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911 Connects

Federal Partner Spotlight: DHS Advances 911 Services

Published Feb 2016

The Program and DHS will co-develop valuable tools and unify 911 communication at the Federal level through an exciting new partnership.

Continuing efforts to collaborate in support of 911 across Federal agencies, the Department of Transportation’s (DOT) National 911 Program and the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Office of Emergency Communication (OEC) are working together to ensure a safer public and effective access to emergency services. Separate, parallel efforts are now a part of a collaborative relationship in which the two groups combine resources and coordinate specific activities to improve 911 services across the country.

The impetus for this newfound coordination is the inclusion of 911 and Next Generation 911 (NG911) in the 2014 National Emergency Communications Plan (NECP). As efforts to improve a comprehensive emergency communications ecosystem are underway, this partnership was a logical next step that has already yielded documents and tools for the emergency communication industry.

Emergency Communications Governance Guide for State, Local, Tribal and Territorial Emergency Communication Officials

This October, SAFECOM, a group within DHS that seeks to improve emergency response provider communications and interoperability, and the National Council of Statewide Interoperability Coordinators (NCSWIC) jointly released the Governance Guide as a comprehensive tool for public safety professionals.

The Governance Guide addresses the first goal of the NECP, which is to improve emergency communication planning, coordination and decision-making through leadership and governance structures. As part of this Guide, twenty case studies were created to share real-world examples of a variety of strategies and structures from across the country that governing bodies can use as a guide.

“All across the country, first responders and emergency communication agencies are working together for a more effective, efficient, and interoperable future,” reflected Laurie Flaherty, Coordinator of the National 911 Program. “As emergency communication continues to evolve to incorporate advances such as NG911 and FirstNet, it is critical for the people who represent all elements of the emergency communication ecosystem to work together, so that emergency communications are truly interoperable.”

OEC Liaison

The OEC recently created a 911 liaison position “to help DHS, OEC and NHTSA meet mission critical needs associated with emergency communication systems”, says Jerry Jaskulski, who has been appointed to the position. A firefighter and emergency manager veteran who has worked in the OEC Policy and Planning Branch for the past three years, Jerry will bring his 911 policy and funding experience to the Program.

“911 has to be right,” he says. “In emergency situations, if you start right, you will end right.” His mission is to combine resources with the 911 Program, transform duplicate efforts into synergy and expand community outreach efforts by sharing respective constituent bases.

Cybersecurity Risk Management Tool

As emergency communication systems move toward NG911 across the country, it is essential for PSAPs to address issues surrounding security risks, infrastructure and interoperability. A soon-to-be-released paper by the OEC outlines best practices and other resources for PSAPs to manage cybersecurity risks.

The paper includes an effective framework for PSAPs to identify and assess risks, mitigate risks through a variety of strategies, and continuously monitor and evaluate their risk management process.

The paper is expected to be available online in early 2016.