Moving Tactical Field Operational Plans from Paper to Practice: Making a System Field OperationalTopic/Title: "Moving Tactical Field Operational Plans from Paper to Practice: Making a System Field Operational"
In its COPS 2007 Technology Program grant application, the City of Virginia Beach sought to improve public safety communications in the region through expansion of ORION. ORION is a cooperative venture of seven Hampton Roads cities: Virginia Beach, Norfolk, Chesapeake, Hampton, Suffolk, Portsmouth, and Newport News. ORION’s function is to act as a voice and data network overlaying compatible systems maintained individually by the partners for routine operations and to provide supplemental interagency and incident management communications. The first phase of the network was funded earlier in large part by a 2004 COPS Interoperable Communications Technology Program (ICTP) grant. The proposed second phase targeted improvements in coverage, extension of the data system, addition of further voice and data user radios, and addition of a backup master controller site.
Participant: Sgt. Bob Christman, Virginia Beach (Virginia) Police Department and Chairman, ORION Advisory Group
Listen to Full Interview (duration time: 20:00:00)
- Hampton Roads, led by the City of Virginia Beach, received a COPS grant in 2004 and 2007 to build out the Hampton Roads Overlay Regional Interoperability Network, also known as ORION. Can you give us some background on the ORION Regional Radio System Network, more specifically:
- We know that ORION is a radio system, but from the public safety practitioner perspective, what is ORION?
- Who are some of the partners, agencies, and other cities jurisdictions participating in ORION?
- ORION has its foundations in the Incident Command System structure; can you please elaborate further on the role of the system during a regional emergency?
- Hampton Roads was one of the early pioneers with the development a 700 MHz P25 regional overlay radio system using a Tactical Interoperable Communication Plan, sometimes referred as a TICP. SEARCH helped facilitate the development of this plan with stakeholders from the region.
- You currently serve as chairman of the ORION Advisory Group. This group was formed to facilitate the opportunity to garner operational input for ORION and is a key stakeholder group for the development of ORION and ultimately to the operational success of the system.
- As you know, ensuring a technically capable system based on tactical needs is just one element of a public safety project. Taking the system from technical to operational where users can operate in the field is certainly as, or more, difficult than the installation of the system – wouldn’t you agree?
- OK, so now we know that a tactical plan is important for the basic foundations of a system and that the operational elements are just as key to the success or failure of a system. A technically sound system is only as good as the first responder’s ability to use the system.
- Can you talk about how the ORION Advisory Group is working to take ORION from a technically sound system with a solid tactical plan, to one that is fully operational for field personnel?
- What role does an exercise and training play in this transition from technically operational to field operational?
- The TICP was developed to be all encompassing of the elements of ORION and the Hampton Roads regional emergency communication assets – from 800 MHz Channel Plans to individual agency trunked radio talkgroups. It has proven to be a very large document. Compressing the TICP into a regional field operations guide (RFOG) is the next step for Hampton Roads.
- What do you perceive to be the role of the RFOG for Hampton Roads and ORION?
- We know that most of this TICP was never directly relevant to the field personnel – trained first responders focus on their specific radio requirements and execute their mission based on their training. How does the RFOG help the everyday first responder?
- Also, when a large-scale regional emergency does take place, the larger base of emergency first responders provide assistance. How is the RFOG going to help during a large scale multi-jurisdictional, multi-agency response?
- Once the RFOG is developed, it will be an additional tool for the Hampton Roads first responders as well as those responding to the region.
- You have gone from ORION inception, to ORION installation, to TICP development, to ORION expansion, to table top exercises, to RFOG all with the idea of having a fully operational system that the users know how to use when the time comes.
- In closing, what are your take-away messages for the success of others in transitioning from a tactical plan to actual system operations?
Written transcript of interview
These podcasts are made possible through the COPS 2007 Technology Program. They are part of a continuing technical assistance and training program designed to share information between grantees and others who may benefit from their experiences. Interviews recorded and presented as podcasts will focus on practical guidance for information sharing and communications interoperability projects.
This project was supported by Cooperative Agreement #2007-CK-WX-K002 by the U.S. Department of Justice Office of Community Oriented Policing Services. Points of view or opinions expressed in this podcast are those of guests and moderators, and do not necessarily represent the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.