Homeland Security’s 2014 National Emergency Communications Plan Incorporates Amateur Radio
The US Department of Homeland Security’s 2014 National Emergency Communications Plan (NECP) has incorporated Amateur Radio in its mix of media that could support and sustain communications in a disaster or emergency. The 2014 NECP is the first update since the original plan was released in 2008. The NECP is “the nation’s over-arching strategic plan for enhancing emergency communications capabilities and interoperability nationwide,” DHS said in announcing the updated plan on November 12.
“[A]mateur radio operators…can be important conduits for relaying information to response agencies and personnel when other forms of communications have failed or have been disrupted,” the NECP states.
The NECP also describes changes that lie ahead for emergency communication systems, such as 9-1-1 systems. “In the future, Next Generation 9-1-1 will enhance the capabilities of current 9-1-1 networks, allowing the public to transmit pictures, videos, and text messages that will provide additional situational awareness to dispatchers and emergency responders,” the NECP says.
The updated NECP stresses the importance of interoperability. It recommends that state, regional, and local administrations “assess their existing governance structures to ensure they are positioned to address current and emerging policy, technology, and planning developments.” This effort, the NECP continues, could include the addition of representatives from the Amateur Radio community to statewide interoperability governing bodies and executive committees.
The NECP also recommends that federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial jurisdictions “identify domestic and international entities with potential roles in information sharing and the delivery of emergency communications during emergencies,” such as Amateur Radio operators. “As appropriate, these entities should be incorporated into training and exercise activities on a more regular basis,” the NECP suggests.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) — a part of the Department of Homeland Security — is headed by a radio amateur and ARRL member, W. Craig Fugate, KK4INZ.