Magazine article National Defense

Cities Get Tutored on Disaster Communications

Magazine article National Defense

Cities Get Tutored on Disaster Communications

Article excerpt

A federal program mandated to help state and local public safety officials coordinate reactions during a crisis has launched a program to increase interoperability. The goal is to implement improvements before the presidential elections, Department of Homeland Security officials said.

The initiative is being led by SAFECOM, an umbrella group run by DHS and funded by nine of its agencies. It is aimed at the top 10 cities receiving Urban Area Security Initiative money. Delegations of federal preparedness officials began to visit the cities in May. They are asking what role the federal government could play in helping communications, said Derek Orr, SAFECOM's chief of staff, at a recent infrastructure security conference.

"We asked, can we make an improvement in three months?" he said. "We found most agencies have command level interoperability. The issue is policies and procedures."

SAFECOM's prescription was tabletop scenarios and systems testing, as well as helping with on-site engineering support. …

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