Texas Emergency Management ONLINE 2014 Vol. 61 No. 11

Office of the Statewide Interoperability Coordinator

The Office of the Texas Statewide Interoperability Coordinator (SWIC) is a part of the Public Safety Communication Service within the Law Enforcement Support Division at the Department of Public Safety.  Texas SWIC duties are carried out by Deputy Assistant Director Todd Early, and the Deputy SWIC, Karla Jurrens.

The SWIC Office has the responsibility of coordinating interoperable communications across the State. The ability for agencies across the state to communicate as needed--when needed is critical to effective emergency management.

Texas Interoperable Communications Coalition
Governance is the underlying strength of interoperability.  Interoperable communications in Texas is governed by the Texas Interoperable Communications Coalition (TxICC). The TxICC is a voluntary organization of Federal, State, local, Tribal, and non-profit entities including traditional emergency communications disciplines as well as public utilities, critical infrastructure security, and transportation agencies.  The TxICC, along with the SWIC, provide oversight of the Statewide Communications Interoperability Plan (SCIP) implementation and maintenance.  The TxICC provides the forum to discuss emergency communications goals and initiatives, as well as to ensure that all levels of government have the opportunity to align their efforts.

Texas Interoperable Communications CoalitionClick for larger view

Knowing who you might call for assistance (and who you will be assisting) and what their communications capabilities are allows for quick and efficient response.  Having Regional Standard Operating Procedures in place, and conducting regular training and exercises to test communications ensures everyone knows what to do when an event or incident happens. 

The TxICC established a SCIP Executive Council (SEC) consisting of one delegate from each COG region, the three Tribal Nations, and a State Agency representative to serve as the official voting entity of the TxICC.  The Statewide Interoperability Coordinator (SWIC) provides oversight and leadership to the TxICC.

Statewide Communications Interoperability Plan

TXICC – Annual Strategic Planning Conference

TXICC – Annual Strategic Planning Conference

The Texas Statewide Communication Interoperability Plan (SCIP) is a stakeholder-driven, multi-jurisdictional, and multi-disciplinary statewide strategic plan to enhance interoperable and emergency communications.  The SCIP is a critical mid-range (three to five years) strategic planning tool to help Texas prioritize resources, strengthen governance, identify future investments, and address interoperability gaps.  The goals and objectives outlined in the SCIP emphasize the need for training and usage of interoperable channels.  The current SCIP document can be found on the DPS website.


The purpose of the Texas SCIP is to:

SCIP Workshop – September 2013

SCIP Workshop – September 2013

  • Provide the strategic direction and alignment for those responsible for interoperable and emergency communications at the State, regional, local, and Tribal levels.
  • Explain to leadership and elected officials the vision for interoperable and emergency communications, as well as demonstrate the need for funding.

The Department of Homeland Security-Office of Emergency Communications provides workshops with states to periodically review and update their SCIPs.

Texas Statewide Interoperability Channel Plan (TSICP)

TSICP

The TSICP describes conditions and guidelines for programming and use of state-licensed interoperability or mutual-aid radio channels.  License privileges are extended to organizations that have an executed  Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Texas Department of Public Safety. 

The TSICP is available on the Public Safety Library – Click on the PS Library button, select Webview and search for ‘Texas’.  A very useful feature of the PS Library is the downloadable applications for Apple and Google play.  The TSICP can be downloaded onto a mobile device and the user will receive automatic notifications if the document has been updated.

Downloadable applications

 

 

The latest version of the TSICP added sections outlining the use of Mobile Satellite Talk Groups (MSAT) and the Statewide Coordinated P25 Radio Unit Identification (ID) Plan.   Each region of the State has been assigned a range of Radio IDs which provides a process to maintain a set of unique identifier assignments in order to coordinate P25 Radio Unit IDs across the state.

Benefits of this voluntary approach include:

    State map
  • Ability to quickly connect systems without reprogramming – Systems which are coordinated relieves one of the most significant obstacles to integrating systems; which is the need to resolve duplicate Radio Unit IDs.
  • System owners only need to track one Radio Unit ID per radio, which makes tracking and managing radios, users and radio programming profiles (‘codeplugs’) much easier.
  • Avoids the likelihood of duplicate Radio Unit IDs, saving significant troubleshooting effort for radio system support teams.
  • Simplifies the mechanisms for enabling First Responders to operate on different systems throughout the State, saving precious time during disaster response.
  • Helps eliminate errors in assigning IDs because they are organized into a Radio Unit ID fleetmap structure.
Interoperability Report

Legislative Report
The Office of the SWIC releases the annual “Texas Department of Public Safety Report on Interoperable Communications to the Texas Legislature” which provides detailed information and data on the progress of interoperable communications across the state.  The latest version of the report can be found on the DPS website.

Texas Public Safety Broadband
Texas and FirstNet have executed a Spectrum Management Lease Agreement which authorizes the Big-Net Long Term Evolution (LTE) system in Harris County to continue operations for 3 years, and allows Harris County to continue the planned expansion of the system.  The LTE Outreach and Education efforts continue with providing Regional Broadband Planning meetings in the 24 Council of Government areas.  Currently 18 regions have completed their kick-off meetings. 

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