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Ref: Massachusetts governor announces state-wide interoperability plan


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Statewide Communications Plan Initiated

- December 08, 2007

BOSTON - Gov. Deval Patrick and Secretary of Public Safety and Security Kevin Burke have announced the creation of a new Statewide Communications Interoperability Plan designed to address critical communications needs of first responders.

The plan is Massachusetts' first comprehensive statewide strategy and enables state and local emergency response agencies and other key stakeholders to effectively exchange communications and data, particularly during emergencies.

The Executive Office of Public Safety and Security has submitted the plan to the U.S. Department of Commerce. Once the plan is approved, the Commonwealth will receive as much as $21 million in federal interoperability grants.

In previous years, municipalities and regions spent such federal funding independently. By designing an integrated statewide plan, the Patrick-Murray Administration said it will ensure that future expenditures and emergency public safety efforts are coordinated across jurisdictional boundaries; address the state's priorities and needs; follow shared guidelines; and are governed consistently.

"Jurisdictional boundaries must not impede the safety and security of the people of Massachusetts," said Burke. "The Statewide Communications Interoperability Plan is designed to strengthen public safety partnerships between cities and towns and ensure that first responders throughout the commonwealth have the training and resources they need to save lives."

"Massachusetts now has a detailed plan that will guide and structure the state's strategic goals for improving first responder communications. Although this project is entitled 'interoperability,' which often implies that agencies need to share information during a large incident, the real importance of this work will be accomplished when day-to-day 'operability' is achieved," said Undersecretary for Homeland Security Juliette Kayyem. "That means that those agencies that need to communicate and share information every single day can do so easily and accurately."

The state developed its plan with assistance from Science Applications International Corp., a technical services company with extensive experience in the field of public safety interoperability that has nine offices in Massachusetts. Over the course of six months, the Commonwealth convened 22 focus groups with more than 200 participants from state and local agencies in order to identify capabilities, gaps, priorities and goals for improved interoperability.

In addition, the state also convened an executive committee comprised of subject matter experts from all levels of government for additional input. The committee formulated 15 interoperability project initiatives (six of which are highlighted below), designed to address communications gaps, strengthen relationships between agencies, and foster an environment of cooperation across jurisdictions and disciplines. The plan, which is designed to be implemented over the course of five years will be updated every year; as project components are implemented and systems are improved, new initiatives will be considered and developed.

In conjunction with the completion of the plan, Patrick signed Executive Order No. 493 Establishing the State Interoperability Executive Committee on Nov. 29. It provides for the formal creation and recognition of the State Interoperability Executive Committee, which will act as an advisory group on strategic priorities, expenditures, and future requests for federal funding.

Interoperability Initiatives Examples

· Information Sharing – to develop information sharing and command and control requirements across Law Enforcement, Public Safety and Emergency Response communities and to implement necessary shared infrastructure.

· Mobility project – to expand existing wide-area Command and Control channels; to develop long-range channel planning for 700 MHz; to prepare for implementation of mobile data systems and gateway systems for information sharing; to more fully prepare for Continuity of Government contingencies, including wireless interoperability systems.

· Innovation – to examine and plan for the use of advanced information sharing and mobility technologies.

· Protocols – to develop statewide Standard Operating Procedure protocols that comply with the National Incident Management System (NIMS) and to utilize training, with special emphasis on the Communications Unit leader courses.

· Governance – to complete all necessary charters and codify memberships in the State Interoperability Executive Committee (established by Executive Order 493) and regional committees following Department of Homeland Security recommendations and addressing unique aspects of Massachusetts governance.

· Funding – to assure funding resources for all acquisition, sustainability and maintenance of interoperability equipment
© 2007 iBerkshires

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