CISA Releases Updated National Emergency Communications Plan

Globe connectionsThe 2019 edition of the National Emergency Communications Plan (NCEP) has been released by the Department of Homeland Security‘s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA). This is the first release of the NCEP since 2014. In the beginning pages of the report, CISA Director, Christopher Krebs, comments on how drastically the field of emergency communications has changed since the 2014 version of the NCEP. “The frequency and complexity of emergencies are on the rise during a time when technology is advancing at a faster pace than any other time in history. While responders still rely heavily on land mobile radio for voice communications, comprehensive strategies for emergency communications must integrate the full Emergency Communications Ecosystem, including broadband, alerts and warnings, social media, and Next Generation 911.”

It is CISA’s responsibility to update and implement the NCEP across the whole of government and community partners in order to best increase the effectiveness and efficiency of emergency communications. As such, the 2019 release of the NCEP establishes 19 objectives across six strategic goals and three national priorities. Each objective is also accompanied with its own indicators of success. Some of the objectives include:

  • Incorporate risk management strategies to protect against and mitigate disruptions to mission-critical communications.
  • Incorporate human factors in training and exercises to address the demands that voice, video, and data information place on personnel.
  • Support public safety requirements that drive research, development, testing, and evaluation of emergency communications technology.
  • Determine public safety-specific, standards-based cyber hygiene minimums and fund ongoing risk mitigation.

In sum, the “NECP emphasizes the close collaboration of stakeholders to plan for and shape the future of emergency communications. The deployment of new technologies provides emergency responders access to high-speed and cutting-edge capabilities, while current emergency communications networks offer responders the security, reliability, and coverage they need to execute their mission in an all-hazards environment. Striking the right balance between addressing existing gaps and requirements while also integrating new technologies is a significant challenge facing public safety organizations across all levels of government.”