This September will mark the 10 year anniversary of 9/11 and public safety radio interoperability still remains a problem in many areas.
This is hard to imagine, especially since the Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) and other agencies have investment more than $900 million since then. So, you might wonder, what’s the issue?
In many areas, investments have been made without an overall strategy or identified goals on the local and regional level. Some regions are still struggling with where and how to develop a plan or address all of the requirement elements. Funding for planning and training has been distributed; however, many regions have not taken full advantage of it.
True interoperable communications cannot occur without every component of the interoperability picture coming together. The components that must be addressed include technology, operating procedures, governance, training and funding.
Here’s a logical, step-by-step process for interoperability planning:
Step 1: Assess and document the current state of where your agency currently stands related to technology, operating procedures, governance, training and funding. Read more on public safety radio inventories.
Step 2: Complete a gap analysis to analyze each of these areas based current state versus desired state. Identify trends and common issues with your operational assessment and establish priorities. Document, define and categorize all issues and un-met needs associated with technology, spectrum, SOPs, agreements, training, personnel and knowledge.
Step 3: Strategic planning must be completed in order to develop and document the region’s vision to achieve interoperability. Specific projects and initiatives that will achieve the strategic vision should be identified.
All of this should create the foundation of a timeline and goals that are based on priorities highlighted in the gap analysis. We recommend setting short-term and long-term goals based on realistic funding availability.
Step 4: Tactics should be implemented beginning with technology investments and phases. Active governance and participation is critical and training should be conducted based on what is needed. Documented knowledge of resources should occur. Make funding and grant requests aligned with your strategic plan and priorities.
Step 5: Issues and priorities can change often. Complete a regular review of your plan and update it when necessary. Adjust for any progress made or not achieved.
Tell us what’s worked and what hasn’t for you when it comes to strategic interoperability planning.
And, stay tuned for more posts on this subject in coming weeks or download our Guide to Logical Interoperability Planning presentation on Slideshare.