It was a nightmare scenario: John Smith (name is changed) the director of a mid-size Midwest PSAP (Public-Safety Access Point), got a call in the middle of the night. His IT manager said there was a possible DDoS attack. Workstations and mobile data began to lock up quickly as the attack spread.
John’s first thought: we just invested in a bunch of anti-virus software and bought new, state of the art firewall and hardware solutions. How did this happen?
John’s experience is one faced by PSAP directors around the country and serves as a cautionary tale from a recent article authored by Motorola Solutions: An Introduction to Cybersecurity for the PSAP.
The article argues that too many PSAPs, like John’s, focus solely on software and hardware solutions instead of a comprehensive cybersecurity strategy. While technology is important, so are well-defined processes and fully trained staff. A thorough understanding and implementation of best practices from standards bodies such as APCO, NENA, CJIS, NIST, and others are also critical.
The article serves a high-level guide to help readers implement an end-to-end cybersecurity solution based on the NIST Cybersecurity framework, including technology, processes, and people.
One of the most important aspects of an end-to-end cyber strategy, according to the article, is getting a handle on its overall scope. PSAPs must define the systems and data to protect, looking at systems such as CAD, reporting, and telecom and especially often overlooked systems such as radio, mobile data applications and devices, access control systems, and IIoT devices. Once the full cybersecurity scope is defined, along with a full understanding of risks and threats, cybersecurity processes can be developed and put into place.
Well-run PSAPs closely adhere to a set of standard operating procedures (SOPs). Cybersecurity should be no different. A well-constructed SOP ensures smooth operations, especially during times of crisis, while helping to manage risk and liability. The SOPs also form the foundation for an employee training program, creating a written record that ensures everyone is clear on their responsibilities and roles within the cyber strategy.
People are the most important element in any cybersecurity strategy. That’s why it’s so important for all employees, not just the IT department, to understand their roles and be able to carry out their responsibilities according to the cyber SOP. Ongoing employee training and testing as well as continuously refreshed risk assessments are critical pieces of the SOP and integral to a successful cybersecurity strategy.
NIST Security Framework
Fortunately, the National Institutes of Standards and Technology (NIST) designed a framework to help agencies create cybersecurity strategies. The NIST Cybersecurity Framework defines the technologies, processes, and people necessary to create a PSAP SOP and provides guidance on five key areas: Identify, Protect, Detect, Respond, and Recover.
For PSAP Director John Smith, and other men and women throughout the country facing the same challenges, a detailed and complete end-to-end cybersecurity solution based on the NIST Framework is the best defense against cyber threats. By integrating technology with processes and people, PSAPs can take a proactive approach to cyber security and will never have to wonder how a devastating breach could have threatened their operations.
Read the full article, An Introduction to Cybersecurity for the PSAP.
Marilyn Barrios is the Senior Cybersecurity Training Specialist at Motorola Solutions.
April 8 – 14 is designated as National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week to honor 9-1-1 Emergency Call Takers and Dispatchers who serve as the lifeline to thousands each day who need help. 9-1-1 service has been a part of our lives for 50 years, and this is the one week each year dedicated to recognizing the importance of the work these men and women do. However, the role they play in our communities is critical to remember and appreciate every day.
It takes a special kind of person who is expert at facing a workshift full of unpredictability, having tremendous patience and dealing with tons of stress. The role requires being detail oriented, quick, courteous and calm during the chaos of emergencies…and, their actions may mean the difference of life and death.
The dedicated service of these hidden heroes, who are the essential link between law enforcement and emergency response personnel, is priceless and vitally important. At Motorola Solutions, we are humbled and proud to work alongside thousands of PSAPs and Emergency Communications Centers and to equip Call Takers and Dispatchers with the tools to successfully answer calls for service including CallWorks, VESTA, PremierOne and Spillman Flex.
Thank you, First, First Responders for all that you do!Dan Twohig is the Vice President of Software Enterprise at Motorola Solutions.
A seamless, reliable network is essential to business- and mission-critical communications. From public safety and the military to transportation and logistics, organizations around the world rely on land mobile radio (LMR) systems as their go-to communications network.
Since the 1930s and the early days of simple analog two-way radios, LMR technology has undergone a massive transformation. Today’s LMR systems are software-defined and IP-based to meet users’ evolving need. And like all IT-based systems, whether shared or used by a single entity, they are not immune to cyberattacks.
As a result, how they are maintained and supported requires a new breed of resources and expertise. System operators must be knowledgeable not only about the equipment but also about the IP- and software-centric network components to ensure communication is secure and available 24x7x365.
How you manage your LMR system is vital to maximizing uptime and limiting disruptions. Around the world, users are tackling this challenge in a variety of ways—from regular system updates and continuous network monitoring to proactive cybersecurity strategies and system performance trends and analysis.
To gain a clearer picture of the measures that system operators are applying to their networks, Motorola Solutions is conducting an LMR system management survey.
Our research report will provide insights into several compelling areas:
- Support and maintenance services that your peers are using to support their LMR systems
- Cybersecurity measures being taken to address and respond to threats
- Best practices for minimizing network downtime and improving system performance
- Future system management priorities
LMR systems operators and customers are invited to share their experiences and insights in our inaugural survey. The results will be used to help stakeholders and individuals responsible for ensuring system uptime improve their performance by learning from one another and gaining insights into the best ways to tackle the challenges of this complex communications environment.
Click here to get started. For every survey completed, Motorola Solutions will donate $5 USD to the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) or International Centre for Missing and Exploited Children (ICMEC). (Total donations will be capped at $2,500 USD.). Once our study is complete, we will be happy to share the results with you.
Graeme Casey is the Astro 25 Systems Services Offer Manager at Motorola Solutions.
On February 16, 1968, the first 9-1-1 call was placed by Senator Rankin Fite in Haleyville, Alabama. Before this time, if someone had an emergency, they would dial “0” for the operator or call the local station. It wasn’t until the Public Safety Act of 1999 that 9-1-1 was officially established as the nation’s emergency calling number.
Back in 1968, AT&T was the telephone service provider for most of the United States, and rotary phones were predominantly used. For those of you who never used a rotary phone before, YouTube demos highlight what it was like to place a call.
The 9-1-1 system is now so familiar that most people don’t even think about it, until an emergency happens. 9-1-1 remains a vital part of everyday crime-fighting, fire and emergency medical response, as well as the management of major events and the response to natural disasters. Legacy 9-1-1 systems installed decades ago are based on analog circuit-switched technology used in the Public Switched Telephone Networks (PSTN), and remain the backbone of how calls are delivered.
While not much has changed with the technology in use, what has changed is how calls to 9-1-1 are placed.
Approximately 240 million 9-1-1 calls are placed a year with 80% of calls using cellular phones. With the proliferation of smart devices now in use, new technology colliding with old infrastructure can have major implications in call processing speed, flexibility to route calls, and location accuracy by PSAPs (Public Safety Answering Points) when help is needed most.
9-1-1 services need to grow beyond voice to save seconds and lives.
Public safety agencies recognize the need to improve supporting requests for assistance and face many challenges in transforming how they can respond faster and smarter. The efforts of the NG9-1-1 Institute, APCO International, NENA and iCERT organizations place the critical needs of public safety in the forefront to achieve the true promise of Next Generation 9-1-1 -- helping first responders do a better job and protect the well-being of the communities served.
The next 50 years: accelerating transformation.
NG9-1-1 will eventually replace the current 9-1-1 systems allowing citizens to send text messages, photos, videos, and other digital information to public safety agencies to respond more safely and effectively. Motorola Solutions is proud to be working alongside public safety agencies for 90 years, innovating mission-critical communications, and providing service and support for call-taking and dispatch solutions for over 30 years, including PremierOne and Spillman Flex. Our expansion investment with CallWorks and pending acquisition of Airbus DS Communications, along with our partnership with RapidSoS, are designed to help agencies accelerate beyond NG9-1-1 and expand their capabilities with enhanced intelligence for improved response and safety.
Over these past 50 years, 9-1-1 has saved thousands of lives thanks to the many heroes who helped answer the calls. As technology rapidly evolves, Next Generation 9-1-1 delivers the flexibility and tools needed to effectively and efficiently support operations and achieve the best possible outcome for years to come.
Dan Sawicki is Principal Strategy Consultant, Emergency Call Handling.
A variety of body-worn camera (BWC) benefits have been outlined since they were thrust into the spotlight over the past couple years. In this series, we are breaking down three primary components of successfully using the digital evidence BWCs produce in court. This is based on a piece from our recently released Digital Evidence 101 white paper bundle.
In this post we will focus on creating greater judicial efficiency and what needs to be considered when evaluating body-worn camera solutions to accomplish that.
Automation Is Critical To Close Out Cases Faster
To minimize disruption from the sheer volume of content BWCs capture and create, it is important to choose a BWC solution that automates as much of the digital evidence management workflow as possible. This will ensure minimal disruption to officers and save valuable administrative time and costs for your agency in delivering to judicial partners what they need to prosecute a case successfully.
For instance, when searching through evidence, it can be tedious to manually associate pertinent file information or to comb through unorganized data. But when digital evidence can be searched for, grouped and filtered by metadata, tags, notes and incident information automatically associated with the files, that process is completed in seconds, not hours or days.
Removing personally identifiable information when sharing evidence and even consistently purging content according to state and local policies can also be tedious processes if done manually. Consider integrated capabilities within your digital evidence management software such as object-based redaction and retention schedules assigned to tags to automate it.
Automated processing facilitates better cooperation and collaboration with judicial partners by fulfilling requests more efficiently without having to hire additional administrative staff. This means not only are you able to successfully close cases faster, but you are even saving budget that can be used to retain or add officers in the field.
If you’ve missed my previous two posts that dive into other important considerations for successfully using body-worn video in court, be sure to check them out here and here. If you are interested in our complete paper on this topic, visit our Digital Evidence 101 page for that exclusive content plus much more!
Jason Hutchens is the Former Director of the Planning and Assessment Division at Indiana Homeland Security, and is a Current Public Safety Industry Expert at Motorola Solutions.
Congratulations, you’re set up, you've had your meetings, and everyone is on the same page about Intelligence-led policing. This is going to be the next best thing since radios and Velcro duty belts! But, alas, I've saved the hardest for the last, putting intelligence-led policing into long term action. Intelligence-led policing is not something that can be tried for a season and then put on the shelf.
In this blog series we have discussed how it must be the heart of an organization wide approach at policing. Intelligence-led policing, like most new things to your department, will take an adjustment period for everyone to become comfortable in using it. No more will what I call the “shotgun method” of patrolling be adequate or effective in your police department. The “shotgun method” of patrolling would be just driving aimlessly around in your zone checking your buildings, answering calls, and otherwise seeing if you can drive up on something. No, as you learned, there is a much more effective way to direct your patrols to where they need to be and when they need to be there by using the intelligence that you already have at your disposal. By using geographic maps, hotspot maps, and time of day/day of week charts, to direct patrols, your officers stand a much greater chance to prevent or disrupt a criminal pattern in their area.
Patrol will not be the only beneficiary of your new intelligence-led policing initiative, your department's special teams will certainly benefit from your newfound directive. I'm a big believer in specialized reports for special teams such as: narcotics, traffic, detective bureau and SWAT. In my career I created specialized reports for narcotics that not only showed the house that they were investigating, but the houses in close proximity that were also dealing narcotics. The obvious benefit of these reports would be to show possible networks of narcotics sales localized in certain neighborhoods. An added benefit, and a safety benefit, would be to use those maps when planning undercover operations so as not to base your operation near a house with similar criminal activity that might compromise your location.
For my traffic teams, reports on specific streets where the most speeding tickets were written might indicate where we would need to set up a speed reduction device such as a traffic monitoring trailer or red light camera. I routinely produced reports based solely on the cases assigned to my detectives division separated by property and persons crimes. I was able to show, through various visualizations, where the majority of each zone assigned detectives cases were originating from, and from a historical view of that report, estimate the seasonal caseload that each detective might expect so that they might focus on their most prolific and serious offenders.
And for my SWAT team, I was able to create a report that showed, through the use of geographical satellite maps and criminal activity overlay, the best possible access route to a target location. For instance, I would create a map with a target location in the center of the map. I would then overlay similar crimes along the planned route to that target location. With that information, we were able to best layout our safest route to the target location, avoiding any locations with similar criminal activity in order to minimize the possibility of conflict or identification before the target location.
My best advice to you and your department as you begin this new intelligence-led policing chapter, would be to look outside the box that we all create for ourselves within each department. Ask yourself, how would this information, visualized in a different way, help better our department? Ask your staff, if you could improve one thing about how you receive information on crimes, what would it be? Then work with those suggestions to tailor your intelligence-led policing approach specifically toward your department's needs. Do not assume that just because you are used to a certain reporting style or visualization, that that is the best way or the only way to create that report.
Like most cops, I have a strange sense of humor, and therefore really enjoy de-motivational posters. You know, the ones that look like motivational posters, but actually have a cynical or smart alec way of looking at things. My favorite of these posters kind of sums up my approach to breaking out of our predetermined boxes to reach new levels of policing. It’s a picture of a group of men in the “Running of the Bulls”, and in this picture, one of the men is about to get the business end of a bull if you know what I mean. The caption on the poster reads “Tradition. Just because we've always done it this way, doesn't mean it's not incredibly stupid.”
As always, feel free to check out our crime analytics resource site to learn more about how you can properly evaluate solutions that will help you turn big data into actionable intelligence and start you down the path to becoming an intelligence-led agency.
Daniel Seals is a Former Crime Analyst and Detective, and Current Public Safety Industry Expert at Motorola Solutions.