Interoperability & Information Sharing

interopPolice, fire, and emergency medical service agencies need to communicate with each other within and across jurisdictions and disciplines—both during mission-critical incidents and daily operations.  Planning for and building voice and data communications systems that will ensure interoperability and improve information sharing can be complex and often costly efforts. 

Let SEARCH’s resources and practitioner expertise help with your public safety and emergency communications interoperability and information sharing needs. 

For the past decade, SEARCH has been a lead participant in supporting efforts at the local, State, and Federal levels to plan for and successfully implement interoperable communications projects and initiatives. We have–

  • Played a key role in organizing the National Forum on Public Safety Broadband Needs
  • Hosted one of the first nationally focused interoperability summits held in 2006.
  • Organized and served as faculty to numerous interoperable communications conferences and workshops nationwide
  • Published nationally recognized communications interoperability guides and issue briefs and prepared mission-critical resources
  • Served in key policy advisory and operational roles for U.S. Department of Justice and Department of Homeland Security communications interoperability programs, including managing and providing technical assistance under the national Interoperable Communications Technology Program of the DOJ’s Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS)  and SAFECOM.
  • Assisted with multijurisdictional terrorism response exercises and have substantial expertise in evaluating and writing regional Tactical Interoperable Communications Plans (TICP), Statewide Communications Interoperability Plans (SCIP), and Field Operations Guides (FOGs).


Additional Resources

Need advice on communications interoperability or information sharing in public safety or emergency communications? Want resource materials? SEARCH is here to help through a variety of tools, resources and publications:

SEARCH-developed DVD Highlights Critical Success Factors of Interoperability

Using grant funding provided by the U.S. Department of Justice Office of Community Oriented Policing (COPS), in 2007 SEARCH developed and produced a DVD highlighting successful interoperability projects from different parts of the country.

 dvdTo order the DVD, contact the COPS Response Center at 1.800.421.6770, or SEARCH at (916) 392-2550, ext. 200, SEARCH staff conducted interviews with representatives from five interoperable communications initiatives in New York, Louisiana, California, Arizona and Virginia. The interviews focused on exploring the 10 critical success factors for interoperability projects: 

This DVD is designed to allow viewers to navigate through the 10 critical success factors for a successful interoperability initiative using the latest in digital video technology. Building on SEARCH’s body of knowledge regarding the top 10 things grantees can do to increase their odds for success, SEARCH staff conducted on-air interviews of key stakeholders from five of the nation’s most visible interoperable communications initiatives: New York City, New Orleans, Los Angeles, Phoenix, and Virginia Beach. 

dvdDuring contact with grantees (through on-site technical assistance and conferences), SEARCH staff discovered that their intended audience is very likely to be interested in discrete topics that are pertinent to the phase of their particular initiative. For example, new grantees are typically interested in how to establish a successful governance structure, rather than how to conduct a risk management plan, whereas the inverse is true of a grantee that is well underway with their initiative. 

Therefore, the viewer has the option of selecting video segments that are pertinent to the immediate need, or they can select the “ALL” icon (in the middle of the main screen) to watch the video in its entire 30-minute duration.

Karen Lissy

Ms. Karen Lissy is a Justice Information Services Specialist for the Law and Policy Program of SEARCH, The National Consortium for Justice Information and Statistics. In this position, she provides assistance to state and local justice and public safety agencies to collect, curate, and use National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS) data and computerized criminal history record (CCH/CHRI) information for policy analysis and development.

She also guides justice and related organizations in how to craft and implement laws, policies, practices, and technology applications to effectively collect and use CCH and related justice/public safety data; address legal, policy, and regulatory issues associated with CCH data; better manage and operate criminal justice information and identification systems; and develop security and privacy policies that protect justice information sharing systems.

Ms. Lissy has nearly two decades of research and data analysis experience, having led projects and tasks in support of two agencies within the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Justice Programs (the Bureau of Justice Statistics and National Institute of Justice), as well as the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, and multiple foundations, including Ford, Annie E. Casey, and Hewlett. Prior to joining SEARCH in October 2020, Ms. Lissy served as a Social Science Researcher at RTI International, as a regional Crime Analyst for the Redmond (WA) Police Department, and as Director of a research program with the Harvard Center for Risk Analysis. Beginning in 2012, Ms. Lissy’s work has focused on improving data in law enforcement to answer policy questions and improve community/police relations.

Ms. Lissy earned a Bachelor’s degree in Public Policy from Duke University, and a Master’s in Public Health from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Michael Mackay

Mr. Michael Mackay is an Information Sharing Developer for SEARCH, The National Consortium for Justice Information and Statistics. As part of the Software and Data Engineering Program (SDEP) team, he plans, develops, implements, and deploys information sharing systems on behalf of SEARCH clients in local, state, tribal, and Federal government settings. He also provides programming, configuration, and testing assistance, and consults on implementation architecture and design with clients. 

Mr. Mackay supports justice, public safety, and homeland security information sharing nationwide through SDEP services that include software architecture and systems design, application development, deployment and support, data management services, and direct technical assistance and training. These services offer capabilities that include federated query, authentication access/control, subscription/notification, process/workflow automation, data analysis, and more. 

Prior to joining SEARCH in 2021, Mr. Mackay worked as a Software Engineering Intern for TDM Business Toole Suite, where he provided software development support using Java frameworks, implemented relational database models using MySQL, and designed GUI components using NetBeans. 

Mr. Mackay will work in an Agile development environment, a methodology that SEARCH embraces that focuses on incremental development and delivery, collaboration in a team approach, and rapid and flexible response to change throughout the development cycle. 

Mr. Mackay earned a bachelor’s degree in Computer Science and Applied Mathematics and Statistics from Stony Brook University, New York.