OEC and the New Emergency Communications Ecosystem
Ronald Hewitt, Director of the Department of Homeland Security Office of Emergency Communications (OEC), shared the agency’s strategy for navigating a new emergency communications landscape at APCO 2016 on Monday afternoon.
Hewitt said the OEC’s mission is to “support and promote interoperable communications capabilities used by emergency responders and government officials to keep America safe, secure and resilient.”
As part of a nationwide vision to drive interoperability and to bring public safety communications into the digital era, partnerships with state, local and federal stakeholders are key, Hewitt said.
Working with more than 350 of these entities, the OEC created the 2014 National Emergency Communications Plan (NECP), a “stakeholder-driven” effort that, according to the agency, “provides information and guidance to those who plan for, coordinate, invest in and use operable and interoperable communications for response and recovery operations.”
“With broadband, we have to open up our aperture and be aware of how things are changing” Hewitt said.
The plan is based on a SAFECOM continuum and aligned with a statewide interoperability plan (SCIP) in each of the 56 states/territories. The SCIPs are updated every one to three years.
With new dynamics come more capability, Hewitt said, but also an increased need for preparedness when it comes to interoperability.
“Interoperability is about the people using the technology,” Hewitt said.
To drive interoperability, you need advancements in technology, he said, but to solve its challenges, various stakeholders must work together through a governance structure using standard operating procedures and incorporating training and exercises.