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emergency response

Recent Tragedies Illustrate Role of Information Fusion Centers

March 10, 2014
By George I. Seffers

Following the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, government agencies came under widespread criticism for failing to share information and "connect the dots." By contrast, law enforcement agencies were almost universally praised following the Boston Marathon bombing and the shooting at the Navy Yard in Washington, D.C., both of which took place last year.

World Complexity Creates Greatest Challenge

March 10, 2014
By George I. Seffers

The real challenge to keeping the homeland secure is dealing with the world's increasing complexity, Adm. Thad Allen, USCG, (Ret.), executive vice president of Booz Allen Hamilton, told the audience at the AFCEA Homeland Security Conference in Washington, D.C., on Monday during his luncheon keynote address.

Improving Information Sharing and Interoperability

March 10, 2014
By George I. Seffers

Homeland Security Conference Show Daily, Day 1

Information sharing and interoperability have come a long way since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, but challenges still remain, agreed speakers and panelists on the first day of the AFCEA Homeland Security Conference in Washington, D.C.

Adm. Thad Allen, USCG, (Ret.), executive vice president of Booz Allen Hamilton and former commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard, kicked off the discussion as the day’s keynote luncheon speaker. Adm. Allen cited the ever-growing complexity of the modern world as the major challenge for keeping the homeland secure. Whether the complexity of climate change creating havoc during Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Sandy, the growing complexity of technology wielded by foes or the complications associated with governments working together, the world has grown increasingly convoluted, Adm. Allen illustrated.

“We have to start learning how to raise leaders, operate and be successful in environments that have greater degrees of complexity,” he said. He cited climate change as one example. “You could have a tornadic event 100 years ago in Kansas, and it might be a catastrophic event and result in a loss of life. But looking at the critical infrastructure and population density that we have right now, it certainly takes on a greater degree of complexity, and therefore, the consequences associated with it are more extreme,” the admiral offered. “We’re at a point in this world where there is no significant challenge or crisis that can be handled by one particular agency, one private sector company, one entity, one faith-based organization, because the complexity of these situations demands resources and performance that exceeds traditional boundaries.”

That places a huge premium on being able to “cooperate, collaborate and work in new methods to actually produce results," he said.

Multiple Elements Come Together to Aid Philippines Typhoon Response

February 1, 2014
By Robert K. Ackerman

The success of Operation Damayan, the massive Philippines typhoon relief effort by the U.S. Pacific Command, owes as much to preparation as to execution, according to a U.S. official involved in the operation. Military communications equipment designed for easy entry and quick activation provided essential networking capabilities. Longtime multinational and bilateral exercises laid the groundwork for interoperability, both technological and organizational, between U.S. and Philippine armed forces. 

Seeking Smoother Interoperability Waters

February 1, 2014
By George I. Seffers

When the U.S. Coast Guard fields its newest cutter next year, the ship will be equipped with an information technology package that offers common tools and capabilities among the cutter and aviation fleets. The technology suite will improve interoperability across the service and with other agencies, and it enhances situational awareness while providing flexibility for future upgrades.

The Coast Guard’s aviation platforms already have been equipped with the second generation, or Segment 2 Command and Control System, of the technology baseline package developed under the Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (C4ISR) project. The project is a multiyear effort to design, develop and integrate the equipment on the Coast Guard’s newest assets, including the national security cutter (NSC), long-range surveillance aircraft and the medium-range surveillance aircraft.

Scalable Communications Key to Marine Typhoon Response

December 20, 2013
By Robert K. Ackerman

When the U.S. Marines needed to set up an emergency communications system on site in the wake of the devastating typhoon that ravaged the Philippines in November, they used an existing rapid deployment networking suite, which allowed nearly instant links with the two governments and with nongovernmental organizations as well. And, it all began with equipment carried into theater as if it were checked baggage.

Disaster Response Generates Network Security Concerns

December 4, 2013
By Robert K. Ackerman

The networking assembled for the emergency Philippine typhoon response broke new ground in connectivity among governments and relief organizations. However, it also opened the door to sabotage by cybermarauders.

Exercises Prepared U.S. Military for Philippine Typhoon Response

December 3, 2013
By Robert K. Ackerman

Years of exercises between the Philippine and U.S. militaries helped both countries work together in the massive rescue effort after the Asian nation was devastated recently by a typhoon. The U.S. effort, designated Operation Damayan, featured effective coordination amid a sterling execution by the Philippine military, according to U.S. military officers.

Nationwide Broadband Safety Network Seeks Industry Input

October 28, 2013
By Beverly Cooper

Work has begun at the federal level to develop a nationwide dedicated, reliable network, which will provide advanced data communications capabilities to police officers, firefighters and other emergency personnel. The First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) will enable public safety personnel to make cellular-quality calls and send data, video, images and text—similar to the capabilities offered on commercial networks. Incident commanders and local officials will have priority access and control over the network. Interoperability issues that result from stovepiped local systems, geographic limitations and other regional constraints also will be resolved.

The FirstNet program, which operates under an independent authority within the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), has issued an initial set of requests for information (RFIs) and has received more than 270 responses from industry so far. “We are looking for great expertise from vendors,” emphasizes T.J. Kennedy, deputy general manager, FirstNet, NTIA, Department of Commerce. A second set of RFIs will be issued after the existing input is reviewed, but no time frame has been set, he adds.

Currently, the organization’s efforts are task focused. The goal is first to develop a strong outreach team and then bring in the right technology and people working in an atmosphere that will drive innovation into public safety, Kennedy reports. Then the group will transition its efforts to a building focus.

Dispatch Center Incorporates Newest Technology, Promotes Interoperability

August 1, 2013

The new next-generation dispatch center for the San Luis Obispo County, California, Sheriff’s Office is one of the first in the nation to be completely Internet protocol-based, bridging its existing radio system with the latest smartphone and tablet technology. The new system turns a standard PC into a communications dispatch console and also turns a smartphone into a multi-channel land mobile radio handset for secure, on-demand push-to-talk communication. The system, from Raytheon and Twisted Pair, allows for better coordination for first responders as public safety entities move toward the First Responder Network Authority, or FirstNet, a secure, nationwide interoperable broadband network.

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