NEWS

DHS Releases National Emergency Communications Plan

By Laura Spadanuta

The Department of Homeland Security's Office of Emergency Communications (OEC) has released its National Emergency Communications Plan (NECP).  The plan aims to improve emergency communications' operability and interoperability within and between states, nationwide. 

The plan outlines three goals to establish a minimum interoperable communications level between states and jurisdictions, according to a DHS release:

  1. By 2010, 90 percent of all high-risk urban areas designated within the Urban Areas Security Initiative (UASI) can demonstrate response-level emergency communications within one hour for routine events involving multiple jurisdictions and agencies.
  2. By 2011, 75 percent of non-UASI jurisdictions can demonstrate response-level emergency communications within one hour for routine events involving multiple jurisdictions and agencies.
  3. By 2013, 75 percent of all jurisdictions can demonstrate response-level emergency communications within three hours of a significant event, as outlined in the department's national planning scenarios.

The plan also provides recommendations and milestones for officials to follow.  According to Homeland Security Under Secretary Robert Jamison, "This is a comprehensive plan designed to drive measurable and sustainable improvements to operable and interoperable emergency communications nationwide over the next three years. It emphasizes the human element and cross-jurisdictional cooperation, going beyond simply buying new equipment." 

Jamison added that DHS has approved statewide communication interoperability plans for the nation's states and territories, and the NECP will augment that and enhance coordination.

The NECP has generated controversy for the Office of Emergency Communications because it was supposed to have submitted the NECP to Congress in April.  There were complaints that states wouldn't be able to use the plan in order to apply for federal grants (applications were due July 21, while the grants are expected to be announced by OEC on August 1), according to Nextgov.com.

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