DHS Releases Interoperable Communications Scorecard Findings

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has released its “Tactical Interoperable Communications Scorecards Summary Report and Findings,” which summarizes the level of tactical interoperable communications capabilities in 75 urban/metropolitan areas.

Only six of 75 cities were given a top disaster rating, including Washington, D.C.; San Diego, Calif.; Minneapolis-St.Paul; Columbus, Ohio; Sioux Falls, S.D.; and Laramie County, Wyo.

The lowest rated cities include Chicago; Cleveland, Baton Rouge, La.; Mandan, N.D.; and American Samoa. According to the report, 39 of the 75 communities have no interoperable communications plans or only partial plans.

According to the report, tactical interoperable communications is defined as “the rapid provision of on-scene, incident-based, mission-critical voice communications among all first responder agencies (i.e., emergency medical services [EMS], fire, and law enforcement), as appropriate for the incident.”

The scorecard findings covered three main areas: Governance (leadership and strategic planning), Standard Operating Procedures (plans and procedures), and Usage (use of equipment).  The criteria were developed by SAFECOM, which was consulted by DHS in the development of the scorecards.

The report identifies gaps and areas for improvement, such as the need to link disparate systems and facilitate communications between first responders from separate jurisdictions, as well as achieving a more formalized system for governance across regions.

Five panels of experts reviewed documentation on current communications plans. The panels made recommendations for each region on how to best improve its communications capabilities.

According to a prepared statement, DHS will not use the scorecards to determine which jurisdiction receives funding to improve state and local interoperable communications efforts. However, the department expects that communities will use the scorecards to target their investment justifications and improve interoperable communications capabilities.

DHS has awarded communities nationwide a total of $2.9 billion to enhance interoperable communications.

The report can be found at www.dhs.gov.

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