SEARCH Issue Brief Series Focuses on Communications Interoperability

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SEARCH has prepared a series of six Issue Briefs in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Justice Office of Community Oriented Policing (COPS). They are available to view and download at www.search.org/programs/safety/issuebriefs/.

"Through our work with COPS Interoperable Communications Technology Program (ICTP) grantees since 2003, our staff has had an opportunity to study successful projects around the country," said Dan Hawkins, Director of SEARCH Public Safety Programs. "These issue briefs represent some of our findings and further analysis on key topics affecting interoperability projects."

The Issue Briefs, prepared by SEARCH staff or consultants, are as follows:

  • Disaster Planning and Recovery: 9-1-1 Center Survivability, by John Walker. This Issue Brief takes a look at what has been learned about 9-1-1 communications center survivability since Hurricane Katrina, and offers insight into what we might expect and what we need to be thinking about to assist 9-1-1 centers to respond to and recover from major and catastrophic events that affect 9-1-1 operations.


  • Communications in the Incident Command System, by Dan Hawkins. This Issue Brief presents background on communications within the National Incident Management System and its Incident Command System. It examines the role of communications within these constructs, as well as in the context of multi-agency response to disasters and emergencies. It concludes with operational best practices for effective use of incident communications units.


  • Building a Regional Communications Plan, by John Walker. A key step in integrating technology and operational requirements is building a regional communications plan. This Issue Brief presents the basic steps in building such a plan to improve interoperability and, ultimately, joint response to emergencies.


  • Interoperable Communications Training and Exercises: Creating Processes, Tools, and Techniques, by Julie Stinson and Dan Hawkins. Communications is not an independent element of emergency response that can be adequately exercised and evaluated in isolation. It is through integrated exercises that communications can be trained in context, tested, evaluated, and set for continuous improvements. These will assist your agency or region in becoming better prepared to prevent, respond to, and recover from a real-world incident.


  • Performance Measurement and Interoperability, by Benjamin Krauss. This Issue Brief defines interoperable communications, performance measures, the SAFECOM Interoperability Continuum, and provides predictive modeling/statistical measurement solutions. It presents an overview of how these concepts could be combined to develop a solution for performance measurement and interoperability.


  • Project 25: The Quest for Interoperable Radios, by Dan Hawkins. Project 25. Few terms have been more closely associated with the quest for communications interoperability among public safety agencies. But what exactly is Project 25? Where did it come from and where is it headed? What is its value to public safety agencies and technology managers? This Issue Brief attempts to answer those questions, providing background and current information for decision makers who may be considering use of radios and radio systems built around standards that have arisen from the project.