Interoperability and CHHS

January 27th, 2014

This blog was co-authored by Senior Law and Policy Analyst Christopher Webster, JD.

For more than seven years staff members with the Center for Health and Homeland Security (CHHS) have been working on interoperability programs around Maryland to ensure that first responders have the technology, tools, and operational support to do their job safely and efficiently.

From working on the Executive Order that established the Statewide Interoperability Program Management Office in 2008, to setting up and managing regional interoperability groups, to laying the groundwork for legislation introduced in 2014 to oversee the Statewide 700MHz radio communications system, staff have been closely involved in key projects involving strategic planning, grants management, and governance initiatives. Staff members work closely with the Statewide Interoperability Director, and local and state interoperability leaders in the Public Safety and Information Technology fields to make sure these initiatives and projects succeed.

In our capacity as experts we periodically advise clients on legislative gaps and opportunities. With the implementation in late 2012 of the Statewide 700MHz radio communications system known as Maryland FiRST, it became clear that there was a need for a governance body to provide oversight and management of the system. CHHS staff members undertook a comprehensive survey of local and state agency stakeholders to understand their needs, concerns, and suggestions for the formation, operation, and responsibilities of such a governance body. ​They also researched what other states with similar radio systems use for their governance model. Staffers then drafted sample legislation that became the foundation for the bills introduced in mid-January 2014 in the Maryland legislature to create a Radio Control Board.

“The work that CHHS did to reach out to our local counties and state agencies was instrumental in helping us as State leaders to better understand what they would like to see in the Radio Control Board,” said Ray Lehr, Statewide Interoperability Director. “The draft bill they researched and wrote also gave us a great head start in working with the Governor’s Legislative Office.”

The bills, Senate Bill 338 and House Bill 308, codify the system that is currently in place with an Executive Order. Establishing the Radio Control Board in law ensures that the State continues its mission of solid interoperability leadership.

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