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NPSTC’s - Current Events and Activities in Public Safety Communications. IWCE 2008 Thursday – February 28, 2008 – 11:15am – 12:30pm Moderator – Marilyn Ward Panelists – Tom Sorley, Douglas Aiken , Ralph Haller, and John Powell. NPSTC Member Organizations. Member Organizations:

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npstc s current events and activities in public safety communications

NPSTC’s - Current Events and Activities in Public Safety Communications

IWCE 2008

Thursday – February 28, 2008 – 11:15am – 12:30pm

Moderator – Marilyn Ward

Panelists – Tom Sorley, Douglas Aiken, Ralph Haller, and John Powell

npstc member organizations
NPSTC Member Organizations

Member Organizations:

American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials

American Radio Relay League

Association of Public Safety Communications Officials - International

Forestry Conservation Communications Association

International Association of Chiefs of Police

International Association of Emergency Managers

International Association of Fire Chiefs

International Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies

International Municipal Signal Association

National Association of State Chief Information Officers

National Association of State Emergency Medical Services Officials

National Association of State Foresters

National Association of State Telecommunications Directors

National Emergency Number Association

National Sheriffs’ Association

  • Associate Members:
  • Canadian Interoperability Technology Interest Group
  • Telecommunications Industry Association
  • Liaison Organizations:
  • Department of Justice
    • National Institute of Justice
  • Federal Communications Commission
  • National Telecommunications and Information Administration
  • U.S. Department of Interior
  • U.S. Department of Homeland Security
    • Office of Interoperability & Compatibility
    • Office of Emergency Communications
      • Federal Partnership for Interoperable Communications
    • Federal Emergency Management Agency
  • U.S. Department of Interior


how is npstc organized
How is NPSTC organized?

NPSTC’s Governing Board

Representatives from each of its member organizations.

Executive Committee

The Executive Committee comprises a Chair, two Vice Chairs, and the four Committee Chairs.

Four Operational Committees

Interoperability Committee

PSST Advisory Committee

Spectrum Management Committee

Technology Committee


in building working group
In-Building Working Group
  • Vendor Neutral Best Practices Document
  • Participation from Industry and Public Safety Paper published December 2007
    • The main document can be downloaded from the NPSTC website
    • The Appendices can also be downloaded from the NPSTC website
broadband standards working group
Broadband Standards Working Group
  • Public Safety Requirements
  • Massive effort by industry and public safety community.
  • Document contained requirements of PS
  • Opportunity for Review and Comment was provided to over 256,000 public safety users
  • Received and responded to over 400 comments
  • Published November 2007
broadband standards working group activities
Broadband Standards Working Group Activities
  • Handset Requirements
  • 4.9GHz Standard
  • Harmonization of PS broadband
technology education work group
Technology Education Work Group
  • Investigating Topic Area Deficiencies
  • Determining Target Audience(s)
  • Investigating Training Vehicles
  • Participation Welcomed & Encouraged

In the Fall of 2006, a couple of U.S. fire departments discovered that the voice audio from digital radios in the presence of background noises (common to the fire operations) may cause distortion to the degree of becoming unintelligible.

These Departments after not being able to get resolution to the problem or identify the cause other than it being in digital radios notified the IAFC, and the IAFF.


actions taken on the issue
Actions Taken on the Issue

March 20, 2007, the IAFC issued a Member Alert.

The IAFC also approved the formation of a Working Group to determine the scope of the problem and work with manufacturers and other stakeholders to identify and/or develop short and long term solutions.

On May 8, 2007, the Working Group convened and established two sub groups (Testing and Best Practices).

The Testing Group is focused on more long term solutions while the Best Practices Group is focused on quicker solutions through behavior and/or operational modifications.


best practices
On July 24, 2007, the Best Practices Group met and finalized forwarded its recommended best practices to the Working Group and to the Testing Group for follow-up.

Includes things such as microphone placement and specific issues that should be addressed in training.

Developed a PowerPoint presentation for educational and outreach purposes

Best Practices


testing group
In July, the Testing Group met in Denver and worked with NIST to develop a practical testing strategy. NIST started the testing on 11/9/07 using an intelligibility test call the Modified Rhyme Test (MRT)

9 noise conditions

With and without mask, noises like fire trucks, chain saws, low air alarms, PASS alarms

4 radio systems

25 KHz analog, 12.5 kHz analog, baseline P25, P25 with enhanced vocoder

54,000 sample files generated

Testing Group


testing status as of 1 11 08
15 of 30 subjects tested

12 additional subjects currently scheduled

Expect testing complete this month

Analysis expected by 2/28/08

Testing Status (as of 1/11/08)


general propositions
General Propositions

Radio communications are essential for successful Public Safety operations

Interoperability is vital

Between agencies

Across borders

Interference poses a significant threat to successful communications and to the safety of life of public safety responders


border goals
Border Goals

Borders should be transparent for public safety operations

Interference must be eliminated quickly

Note: Canada and Mexico present different challenges


major ps bands
Major PS Bands

150 – 174 MHz

450 – 470 MHz

470 – 512 MHz

700 MHz

800 MHz (including NPSPAC)

4.9 GHz wideband



NPSTC supports the HLCC and its Directory of Bilateral Issues for 2007-2009

Protocols for VHF/UHF spectrum use

Reconfiguration of 800 MHz band

700 MHz compatibility

Interference resolution procedures

NPSTC supports the cross-border microwave network solution for PS interoperability


mexico cont
Mexico, cont.

Further issues for consideration

4.9 GHz

TV channel 15 vacated in Mexico and should be considered for Public Safety use

Adoption of common nomenclature for public safety communications across the border



700/800 MHz progressing

Above 30 MHz Agreement needs revision

Too many US applications being denied

No common interference standards

No protocol for interference resolution

No 4.9 GHz agreement

NPSTC working directly with sister PS organization in Canada on common issues (under guidance of DOS and FCC)



Resolution of border issues is essential for national security

Seamless interoperability across borders

Several additional bilateral agreements to share or coordinate use of spectrum are needed

In the new agreements spectrum should be distributed equitably and procedures for coordination streamlined

Interference resolution procedures similar to those used with Mexico are needed for Canada


channel naming
Channel Naming
  • Background
    • Initially an NCC Interoperability Committee recommendation that was approved by the NCC and forwarded to the FCC, but FCC refused to require it
    • Resurrected by NPSTC in 2006, with drivers being Katrina and Wildland fires
    • Plan developed, nationally circulated, and revised on 5 Feb 2007 in Orlando
    • Nationally vetted for 90 days, revised and adopted by NPSTC Governing Board in June, 2007.
channel naming27
Channel Naming
  • New 700 MHz Channel Plan Overview
    • Has a placeholder for Federal interoperability channels managed by NTIA
    • Notes that there may be changes to the 700 MHz interoperability channels
      • Recent FCC action that consolidated the narrowband voice blocks
      • Petition submitted by NPSTC to modify 700 MHz interoperability/itinerant channel use
        • One National Calling channel
        • Voice secondary on one data channel
        • Deployable trunked infrastructure
        • Increased power on itinerant (analog) channels
channel naming28
Channel Naming
  • Also included in NPSTC Report
    • Standardized tone squelch (156.7 Hz)
    • Standardized digital NAC ($293)
    • Recommended subscriber channel configurations
    • Costs associated with changing to the recommended standard
    • Timeline for implementation, noting least/no cost options for updating programming
channel naming29
Channel Naming

Naming structure: Btype##M

B Band L,V,U,7,8


## A unique number from 01-99 that also identifies the band

M Modifier: “D” for direct or talkaround (simplex on output of pair)

channel naming30
Channel Naming
  • Recent changes
    • Modifications to account for 800 MHz displays with fewer characters
      • CAL90, TAC91, TAC92, TAC93, TAC94
  • ANSI standardization
    • APCO, an ANSI-accredited Standards Definition Organization, will be the lead in partnership with other NPSTC Governing Board organizations to standardize this system.
channel naming31
Channel Naming
  • What is coming in the future?
    • Plan has now been adopted by a number of states
      • Example: California, where use of the names per associated timeline is a condition of eligibility to use SIEC-managed interoperability channels
    • Once plan is ANSI-certified, will be returned to the FCC as a Petition for Rulemaking
      • Katrina and 9-11 Commission Reports noted lack of standardized interoperability channel naming as a major issue
      • ANSI certification carries significant weight
statewide planning
Statewide Planning
  • Background
    • All 57 states and territories submitted their SCIPS by the 3 Dec 2007 deadline
    • SCIPS and PSIC Investment Justifications are in final SME review at DHS
    • Quality and substance of plans varied widely across the country
    • It is clear that some states did not understand that the SCIPs required local input and approval, and were not a “state” plan, rather a “statewide” plan… stay tuned!
statewide planning33
Statewide Planning
  • National Interoperability Information eXchange (NIIX)
hot off the press
Hot Off the Press
  • Communications Unit Work Group
    • NIIX Community
    • Summary from Seattle meeting
      • COML Course Curriculum
      • Communications Unit Awareness Class
      • Delivery Schedule
  • Statewide Plan (SCIP) Review
plain talk
Plain Talk
  • Background
    • Aural Brevity Codes (10/11/900/Q codes)
    • Not an easy change since plain text replacement language needs to be standardized, too
    • Recent activity: State of Virginia
  • SAFECOM Initiatives
    • Plain Language Brochure
  • Where is this going?
    • Publication, and potential eventual online SAFECOM tool to assist with transition
how can you have a voice in npstc
How Can You Have A Voice In NPSTC?

Come to NPSTC’s quarterly meetings and have a voice in this important work.

Participate in quarterly NPSTC meetings via conference call.

Join a Committee or Working Group and participate in their working conference calls.

Join NPSTC’s listservs and stay abreast of issues and activities.

Remain current with the postings, publications and other resources on the website at