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Interoperable Communications: SCIP Into Action

Aug 15

Written by: Grants Office, LLC
Monday, August 15, 2011  RssIcon

By Vince Siragusa
August 2011

For many in the first responder community, the looming January 1, 2013 deadline will inevitably mark a day of reckoning. As many of us know, the Federal Communications Commission’s forthcoming narrowbanding requirements call for each current 25 kHz legacy wideband channel to be divided into two 12.5 kHz narrowband channels, thereby resulting in twice the number of available frequencies for communication and information sharing needs to be met. Failure to comply with this narrowbanding deadline will result in a loss of licensed communication and possible FCC fines.

As IT departments across the nation continue assessing their current radio equipment and compatibility, significant attention should be afforded the necessary role individual communication equipment plays in national interoperable communication. True interoperability must respect the fact that human and bureaucratic elements will likely play as much a role in your project as technology alone. In order to facilitate that process, the Statewide Communication Interoperability Plan (SCIP) will quickly become relevant for all involved.

At of the end of 2008, every state and territory was required to have their SCIP in place and over time will be required to report to DHS on the progress in implementing that plan. In simplest terms, SCIP serves as the backbone for all levels of interoperable communications planning and deployment. It establishes both current statewide expectations and a future vision for what enhanced interoperability means to those who play a necessary role in that functionality. Not intended to offer high level ideas or suggestions, compliance with this plan is necessary in order to contribute to effective communications and to qualify for much of the grant funding that will inevitably fund this invaluable network and equipment.

Anyone looking to approach a project dealing with communication needs will not only have to know a bit about their state’s plan but also be sure that the understanding is ingrained in their project planning and deployment as well. And, as communication projects continue to move forward with various developments, coordinating those improvements with your Statewide Interoperability Coordinators (SWIC) and/or SCIP Points of Contact will ensure that your project aligns with the needs identified in your statewide plan. Those coordinator positions can be regarded as the central point of contact for those operating under state governance. Additionally, the leadership these positions provide allows emergency response leaders—across all government levels—to implement their statewide strategies for interoperability, make sure projects fit disaster preparedness plans and avoid duplication of efforts.

Some of the other responsibilities include:

  • Overseeing the daily operation of the state’s interoperability efforts
  • Coordinating interoperability and communications projects
  • Maintaining governance structures
  • Assembling working groups to develop and implement key initiatives
  • Updating and implementing the SCIP

Anyone interested in reviewing their SWIC or in having a discussion regarding the next steps in the interoperable communication process should speak with their state coordinators as soon as possible. For further information about how to contact those resources or to contact your SCIP, please e-mail the DHS’s Office of Emergency Communications at oec@hq.dhs.gov.

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