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CISA looks to future-proof first responder communications

With the growing amount of data, video, and information services (DV&IS) in the communications ecosystem, public safety agencies need priority access to advanced services to support national security and emergency response and recovery.

To further that goal, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency is seeking feedback on a potential new requirement for two programs it manages: the Next Generation Network Priority Service  (NGN PS ) and the Telecommunications Service Priority programs. 

CISA’s NGN PS program was developed to move priority voice communications features from circuit-switched telephone networks to IP-based packet infrastructures and deploy new DV&IS capabilities to ensure responders have access to the capabilities they need.

Now, CISA’s Emergency Communications Division wants the latest information on evolving communication services that can provide secure priority DV&IS across all types of existing networks, under all conditions – even when networks become congested, overloaded or degraded -- for federal, state, local and governments, national security and emergency preparedness users and infrastructure owners. ECD is interested in evaluating secure, enhanced-priority services that provide “ubiquitous coverage, interoperability with other service providers and resilience during times of natural, man-made disasters or any congestion event,” the division said in a Jan 19 request for information.

ECD is looking at capabilities that allow authorized users to access and transport secure communications and that can authenticate priority services users.

Specifically, it wants to know about emerging technologies that could enhance priority communication services and the latest standards or technologies -- such as 5G, internet of things, artificial intelligence or machine learning -- for securing sensitive telecommunication traffic when networks are damaged, degraded or overloaded. According to the RFI, ECD is also interested in real-time dashboards that can be used for monitoring, remediating and defending responders’ communications traffic.

Responses are due Feb. 25.

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