State Public Safety Technology Forums: A First Step in Keeping Marylanders Safe

CHHS Broadband Team

April 30th, 2014

Working with Maryland’s Statewide Interoperability Office, the CHHS staffers that make up the Maryland Broadband Team played a key role in three recent public safety forums that helped spread the word about the State’s progress with its public safety technology programs and how agencies around the State can get involved. Lori Stone, CHHS Senior Law and Policy Analyst, working as the State Broadband Coordinator in the Maryland Statewide Interoperability Program Management Office, worked closely with the Governor’s Office of Homeland Security, the Governor’s Office of Crime Control and Prevention, the Maryland State Police (MSP), and the Department of Information Technology (DoIT) to organize and host the forums. They were held in April in three regions across the State: the Western Regional Forum in Frederick; the Central Regional Forum in Hanover; and the Eastern Regional Forum in Easton. Participants learned about the State’s new radio system, computer-aided dispatch and records management system, CCTV program, situational awareness mapping tools, and the planning for FirstNet – the Nationwide Public Safety Broadband Network (NPSBN).  As members of the State’s Broadband Team, Christopher Webster, CHHS Senior Law and Policy Analyst, Max Romanik, CHHS Law and Policy Analyst, Ben Yelin, CHHS Law and Policy Analyst, and myself contributed to and attended each Forum.

The Forums were led by Raymond Lehr, Maryland’s Statewide Interoperability Director and Single Point of Contact (SPOC) for the State for FirstNet, and included speakers such as Major Ken Hasenei and Sonya Anderson from MSP, Barney Krucoff and Ken Miller from DoIT, and CHHS interoperability experts discussing FirstNet. Each presentation came down to one important message: shared information is power. Sharing information and data is the key to both solving crimes, responding to disasters, and preventing future ones. With advances in the technology being used in public safety, Maryland is leading the way. From interoperable radios and CCTVs to the planning for FirstNet, Maryland is putting itself in the best position possible to better protect its citizens. Jack Markey, Director of the Frederick County Division of Emergency Management and Clay Stamp, Assistant County Manager and Director of Talbot County Emergency Services, also spoke at the Forums about the importance of the counties and the State working together on public safety technology programs.

At each regional Forum, five technology programs were presented to public safety and information technology specialists. Maryland FiRST, a state-of-the-art digital 700Mz communications system, will provide the highest level of interoperability in emergency communications around the State. Major Hasenei presented on the Statewide Computer Aided Dispatch/Records Management System (CAD/RMS) which will include users and dispatch centers throughout the State of Maryland. The CAD/RMS will be a major improvement from many previous dispatch and records systems by increasing efficiency at all levels. Sonya Anderson, also from MSP, gave an overview of MView, the state and regional CCTV program and system, which is a secure web-based portal for viewing first responder video that provides situational awareness. OSPREY, a suite of tools that consolidates many sources of real-time and geographic data was presented by Barney Krucoff and Ken Miller. Stone, Romanik, and Webster presented on FirstNet and explained how Maryland is in the planning stages of the nation’s first ever high-speed broadband data network dedicated to public safety.

CHHS staffers have been working with MSP and DoIT to reach out to public safety stakeholders in the State to help FirstNet build a network that meets the needs of first responders and the workers who support them. The Forums were the first step in their outreach program. While first responders were learning about the new advances in their field, the Broadband Team emphasized that many of these programs will be enhanced by the deployment of FirstNet. Not only will they have the technology that enables them to do their job, it will always be accessible no matter where they were or what conditions they found themselves in. Data including video, maps, suspect pictures, and surveillance videos will be available to first responders in the field and in the palm of their hand.  The presentation conveyed that FirstNet is about making first responders safer and more efficient.

Moving forward, CHHS staffers will utilize their interoperability expertise during the coming months to collect input from first responders and public safety stakeholders in order to prepare the State for its consultation with FirstNet about the deployment of the NPSBN in Maryland. And when FirstNet is deployed, this dedicated nationwide high-speed broadband network will give first responders the power to share data and information that will help them do their jobs better and more safely, ultimately keeping the people of Maryland safe.

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