications, they will join in and this goal will eventually be realized.  Read the Entire Post here. Continue reading

FCC Grants WEA Waiver to Virginia

The FCC’s Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau today granted a waiver in PS dockets 15-91 and 15-94 to the Virginia Department of Emergency Management to conduct wireless emergency alert (WEA) tests on Dec. 12 for the Surry Nuclear Power Station and Feb. 20, 2019, for the North Anna Nuclear Power Station (TR Daily Nov. 30).

Courtesy TRDaily

FCC to Consider High-Cost, Spectrum, Robocall, Texting Items Dec. 12

The FCC at its Dec. 12 meeting plans to consider items to provide additional high-cost support funding for rate of return (RoR) carriers while encouraging them to deploy faster broadband service and to establish an incentive auction format for allocating licenses next year in the agency’s spectrum frontiers proceeding.

The FCC also plans to vote on items addressing robocalling, the regulatory status of texting, a consolidated communications marketplace report mandated by Congress earlier this year, the agency’s quadrennial review of its media ownership rules, and rules governing the display of broadcast licenses.

The meeting is scheduled to begin at 10:30 a.m.

“Because of the closure of the federal government for a National Day of Mourning for President George H.W. Bush on Wednesday, December 5, the Commission has determined that it is in the public interest to delay the onset of the sunshine period prohibition contained in Section 1.1203 of the Commission’s rules, 47 C.F.R. § 1.1203,” according to the “sunshine” notice, which was released one day early today because of the FCC’s closure tomorrow. “Accordingly, consistent with Section 1.1200(a) of the Commission’s rules, 47 C.F.R. § 1.1200(a), the Commission has modified its rules so that the sunshine period prohibition will begin at 11:59 PM on Thursday, December 6, rather than at 11:59 PM on Wednesday, December 5.”

The text of the Connect America Fund (CAF) draft report and order, further notice of proposed rulemaking (FNPRM), and order on reconsideration in WC dockets 10-90, 14-58 and 07-135 and CC docket 01-92 is aimed at addressing “the challenges that rate-of-return carriers face by taking steps to promote broadband deployment, ensure the efficient use of resources, and provide sufficient and predictable support necessary to increase broadband deployment.” Continue reading

NIST Eyes Cybersecurity of Public Safety Devices

The National Institute of Standards and Technology today published a draft report to explore ways to ensure the cybersecurity of the smartphones, tablets, and wearables that public safety officials are increasingly using on the job.

“Public safety practitioners utilizing the forthcoming nationwide public safety broadband network (NPSBN) will have smartphones, tablets, and wearables at their disposal.  Although these devices should enable first responders to complete their missions, any influx of new technologies will introduce new security vulnerabilities,” NIST said.

“The overarching goal of this work is to identify security objectives for public safety mobile and wearable devices, enabling jurisdictions to more easily select and purchase secure devices and device manufacturers to design and develop them,” NIST added.

The report noted that public safety workers often use and transmit more sensitive information, such as medical data, than the typical commercial user.  NIST set a Jan. 7, 2019, deadline for comments on the draft report. — Tom Leithauser, tom.leithauser@wolterskluwer.com

Courtesy TRDaily

Colorado Authority Seeks Reconsideration of Interoperability Order

The Boulder, Colo., Regional Emergency Telephone Service Authority (BRETSA) has filed a petition for reconsideration of an order (TR Daily, Oct. 23) released by the FCC’s Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau in October that dismissed as premature a request by the Colorado Public Safety Broadband Governing Body (CPSBGB) asking that the Commission clarify guidelines and requirements concerning interoperability and roaming between the nationwide public safety broadband network being built by AT&T, Inc., for the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) and wireless carriers (TR Daily, July 9).

The order adopted Oct. 23 in PS dockets 16-269, 12-94, and 06-229, and WT docket 06-150 noted that the Colorado Governor’s Office of Information Technology subsequently asked the FCC not to take any action at this time on the CPSBGB’s filing (TR Daily, July 16). “In light of our dismissal of the Request, we also find the filings by other parties supporting the Request to be moot,” the order said. “If other parties have concerns that they believe warrant Commission action, they may petition accordingly.” Continue reading

S&T Demonstrates Tech During Hazmat Scenario

Houston, TX – The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) is presenting a demonstration of integrating emergency response technologies during a simulated HAZMAT scenario at the Port of Houston on December 5, 2018. The Next Generation First Responder (NGFR) – Harris County Operational Experimentation (OpEx) will involve a coordinated response by Houston public safety agencies, FEMA, the U.S. Coast Guard and industry partners.

Over the past year, DHS S&T partnered with Houston-area public safety agencies, the U.S. Coast Guard, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), and the DHS Office of Emergency Communications to identify technical capabilities that could assist first responders at the scene of an emergency. Situational awareness, responder physiological and patient monitoring, personnel location tracking, and enhanced communications were identified as priority concerns. The OpEx will evaluate how DHS-developed commercial and existing first responder technologies integrate during an emergency to fill these gaps while using open standards.

WHO:             Sponsor
DHS S&T Next Generation First Responder Program

                         Host
Public Safety Agency Partners

                         Public Safety Agency Partners
United States Coast Guard
                         Federal Emergency Management Agency
                         DHS Emergency Communications Division
                         Harris County Fire Marshal’s Office
                         Harris County Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management
                         Harris County Sheriff’s Office
                         Harris County Central Technology Services
                         Harris County Community Emergency Response Team
                         Houston Fire Department
                         Houston Police Department
                         Houston Information Technology Services-
                         Cy-Fair Volunteer Fire Department
                         Atascocita Fire Department
                         SouthEast Texas Regional Advisory Council

                        Technology Partners
 ARES Security Corporation
                        AT&T Corporation
                        Centrex Solutions LLC
                        FEMA Integration Public Alert and Warning System Office
                        Haystax, a Fishtech Group Company
                        Integrated Solutions for Systems, Inc. (IS4S)
                        Intrepid Networks, LLC.
                        Keys Net LLC.
                        Luna Innovations, Inc.
                        Metronome Software, LLC
                        MobileIron Inc.
                        National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Jet Propulsion Laboratory
                        N5 Sensors, Inc.
                        Pacific Northwest National Laboratory
                        SensorUp, Inc.
                        Sonim Technologies, Inc.
                        TRX Systems, Inc.
                        Utility Associates Inc.

WHAT:           Media availability and demonstration of the NGFR – Harris County OpEx

WHEN:          1:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. CST, Wednesday, December 5, 2018

WHERE:        1:00 p.m. – Remarks
                        Port Coordination Center (follow signs for Police Station)
                        Port of Houston, 111 East Loop North, Houston, TX 77029
                        1:45 p.m. – Technology Demonstration
                        Sam Houston Tour Boat Pavilion, 7300 Clinton Drive, Houston, TX 77020

To attend the press availability and demonstration, credentialed media must RSVP to NGFR@hq.dhs.gov by Tuesday, December 4, 2018 to register and receive a media packet and additional information about photographs and recording at the Port of Houston. Media must register on-site.  

S&T, Industry, Responders Partner, Address Security Concerns

Everyday across the nation, our first responders answer calls for help. We’ve all witnessed the heroic, coordinated efforts to respond to the California wildfires, the heartbreak of all-too-frequent active shooter incidents, and the daily dedication of law enforcement, fire fighters, and emergency medical services (EMS) to keep our communities safe and secure. Through it all, most of us rarely consider the technology first responders use to fulfill their mission and how that technology must work and integrate seamlessly into their operations to help them face increasingly dangerous threats.

DHS S&T’s Next Generation First Responder Apex Program (NGFR) works with public safety agencies to ensure the technology we research and develop for responders is not only innovative but has the capability to integrate with agencies’ existing technology. Beyond simply aiding responders in their mission, this technology can ultimately keep our responders better protected, connected and fully aware.

Over the past year, DHS S&T has worked with local Houston, Texas, public safety agencies and the U.S. Coast Guard to assess some of their technical needs. We asked these responders what threats kept them up at night, what capabilities they wish they had, and how we could improve upon their existing technology. Working with the agencies that helped Houston survive Hurricane Harvey, their priorities were improving operational communication, operational coordination, responder safety and overall situational awareness. The NGFR program team partnered with industry and worked tirelessly to address these concerns.

This week, DHS S&T heads to Houston where we’re working with public safety and industry partners to demonstrate the operational value of cutting-edge first responder technologies during the NGFR – Harris County Operational Experimentation (OpEx). Using open standards and guidance from the NGFR Integration Handbook, the OpEx will evaluate how DHS-developed, commercial, and existing first responder technologies will integrate during a multi-jurisdictional coordinated response to a HAZMAT scenario at the Port of Houston.

The goal of this OpEx is to advance first responder innovation by showcasing the promise and potential of the next generation first responder. To do this, DHS S&T and partners will assess the integration of Internet of Things sensors into advanced situational awareness platforms, investigate the technical requirements of a coordinated response during a disaster, and demonstrate how integrated solutions deliver greater operational impact for public safety agencies across the nation.

This is a great endeavor and could not have been accomplished without the time and dedication from our Houston-area and Harris County public safety agency and industry partners for their time, dedication, and determination for a successful exercise. Homeland security begins with hometown security. It is partnerships like these that help us show the world the future of first responder technology.