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Creating Interoperable Communications for First Responders

Posted December 10th, 2010 by Jennifer Manner - Deputy Bureau Chief, Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau

Today we took a very important step in ensuring nationwide interoperability for public safety broadband communications.  The Public Safety Bureau, based on the recommendations of the FCC's Emergency Response Interoperability Center (ERIC), is working toward a technical interoperability framework . The ERIC recommendations were developed following a thorough review of fifteen interoperability showings from early builders of 700 MHz public safety mobile broadband networks, as well as extensive comments by the public safety community.

This technical framework will help ensure from day one that interoperability is achieved among all public safety broadband networks. It also moves us closer to ensuring that the nation will not face the same magnitude of problems previously identified by the 9/11 Commission and others regarding the limitations and inability of America's first responders to effectively communicate with one another during 9/11 and then, subsequently, during and in the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.  We look forward to our continued work with America's first responders, state and local emergency managers and hospital emergency departments to make sure their broadband communications needs are met.

Posted in Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau
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FCC Seeks Membership to Public Safety Advisory Committee Focusing on Technical Issues and Interoperable Public Safety Broadband Communications

Posted September 2nd, 2010 by Jennifer Manner - Deputy Bureau Chief, Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau

Earlier this week, the FCC marked the achievement of another significant milestone in the implementation of the National Broadband Plan’s recommendations for the deployment of a nationwide interoperable wireless broadband network for our Nation’s first responders by calling for public safety officials and others in the public to serve on a advisory committee that will make recommendations to the Commission as it develops the technical framework for the network (see public notice seeking nominations).  Over the past year we’ve met with public safety officials, lawmakers, government partners, and the communications industry with one goal in mind – deployment of a cutting-edge interoperable broadband network for America’s first responders, hospitals and other public safety officials. Teamwork among all interested parties is the best formula for one day making this network a reality.

Nominations for membership on the Emergency Response Interoperability Center Public Safety Advisory Committee are welcome and may be submitted through September 17, 2010. The establishment of this Federal advisory committee continues the Commission’s ongoing dialogue with public safety as the Commission develops a framework for nationwide interoperability and expands this dialogue by including members from a broad spectrum of stakeholders in the public safety community, such as representatives of state and local public safety agencies, public safety trade associations, federal user groups, and other segments of the public safety community, as well as service providers, equipment vendors and other industry segments involved in public safety.
The purpose of this Committee is to make recommendations to the Commission in the development of a technical framework and requirements for interoperability in order to ensure that the public safety wireless broadband network is interoperable on a nationwide basis. Among the challenging issues we face and the Committee will address are the adoption of technical and operational requirements and procedures to ensure a nationwide level of interoperability the adoption and implementation of requirements and procedures to address operability, roaming, priority access, gateway functions and interfaces, the interconnectivity of public safety broadband networks, and the adoption of authentication and encryption requirements for common public safety broadband applications and network use.
Tragedies in our recent National history have painfully demonstrated the need for a nationwide interoperable wireless broadband network for public safety.  We are committed to bringing this cutting-edge mobile broadband network to America’s first responders. The chartering of this advisory committee and the seating of its members provides an invaluable resource to inform the Commission’s deliberations and brings us one step closer as a Nation to achieving interoperable public safety broadband communications throughout America.


Posted in Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau

FCC to Host Public Forum on Mobile Broadband for First Responders

Posted February 5th, 2010 by Jennifer Manner - Deputy Bureau Chief, Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau

 There’s a lot of excitement around the Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau this week about our upcoming public forum on mobile broadband for first responders. On Wednesday, February 10th at 2:00 p.m., we’ll be hosting first responders, network operators, and policy makers for a two-hour discussion about how we can solve a problem that has plagued the public safety community for far too long.

Looking back over the past decade, there is one thing that every major disaster has in common: when police, fire, EMS, and other public safety organizations couldn’t communicate – between agencies and disciplines and across jurisdictional lines – lives were lost, and property was damaged or destroyed. While sharing photos, videos, and mapping data is now a part of everyday life for most Americans, the public safety community has largely been left behind. Despite all of the advances in mobile communications, the new generation of first responders still needs to carry a device that resembles a two-pound brick that only handles voice calls. Soon, however, all that will change.
One of the recommendations being explored by Commission staff for the forthcoming National Broadband Plan is the formation of an Emergency Response Interoperability Center (ERIC) at the FCC. As currently envisioned, ERIC would make sure that future public safety broadband networks use common interoperability standards and operating procedures. Before we can recommend the creation of ERIC, however, we consider it vitally important that we discuss the idea with the broader public safety community and with the commercial network operators who will likely be called upon to build the new network-of-networks.
The upcoming Public Forum will give the public and the public safety community a chance to collaborate with the FCC and commercial network operators on a framework for finally providing our nation’s first responders with ubiquitous and seamlessly-interoperable mobile broadband service. Next Wednesday, we invite YOU to share your thoughts on three broad topics that will be important to this effort. First, assuming ERIC is created, we want to learn how it can best be structured to meet the needs of first responders. Second, we want to learn what tasks the community thinks ERIC should tackle, in what order, and in what time frame. Finally, we’ll be looking for specific advice on how ERIC should interact with first responders in order to coordinate network development, reduce roll-out costs, and meet the differing needs of communities large and small.
The wider the participation we have for this forum, the better our final recommendations to Congress will be, so we hope you’ll join us in Washington (in the FCC’s Commission Meeting Room) or on-line!
PLEASE NOTE: Due to overwhelming interest in this forum and the limited time available, we regret that not every participant will have an opportunity to speak. To make the process as fair and open as possible, participants must request a three-minute speaking slot by emailing susan [dot] mclean [at] fcc [dot] gov by NOON on FEBRUARY 9th, 2010. The thirty-three available slots will be filled on a first-come, first-served basis.
Those unable to make it to DC can catch the event streamed live on the web at FCC.gov/Live and can follow our coverage on Twitter.


Posted in Events Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau