DHS Seeks to Improve Communication Between Public Safety Agencies in Joint Emergency Response Scenarios

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) and the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) jointly announced today that the Integrated Justice Information Systems (IJIS) Institute will spearhead a $268,000 project to develop interoperability standards for Computer Aided Dispatch (CAD) systems used by the Nation’s public safety agencies.

Managed by S&T’s First Responders and Detection Program on behalf of CISA’s Emergency Communications Division, the research project will seek to rectify the current inability of first responders (i.e., police, fire and emergency management services) to use their CAD systems to electronically exchange information with other CAD systems during a joint emergency response. This lack of interoperability means overall situational awareness suffers and operational inefficiencies can arise that could adversely impact coordinated response to an incident. Additionally, one-off attempts to improve interoperability by developing custom interfaces have proven costly to develop and maintain.

The “CAD2CAD” project’s goal is to create a resilient public safety CAD-to-CAD ecosystem that is efficient, interoperable, and supports multi-discipline response to regional, multistate, or national events. In the project’s first phase, Ashburn, Virginia-based IJIS will build upon existing efforts to develop interoperability capabilities by bringing together public safety practitioners and CAD solution providers in a collaborative effort to evaluate specifications, promote development of standards-based CAD interoperable solutions, validate methodologies, and conduct pilot tests.

“This project highlights the critical partnership with public safety to embrace emerging technologies and find solutions to improve interoperability for CAD systems, enabling efficient response operations across the Nation,” said Billy Bob Brown Jr., CISA executive assistant director for emergency communications. “Every second counts.”

“This IJIS-led project will help push the development of CAD interoperability standards across the finish line, resulting in greatly improved emergency response capability for the more than 6,000 public safety Emergency Communication Centers nationwide,” says Norman Speicher, the program manager in S&T’s First Responders and Detection Program overseeing the CAD2CAD project.

If the initial project is successful in developing CAD interoperability standards, an optional, 14-month second phase could be activated by DHS, during which IJIS and its collaborators would conduct solution testing to ensure the viability of the developed standards and plan for commercialization of the solution. If exercised, this option would make the total award $731,667.

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