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.
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.
Precise 9-1-1 caller location from RapidSOS has been integrated with CommandCentral to help find and better respond to those in need.
In April, we announced a partnership with RapidSOS to deliver precise location information for U.S. 9-1-1 calls made from smartphones. The initial integration shared precise location across the emergency call, from citizens in need to call-takers using our CallWorks application. We are now pleased to announce the expansion of this valuable functionality, and more, into our CommandCentral platform, starting with CommandCentral Inform.
CommandCentral Inform, which provides a map-based, common operating picture of events and resource locations, will now include a 9-1-1 call data layer to display caller locations alongside other critical operational information. But even better, is the ability for CommandCentral Inform to also display additional data sent from the smartphone upon a call being made. This could include health information of the caller, demographic information and even telematics from connected cars, wearables and other IoT data sources - all to provide greater context to the call.
By expanding into the CommandCentral platform, this vital information is now not only accessible to Call Takers using CallWorks, but also Supervisors, Analysts, Command Staff and even First Responders who are in need of increased situational awareness for better decision making.
This integration also shows our increased commitment to providing the most seamlessly integrated public safety software suite, from call intake to incident resolution. “We are able to provide an uninterrupted flow of information. This creates more efficient and streamlined workflows” said Andrew Sinclair, the newly appointed head of Motorola Solutions’ Software Enterprise. “Because of integration across the portfolio, first responders are able to act more collaboratively and efficiently and ultimately be that much more successful.”
"The integration of data from the RapidSOS NG9-1-1 Clearinghouse into CommandCentral Inform creates an unprecedented flow of information around an emergency," said Michael Martin, CEO of RapidSOS. "The result is accelerated response, first responders with unparalleled situational awareness, and lives saved."
This new integration will be on display at the Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials (APCO) 2017 Annual Conference & Expo August 13th - 16th in Denver, Colorado at both the Motorola Solutions booth #801 and RapidSOS booth #747.
Bradley Janitz is Global Marketing Manager at Motorola Solutions.
NG9-1-1 ALLOWS US TO PROVIDE HIGH-PERFORMANCE SERVICE
Gloucester County is big, diverse and thriving. We’re a tight-knit community that’s large enough to leverage national and state resources, and yet small enough so that residents never feel that our services are impersonal. They know they can rely on county personnel to provide individual help whenever they need it.
Emergency services, delivered through the Gloucester County Emergency Response Center, are a perfect example of this. By collaborating with all 24 of our municipalities on 9-1-1 dispatch and emergency management, we can deliver the necessary response quickly and effectively. We’ve reduced the time of response for emergencies and increased the quality of that response. People here feel safe because of that.
WE GAINED BETTER INTEROPERABILITY AND ACCURACY
More than 1,500 police officers and 300 civilians provide a full range of law enforcement services to nearly 900,000 residents and business owners, while our Emergency Response Center dispatches police, fire and emergency medical services for 24 towns in Gloucester County, as well as for five towns in the neighboring Atlantic County. The Gloucester County Fire/EMS Department alone responded to more than 145,000 calls in 2016.
With so many different emergency services, interoperability is crucial, so we had to upgrade to the latest next generation 9-1-1 technology regardless of how complicated we thought it would be. Once we started the process, it went quicker than we realized. We also recently upgraded to a push-to-talk solution that allows all our first responders, as well as supervisors and administrators, to communicate with each other in a device-agnostic manner.
WE ARE NOW ABLE TO RESPOND TO CITIZENS WHO CAN’T CALL 9-1-1, BUT CAN TEXT
As citizens, we use so many more communication channels than we used to. For many of us, texting is our first thought when we need to reach someone. As first responders, we know that we must be responsive to our customers, no matter how they try to reach us.
With a growing population and rapid changes in technology, we knew it was important to bring new capabilities in an effort to help citizens in times of need. That included upgrading our call center technology to one that was ready for text to 9-1-1.
We pride ourselves on being innovative, collaborative and doing things that make a difference for people who live here.
This is a place where people want to stay, where they want to invest in their future. Businesses want to stay here because they know our future is bright. And the same goes for our community’s first responders and emergency telecommunicators. All of us who work in emergency response do it for the reward of helping people with vital information, support or rescue. We’re a central part of the life of Gloucester County, and we love what we do.
Tom Butts is Director of 9-1-1, Gloucester County Emergency Response.
Most 9-1-1 agencies know what an internet browser is. However, not many understand what NG9-1-1 is and how to transition. Almost every public safety agency is trying to figure out all the implications of next generation emergency. I have met with many customers who ask similar questions: does the solution I purchased today work for tomorrow’s standard? As Text-to 9-1-1 advances, can my command center software easily adapt? Are future standard enhancements included in my maintenance agreement? Is the system flexible to address future standard requirements?
The transition to a next generation call system can involve an ample amount of work. Overall, agencies must be ready to plan out budgeting, technical preparation, operational planning, governance issues and more.
As you look to integrate NG9-1-1 into your emergency communications center, CallWorks, previously called Emergency CallWorks, can answer ‘YES’ to all those questions. CallWorks provides an innovative, browser based NG9-1-1 offering that converges call taking, dispatch and mapping, together. As an integrated part of the Motorola Solutions software enterprise, CallWorks continually adapts to the latest NG9-1-1 standards.
What’s the benefit of a browser based NG9-1-1 solution?
It is a reliable, repeatable system with reduced deployment time at an affordable price. Flexibility is inherently built into the browser-based solution, allowing it to be implemented on-site or hosted and scaled to the size of an organization. Want to add a new position or a new site? It’s easy to do.
Because the NG9-1-1 standard is constantly evolving, the other real benefit of a browser based solution is the ease of upgrade to future standard requirements. With an ongoing maintenance agreement, your system is protected. There will not be any unforeseen software expenses to meet future standard requirements, such as text to 9-1-1 with an appropriate service plan.
Going to APCO in Denver, CO – August 13-16, 2017?
Please stop by Motorola Solutions Booth #801 for a quick demo of CallWorks, first hand. We know you will be amazed at the intuitive user interface of this browser-based, innovative NG9-1-1 solution. Experience the simplicity of Text to 9-1-1, the precise location of the mapping tool and the integrated CAD. Not going to APCO? See why Gloucester County transitioned to NG911 in this blog or watch their story here.
I am so excited to share the benefits of a browser based NG9-1-1 system and what it means for the future of next generation call taking. Stop by Motorola Solutions Booth #801 at APCO 2017, meet with a NG9-1-1 expert and spend some time exploring the innovations beyond Next Generation.
Craig Dollar is the Director of 9-1-1 Strategic Projects at Motorola Solutions.
In 2015, Motorola Solutions purchased Emergency CallWorks to provide customers with a proven browser based solution. Beginning June 1, 2017, we have simplified the name to CallWorks but nothing else changes. It is still the same reliable, customer driven software, developed by the same people with the same relentless customer service trusted by public safety organizations. Stop by booth #801 at APCO and experience CallWorks first hand.
Read the CallWorks: Innovation Beyond Next Generation Blog for more information on the acquisition of Emergency CallWorks.