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FirstNet releases consultation packages: State talks are next

On April 30, FirstNet released initial consultation packages to each state and tribal government. The package is the first step in states developing plans for a national broadband network. Through this process, each state will complete the consultation checklist prior to meetings and conference calls with FirstNet, starting in July.
Each state will have to meet with its stakeholders and other contacts in order to determine if it will opt in to the Radio Access Network (RAN) or opt out. If a state opts out, it will have 180 days to develop a plan for its own RAN, which must be approved by the Federal Communications Commission and FirstNet. The state would then initiate its own solicitation process. States that go this route will be able to apply for grant funding; however, the total allocation is not yet known. There will be a lot of work required of each state in order to make this decision; the consultation phase of the FirstNet process will essentially end when a final state plan is presented to its governor.
Analyst’s Take
While it may be too soon to determine how many and which states will opt out of FirstNet, there will most certainly be states that make the decision to develop their own RAN. Like with Affordable Care Act, many states decided to build their own health insurance exchange rather than use the federally run network. Still, there were obvious hiccups with both state networks and the initial rollout of the federal network.
While RAN is not at all the same system or type of network, states may be wary of both scenarios. In either case, states that cannot afford their own network – even with grant funding – will join the feds. Other states that may see this as an opportunity to build out a stronger network will go at it alone.
Over the next six months, vendors need to follow the new FirstNet website for updates and state consultation results. While these state consultations will take place from July 1 through November 30, 2014, they will be occurring on a rolling basis and some states will complete tasks ahead of others. States that decide to opt out early may begin developing solicitations soon, while others may clearly be in favor of joining the federal RAN.
Several states have already begun the process of building out their own broadband networks. Pennsylvania is currently reviewing vendor proposals, and Minnesota awarded a contract to Televate for its own broadband system. Surely, the next six months will be a very important and exciting time as FirstNet inches closer to reality.
Read more about state initiatives in the links provided. Non-subscribers can gain access to GovWin IQ with a free trial.


Deltek Pulse: Justice/public safety and homeland security month in review, March 2014

The most common terms appearing in justice/public safety and homeland security solicitations during March were camera/surveillance, fire alarm and radio. The below maps provide information on where solicitations were released during the month. 

  • Number of public safety bids: 1073
  • Top three states (by number of solicitations released): California (148), Pennsylvania (58) and Ohio (58)
  • Keywords: camera/surveillance, fire alarm and radio

Frequency of terms

  • Surveillance: 31 (9 state; 22 local)
  • Radio: 14 (three state; 11 local)
  • 911: 8 (three state; five local)


  • Quite a few states either issued or had open solicitations for corrections technology in March. Texas chose to combine its previously separate radio frequency electronic monitoring and GPS electronic monitoring projects into a single solicitation. Florida, Arizona and Nashville, Tenn., have solicitations out for inmate phone systems, and several others have open projects for other corrections technologies.
  • Radio system projects renewed their prominence with several states and counties moving forward with solicitations.
  • Computer-aided dispatch (CAD) and related public safety software systems also saw resurgence with several RFIs and RFPs released, including an RFI released by the Arizona Department of Public Safety for a law enforcement CAD system.

Notable projects

  • Clark Regional Emergency Services Agency (CRESA) released a request for proposals for public safety communication equipment.
  • The California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES) released a request for information for text-to-911 foreign language translation services, which will be utilized at public safety answering points (PSAPs) throughout the state.
  • The Western States Contracting Alliance (WSCA) released a solicitation for public safety communication equipment, which at least 10 states intend to participate in.

 Analyst’s Take

March had 44 fewer solicitations released compared to February, and many of the key solicitations released were for larger entities and larger projects, which have longer-than-average timeframes for completion. It is also expected that these projects will take longer to award as they may require more extensive review of technical responses.

One of the most expensive and technical systems required in public safety is the public safety radio system, which proved to be extremely popular in March, along with other traditional JPS technologies such as CAD and records management systems. Besides the large WSCA contract, which is expected to be used in at least 10 states and can be used by localities within those states, several other entities released radio RFPs as well. The radio systems, however, varied in type and location. Several projects, such as one in San Francisco, focus only on individual entities, while others are more regionally focused to cover a broader area, like in Sarasota. Still, the requirements are generally similar regardless of where the system is being implemented.

The majority of entities looking to replace or upgrade their system are choosing an APCO P25-compliant replacement in the 700 or 800 MHz band. These systems are also consistently narrowband, as required by the FCC. What remains to be seen, however, is whether the entities currently working on solicitations will choose to include long-term evolution and other broadband options in the future.

GovWin IQ subscribers can read further about these projects in the provided links. Non-subscribers can gain access with a GovWin IQ free trial.


Deltek pulse: Justice/public safety and homeland security January review

The most common terms appearing in justice/public safety and homeland security solicitations during January were camera/surveillance, fire alarm and radio. The below word cloud provides a visual interpretation of key-term frequency.

  • Number of public safety bids: 1,057
  • Top three states (by number of solicitations released): California (13), Virginia (58) and Texas (57)
  • Keywords: camera/surveillance, fire alarm and radio

Frequency of terms

  • Surveillance: 23 (eight state; 15 local)
  • Radio: 11 (one state; 10 local)
  • 911: 6 (one state; five local)

The below graph provices information on the break-down of the types of entities purchasing justice and public safety technologies.


  • States have begun focusing on broadband projects recently, though, unlike Minnesota which awarded its FirstNet project, few are ready to commit to a course of action at this point. Florida released an RFI for its FirstNet project in late December and it is likely that other interested entities will begin the process through RFIs or consulting projects.
  • Several 911 projects moved forward in the final months of the year, including South Dakota’s release of a solicitation for an ESInet and Pueblo County, Colorado’s awarding of its project for NG911 CPE.

Notable projects

  • The state of New Hampshire released a request for proposals for Computerized Criminal History AKA Criminal History Record Information and Sex Offender Registry Requirements Documentation. The consultant hired through this project will help to develop the technical requirements for a solicitation to purchase these systems.
  • Texas released a solicitation for an Automated Fingerprint Identification System and Mobile Identification Maintenance Services. These systems serve as the primary resource for providing AFIS to Texas law enforcement agencies and non-criminal justice practitioners.
  • On January 24th the Pennsylvania State Police released a solicitation for a National Public Safety Broadband Network Planner.  This consultant will help the state determine how to move forward with the implementation of this project and will help the state to coordinate with FirstNet.

Analyst’s Take

Despite the significant drop-off in the number of projects released in December compared to November, the number barely rose in January. Only five additional solicitations were released in January for JPS projects over December.  These projects ran the gamut of technologies from solicitations being released for a mass notification system in Nebraska to Montana’s RFP for an offender tracking system. The singular trend from the month was that of entities continuing to cancel their need for projects, or, in many respects, their need to go out to bid for projects.  These too, however, varied significantly in both location and technology. Kentucky, for instance, made the decision to build out its long awaited court case management and e-filing projects in-house.  New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority determined that it will be moving forward with a pilot project for its bus camera security system project.  The participants in the pilot project were chosen from the RFI respondents and those successfully completing the pilot project will be awarded contracts without a formal solicitation being released.  Funding also continued to hamper many projects and continues to be one of the leading causes of project cancelations.  It remains to be seen whether the large number of canceled projects that has been seen over the last few months will continue, however, vendors are encouraged to seek information about all of the ways entities are considering fulfilling their needs, including whether they may complete the project in-house.  Vendors should also pay special attention to projects that have been on the books for a long time without having ever secured sufficient funding. The longer a project goes un-funded either through successful grant applications or city or county budgets, the less likely it is that it will ever be completed.

GovWin IQ subscribers can read further about these projects in the provided links. Non-subscribers can gain access with a GovWin IQ free trial.


Florida releases FirstNet RFI

The First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) was first envisioned as a federal initiative as part of the 2012 Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act. It was created and charged with the creation of the Nationwide Public Safety Broadband Network (NPSBN); however, each state will be required to create and maintain its own radio and data networks. The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) released numerous RFIs for FirstNet technologies in July 2013, and it now appears that states are following its footsteps.

The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles recently released a request for information (RFI) for Florida’s FirstNet project. The goal of the RFI is to gather information and help the state effectively plan for the deployment of the NPSBN within the state’s borders. The state’s system will be required to “support fully interoperable, mission-critical, 700 MHz LTE wireless broadband data communication for all public safety agencies throughout the state of Florida and those that may respond from outside of the state to assist during times of crisis.” 

Florida consists of 67 counties with a total population exceeding 19 million. All told, there are thousands of public safety and critical infrastructure (i.e. public works and transportation) agencies that will be utilizing the network, and the state is keen to ensure complete coverage. 

Analyst’s Take               

As the federal process moves forward, it is likely that we will begin to see more RFIs and consulting and system solicitations released in the future. Vendors should work to keep on top of not only these projects, but also on top of the steps taken by FirstNet through meetings and legislation. It is also worth noting which entities are in receipt of the Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP) or other relevant grant recipients, as those are most likely to move forward first with these projects. The result of the Florida RFI should be telling for government officials and vendors. Those interested in pursuing any portion of these projects, in Florida or elsewhere, would be well advised to pay close attention.

GovWin IQ subscribers can read further about these projects in the provided links. Non-subscribers can gain access with a GovWin IQ free trial.


What can FirstNet learn from health insurance exchanges?

Health insurance exchanges (HIXs) and FirstNet technology are both statewide initiatives that all states must adhere to. The HIXs are a key component to the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and will serve as an online marketplace for individuals to shop for health insurance plans. FirstNet was established in order to provide first responders with a nationwide, high-speed network to be utilized in an emergency by public safety agencies.

So, what lessons can be learned? Deltek’s Health Care and Social Services Team paired up with the Justice and Public Safety Team to see if any parallels could be drawn from the two very different efforts.

Q: As far as the “opt-in/opt-out” strategy goes, what does this mean for vendors and how should they position themselves? Do vendors profit more from being a nationwide provider or multistate provider?

A: With the HIX initiative, states were given the option to set up their own exchange, utilize the federal HIX (built by CGI), or utilize a federal-state partnership (hybrid model). Factors such as political resistance to the ACA and lack of federal guidance all contributed to states’ shuffle in deciding which direction to take. Only a handful of states were completely on board with developing their own exchange from the beginning; many went back and forth in their decision. For that, vendors should get involved with states early on and pay attention to each one.

Vendors can give themselves a considerable leg up by seeking contracts with the federal model that will be available to states. Vendors who win a contract for federal solutions may be more desirable to states as they decide who will build their solution. CGI won the contract with the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) in December 2012 and has won several contracts to assist states in building out their exchanges. There is an undeniable advantage in being familiar with how the federal system was created, especially since these systems will need to be interoperable with state-level systems to some degree.

FirstNet vendors stand to have more opportunities to bid on projects if more states opt out. The federal government will likely issue several RFPs, giving vendors many large-scale projects to win. However, if a number of states opt out and build a network independently, it would provide vendors even more projects to bid on and potentially win.

It is unclear what the value of the federal government contracts for FirstNet will be, but state projects are often more predictable in terms of cost based on size and existing infrastructure. Also, state projects may be ideal because state systems will have many years of maintenance requirements.

On the other hand, as with HIX contracts, winning a large federal contract can show states that a vendor has the ability to build out something on a large scale, which can improve their chances of possibly winning a state contract. It is for this reason that going after federal business first might be a vendor’s best bet, followed by state projects.

You can read the rest of the question and answers with Deltek Industry Analysis. Not a Deltek subscriber? Click here to learn more about Deltek's GovWin IQ service and gain access to a free trial.


Recapping the National Association of State Technology Directors (NASTD) Conference

As the 2013 National Association of State Technology Directors (NASTD) Conference wrapped up, both vendors and state IT officials may have left Charleston, S.C., with one message pounding in their heads: Watch out for storm clouds on the horizon.
Concerns over cybersecurity, employee retention and the pending roll out of FirstNet – the national public safety broadband initiative – dominated this year’s conversation as NASTD officials packed sessions with multiple speakers on each topic. Each subject has been more or less driven by a combination of current events and long-term trends.
The long-awaited wave of retiring baby boomers is finally underway and wreaking havoc on the ability of federal and state agencies to replace experienced personnel and retain institutional memory. After four years of planning and design, federal officials are getting ready to tally the number of states that will opt in to the federal FirstNet broadband plan and those that will build their own network. States received a wakeup call in October 2012 when nearly 4 million social security numbers and credit card data were hacked from South Carolina’s state government. The cyberattack brought to life the warnings that cybersecurity officials in the public and private sector have been quietly raising for years.
Most of the speakers opted to take an awareness approach and attempted to lay out the dire problems and statistics as plainly as possible; not because they were dodging the issues, but often because there are no obvious solutions to these problems. Besides, that wasn’t necessarily their job. Ultimately, these challenges are going to have to be addressed by the people who were sitting in the audience.
The dominant themes among these kinds of conferences for the past few years has been the recession, budget cuts and figuring out how to maintain service levels with fewer resources. The conversation has begun to shift, but the major themes of NASTD 2013 demonstrated that the end of one crisis often provides state IT officials with just enough breathing room to prepare for the next.
Cybersecurity in the age of cloud adoption and the mobile workforce will be one of the preeminent issues state and local governments deal with over the next 3-5 years. The volume and sophistication of attacks directed at state governments is rising at an alarming pace every year, which means that more state CIOs are going to be expected to pursue aggressive security strategies over the next few budget cycles. More attacks similar to the South Carolina hack will ensure that funding and budgets for these areas are robust. Dedicated network penetration and training for staff to help identify common phishing techniques and personnel security measures were two methods that most security officials stressed at the conference.
In the public safety realm, vendors should be on the lookout for another handful of RFIs dealing with FirstNet development and implementation. Whether a state opts in or out of the federal plan, the NTIA foresees a considerable amount of private sector involvement for this project over the next few years, which is good news for vendors nationwide.
For the full version of the National Association of State Technology Director's Conference Recap, click here (subscription required)

Navy Yard shooting reiterates importance of information-sharing networks

As new details emerge regarding today’s shooting at the Navy Yard in Washington, D.C., we’re seeing many conflicting reports, retractions and clarifications from the press. The intense efforts by the press to verify exactly what happened can also be said for the law enforcement community at this time. Due to the nature and location of the shooting, multiple local and federal agencies are involved in the investigation and protecting those on the ground, which makes an already complicated situation even more complex.

After 9/11, one of the greatest failures reported was the inability for different agencies to communicate. Without the ability to communicate via radios and other traditional methods, coordinating rescue efforts was next to impossible. Significant steps have been taken to ensure the situation never repeats itself and that law enforcement agencies are well-coordinated and more efficient. 

Many agencies upgraded their radio systems post-9/11 to ensure different departments could communicate, and many other agencies have plans to update their systems in the future (Deltek’s database has more than 400 Lead Alerts for radio systems). At this point, it has been reported that the FBI is now leading the Navy Yard investigation, while naval intelligence; the D.C. Metropolitan Police; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF); the U.S. Park Police; U.S. marshals, and other agencies are also likely involved. There have been significant steps taken in the National Capital Region (NCR) and across the country to ensure that interoperability exists across jurisdictions, and based on responses to both this incident and the Boston Marathon bombing (which also involved multiple agencies), the efforts appear to be paying off.

Analyst’s Take

The creation of an effective information-sharing environment (ISE) is key to ensuring the safety of individuals involved in potential mass casualty events that involve multiple jurisdictions. It is of the utmost importance that not only first responders and others on the scene be able to talk to each other through dedicated public safety radio channels, but also that the information they relay is accessible to all agencies involved. This is particularly true when the intelligence community may have information in advance of an incident, such as police receiving complaints or tips of suspicious behavior that could directly relate to a threat. The ability for law enforcement officials at all levels to access comparable information is essential to the effective running of any multi-jurisdictional emergency task force.

Several years after the September 11 terrorist attacks, the FBI opened a portal to the Guardian system, called eGuardian. The portal provides local law enforcement officials the ability to view tips and information gathered by the FBI and also allows the submission of reports of suspicious activity to be shared with those in the bureau. It is essential to the safety of civilians and law enforcement officers that these information-sharing systems continue to be used and expanded, and that additional permissions are added to criminal history reporting systems to allow access to officers from different types of agencies. During future incidents of mass casualties or disasters, it is the hope of many that, through the implementation of the FirstNet initiative, agencies will be able to seamlessly communicate voice information as well as data so that images of shooters and crime scenes can be shared in real time.

In the case of the Navy Yard shooting, access to federal fingerprint databases may also prove necessary. It has been reported that the FBI will be using fingerprints to help identify the deceased shooter. His fingerprints will be run through a single database of fingerprints compiled by and accessible to authorized law enforcement officers at all levels – city, state, federal, tribal and others. The ability for the FBI and other law enforcement officers (LEOs) to access the National Crime Information Center’s fingerprint database could be essential in determining who the shooter was and what his motives were. It could also aid  in capturing any additional gunmen that may exist.

Though the individual pieces of evidence gathered by each agency may seem small at first, the big picture comes into focus once they are all brought together, and information-sharing systems are key to providing the complete view. 

APCO International 2013 Conference Recap

The 2013 Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials (APCO) conference was held August 18-21 at the Anaheim Convention Center in Anaheim, Calif. The conference included educational training sessions on a variety of important topics that are essential to the public safety communications industry. The training sessions covered nine different tracks: Frontline Telecommunicator; Supervision and Leadership Development; Communications Center Management; Regulatory and Legislative Issues; Emergency Preparedness, Response and Situational Awareness; Radio Technologies, LMR, Spectrum Management; Emerging Technologies and Applications; Current Event and Hot Topics; and NG911 and New Response Technology.

Keynote speakers tied their addresses with themes of this year’s conference: connect, innovate and accelerate. Author and adventure-seeker Erik Weihenmayer spoke about the challenges he’s faced as a blind man and the mountains he’s had to climb, literally.

At the 2012 APCO conference, FirstNet was just coming into fruition with a 12-member FirstNet board being announced. Several months after the event, the entire industry took part in a notice of inquiry for the FirstNet technical architecture. Since receiving more than 100 responses last year, FirstNet and its board have made great strides in turning the idea of a national broadband network into a reality. Initial funding has been allocated in the amount of $7 billion, along with $135 million for a new state and local implementation grant program that will be administered by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA).

With a discussion of FirstNet came a lot of sessions on LTE and Land Mobile Radio (LMR). The rise in technological advancements is clear when looking at the features of LMR and LTE, and the provision of new standards and ways to package information with LTE will only increase in the years ahead.

Last month, Deltek and the Industry Council for Emergency Response Technologies (iCERT) published the FY 2014 Justice and Public Safety Market Overview, which provides a comprehensive look into spending within the industry since FY 2010 and a forecast for the upcoming fiscal year. Buried in the deep-dive analysis are some key takeaways that provide a glimpse into what government officials and vendors at APCO 2013 are facing.

GovWinIQ subscribers can  read the full Deltek recap of the APCO 2013 Conference. Non-Subscribers can gain access with a free GovWinIQ trial.