From the Introduction: "Emergency responders rely on their radios every day to maintain communications with other agencies and jurisdictions. In life or death situations, it is critical that their communications are both reliable and secure. Encryption is one way public safety agencies are ensuring secure and effective radio communications in an increasingly digital environment. Encryption enables secure communication between parties by standardizing an encryption key across all radios assigned to a group. This key acts as a password that must be known to decrypt the call at the receiving end. While this protects critical information for tactical and operational security reasons, using encryption requires enhanced interoperability during joint emergency response efforts. First responders using encryption can achieve and maintain interoperability by having an encryption key management plan and ensuring coordination amongst surrounding jurisdictions. The National Emergency Communications Plan (NECP) is the Nation's strategic plan to strengthen emergency communications and advocates for the incorporation of risk management strategies to protect against and mitigate disruptions to mission-critical communications. This spotlight will examine how emergency response agencies in the National Capital Region (NCR)--including multiple jurisdictions and agencies in Northern Virginia, Maryland, and Washington, D.C.--balance the need to protect critical information through encryption while also maintaining communications interoperability across jurisdictions. The region's efforts to develop the Public Safety Land Mobile Radio (LMR) Strategic Interoperable Encryption Plan (Encryption Plan) ensures radio interoperability locally, serving as an example of successfully implementing recommendations set forth in the NECP."
Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency: https://www.cisa.gov/