Interoperability Resources

Federal Resources

  • Emergency Communications Governance Guide for State, Local, Tribal, and Territorial Officials

    This guide provides public safety professionals, at all levels of government and disciplines, tools to establish and sustain effective emergency communications governance. It describes functional areas applicable to the state, local, tribal and territorial audience regarding interoperability coordination, and outlines governance challenges, best practices, and recommendations.

  • National Interoperability Field Operations Guide (NIFOG) Version 1.6

    The National Interoperability Field Operations Guide (N I F O G) is a technical reference for emergency communications planning and for radio technicians responsible for radios that will be used in disaster response. It includes rules and regulations for use of nationwide and other interoperability channels, tables of frequencies and standard channel names, and other […]

  • SAFECOM – National Interoperability Baseline Survey

    The goal of the National Interoperability Baseline Survey was to create a national and statistically valid snapshot of the capacity for and use of interoperability. This study was designed to assess the five critical elements — governance; policies, practices, and procedures; technology; training and exercises; and usage—that determine an organization’s capacity for interoperability.

  • Establishing Governance to Achieve Statewide Communications Interoperability – A Guide for SCIP Implementation

    This document presents information about the role, system, and operations of statewide governing bodies that are charged with improving communications interoperability across a state.

State and Regional Resources

A Statewide Interoperability Executive Committee, or SIEC, is a statewide governing body committed to managing and implementing the overarching statewide communications interoperability strategy.

SIEC links may change without notice as they are for third-party websites and are provided for informational purposes only. If the link for your state is not working, please let us know at [email protected]. You might also try searching the internet using your state name and SIEC.

VoIP and SIP Trunking

What is VoIP?

VoIP calls can be made on the internet using a VoIP service provider and standard computer audio systems. Alternatively, some service providers support VoIP through ordinary telephones that use special adapters to connect to a home computer network.

How Does It Work?

A VoIP telephone is connected to either a computer or a modem which provides connectivity to the internet.  The user experience is virtually the same when you place or receive a call. You dial just like any other telephone, but your voice is digitized and put into small individual groups of data called packets. These packets of data go over the internet much like email and arrive at their destination where they are reconstituted into voice signals for the listener.

This service can be delivered by a variety of providers including phone companies, cable companies, and virtually any organization offering services as an internet service provider. One interesting thing to note is that the packets do not always travel together.  However, VoIP technology allows for them to arrive together, based on routing, and complete a call as if you were using the telephones of today.

Static vs. Nomadic VoIP

Static VoIP is when a computer or VoIP telephone service is not movable. The service is provided by a cable company, for example, where the telephone does not leave the residence. Nomadic is usually a VoIP phone installed in a portable computer which can be taken with the subscriber. Calls can be made from anywhere in the world there is no need for a “hard wired” phone line, only an internet connection.

Public Safety Challenges of VoIP Services

Traditional phone services associate a particular phone number with a fixed address. Portable interconnected VoIP services enable consumers to take their home or business phone service almost anywhere. Certain VoIP services can be used from internet connection so the location of the caller cannot automatically be determined.

This raises a number of challenges for the emergency services community. Those listed on the FCC’s VoIP and 911 Service page include:

  • VoIP 911 calls may not connect to the 911 call center serving your current location or may improperly ring to the administrative line of the 911 call center, which may not be staffed after hours or by trained 911 operators.
  • VoIP 911 calls may correctly connect to the 911 call center but not automatically transmit the caller’s phone number and/or location information.
  • VoIP customers may need to provide location or other information to their VoIP providers, and update this information each time they change locations for their VoIP 911 service to function properly.
  • VoIP service may not work during a power outage or when the internet connection fails or becomes overloaded.

The FCC has taken action to make sure that emergency calls from these VoIP services will get through to the appropriate public safety authorities. The FCC requires that providers of interconnected VoIP telephone services using the Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) meet Enhanced 911 (E911) obligations. E911 systems automatically provide emergency service personnel with a 911 caller’s call-back number and, in most cases, location information.

Interoperability Standards

Standards & IEPDs

APCO has developed the following standards and documents intended to serve as tools for public safety to communicate in a common manner.

Multi-Functional Multi-Discipline Computer Aided Dispatch (CAD) Minimum Functional Requirements

This standard identifies the minimum functional requirements that a computer aided dispatch (CAD) system shall include, broken down by public safety discipline. Also identified are the optional functional requirements that a CAD system should include. Attachment A: the Unified CAD Functional Requirements (UCADFR) provides a comprehensive list of functional requirements for CAD systems that may be used by public safety communications centers to assist with the request for proposal (RFP) process when they need to conduct a solicitation for a new CAD system or an upgrade to an existing CAD system.

PSC Common Status Codes for Data Exchange

This standard provides a standardized list of status codes that can be used by emergency communications and public safety stakeholders when sharing incident related information. Rather than changing their codes internally, each agency should map their internal codes to the standardized list. The agency is responsible for identifying how to map or translate their agency-specific status codes to the common status codes to ensure a clear understanding of the data that is being passed.

Common Incident Types for Data Exchange

This standard focuses on providing a standardized list of Common Incident Type Codes to facilitate effective incident exchange between Next-Generation 9-1-1 (NG9-1-1) ECCs and other authorized agencies, which is a critical component of public safety interoperability. If an agency is receiving information about an incident, a basic level of incident classification will be required to assure they understand the type of situation. Rather than requiring an agency to change the codes they use internally, each agency should map their internal codes to the standardized list.

Common Incident Disposition Codes for Data Exchange

Disposition codes are used by ECCs and public safety to identify the outcome of an event (incidents). These codes typically involve the use of numeric, alpha or alphanumeric characters that are only meaningful to a specific agency or region. This standard provides a list of common disposition codes for use by PSAPs and public safety when sharing incident information with disparate agencies and authorized stakeholders.

Standard Channel Nomenclature for the Public Safety Interoperability Channels

Standard nomenclature for FCC and NTIA-designated nationwide interoperability channels used for public safety voice communications. The public safety community uses spectrum allocated by the FCC and NTIA in multiple bands that is replete with interoperability channels. It is necessary to develop and employ a common set of channel names so that all responders to an incident know which channel to tune their radios to, as well as the band and primary use for the channel.

NG9-1-1 Emergency Incident Data Document (EIDD)

The EIDD provides a standardized, industry-neutral National Information Exchange Model (NIEM) conformant (XML-based) specifications for exchanging emergency incident information to agencies and regions that implement NG9-1-1 and Internet Protocol (IP) based emergency communications systems. Emergency incident information exchanges supported by the EIDD include exchanges between disparate manufacturers’ systems located within one or more public safety agencies and with other incident stakeholders.

Download the EIDD IEPD (zip file), a NIEM-conformant package that describes the construction and content of the EIDD information exchange. It contains all of the schemas necessary to represent and validate the data content of the exchange. It also contains supplemental artifacts, such as documentation, business rules, search and discovery metadata, and sample instances.

Information Exchange Package Documentation (IEPD) FOR "NG 9-1-1 Emergency Incident Data Document (EIDD)"

The EIDD IEPD is a NIEM-conformant package that describes the construction and content of the EIDD information exchange. It contains all of the schemas necessary to represent and validate the data content of the exchange. It also contains supplemental artifacts, such as documentation, business rules, search and discovery metadata, and sample instances.

Download the Zip file

Project 25

Consensus Standards Embracing Interoperability, Spectrum Efficiency and Cost Economies

Project 25 (P25) develops standards for interoperable land mobile radio (LMR) systems so emergency responders can exchange critical communications across agencies and jurisdictions. P25 standardizes interfaces between the various components of the LMR systems emergency responders’ use.

As a joint effort of APCO and the National Association of State Telecommunications Directors, Project 25 is a long­standing partnership between the public safety communications community, standard development organizations and industry manufacturers. Each group’s end goal is to satisfy the complex and evolving mission-critical communication needs of users for interoperable LMR equipment and systems.

P25 Standardization Process

Users and manufacturers participating in the P25 process develop voluntary, consensus communications standards under the auspices of ANSI-­accredited Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA). The P25 process:

  1. Focuses on the practical realization of the significant benefits inherent to digital radio communications technologies and
  2. Promotes the competitive offering of compliant P25 equipment and systems for effective use by a highly diverse user community on a worldwide basis.

Project 25 is an open, user-driven standardization process, with technical and operational requirements established through the participation of its stakeholders, including public safety practitioners from different countries representing different levels of government. The standards published by TIA establish the basis upon which:

  • Manufacturers develop, implement, and competitively offer P25 equipment and systems
  • Accredited laboratories conduct P25 compliance testing
  • Users specify, procure, and operate P25 radios and communications infrastructure

Project 25 defines system interfaces that are used to build P25 communications networks. TIA-102 standards documents define the messages and procedures required for P25 features to operate across the P25 system interfaces. Project 25 does not define equipment, just the messages and procedures across the P25 interfaces.

P25/TIA-102 system interfaces support multiple air interfaces and wireline interfaces. The wireline interfaces below can be used to support the three different air interfaces.

P25 Air Interfaces
P25 Wireline Interfaces FDMA Conventional FDMA Trunked 2-Slot TDMA Trunked
Fixed Station Interface X
Inter Sub-System Interface X X
Console Sub-System Interface X X
Telephone Interconnect Interface X X X
Data Network Interface X X X
Mobile Data Peripheral Interface X X X
Key Fill Device Interface X X X
Inter Key Management Facility Interface X X X
Network Management Interface No standard development

P25 Resources

Introduction to P25

For a P25 introduction, Codan Radio Communications provides the P25 Radio Systems Training Guide.

Tait Radio supports the Tait Radio Academy. They offer a free web-based Introduction to P25 course.

Technical Resources

The Project 25 Technology Interest Group (PTIG) website has many technical resources and documents, including:

The Capabilities Guide can be useful in understanding which P25 features found in the P25 SOR are standardized in TIA-102 Standards documents. The Guide covers all of the P25 system interfaces; e.g., the Common Air Interface (CAI), the Inter Sub-System Interface (ISSI), etc.

The P25 Supplier Matrix lists the many P25 companies that are part of the overall P25 Community and links to the P25 suppliers.

The TIA TR-8 website covers TIA Engineering Committee TR-8, which formulates and maintains standards for private radio communications systems and equipment for both voice and data applications. It offers TIA-102 standards documents free of charge when requested by a public safety user/agency. If you aren’t a public safety user or agency, TIA provides a link to buy or search for TIA-102 Standard documents.

Interested parties should also review manufacturer websites as they have P25 information.

P25 Support Procedure

If an agency using P25 equipment identifies a product that it suspects does not conform to the P25 Standards, or identifies an interoperability issue between manufacturers for functionality covered by published standards, the agency should document the suspected product or system issue and contact the P25 equipment provider(s) for resolution of the problem. This allows the provider(s) to investigate the problem and resolve possible product, system implementation or configuration errors.

If the problem is determined by the P25 equipment provider(s) to be an issue with the P25 standard, then the equipment provider(s) and agency should submit the issue for investigation by TIA-TR8.25 Compliance Assessment Engineering Sub-Committee. The leadership contacts for this sub-committee can be found on the TIA-TR8 website. Once on that TIA-TR8 webpage, find the pull-down window labeled ‘Learn More About Other Subcommittees, Working Groups and Ad Hocs’. Select ‘TR-8.25 Compliance Assessment’ to  see the description of this committee and the leadership contacts. Forward a complete description of the P25 standards-related issue to the committee leadership by email.  Email addresses are provided by selecting the leadership contact name.



What Is ASAP?

The Automated Secure Alarm Protocol (ASAP) is a national service that is the next generation for the processing of information from alarm monitoring stations needing emergency dispatch.

Launched in 2011 as a public-private partnership, ASAP is designed to increase the efficiency and reliability of emergency electronic signals from monitoring companies to emergency communications centers. ASAP uses ANSI standard protocols developed cooperatively by APCO International and The Monitoring Association. Using the ASAP service, critical information about life safety events is delivered digitally directly to the CAD system in seconds through the Nlets nationwide public-safety network. The use of data communications ensures that complete and accurate information is transmitted to the ECC every time.

The ASAP Standard

Alarm Monitoring Company to Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP) Computer-Aided Dispatch (CAD) Automated Secure Alarm Protocol

The Automated Secure Alarm Protocol (ASAP) is a successfully proven data exchange that has demonstrated efficiency and effectiveness in streamlining alarm notifications between alarm monitoring companies and public safety Emergency Communications Centers since 2009. This standard is the product resulting from the joint effort by APCO and The Monitoring Association (TMA) formerly known as the Central Station Alarm Association (CSAA).

Updates include the renaming the introduction of schema version 3.4 including new data fields and message types available to the users of this standard and critical to the mission of public safety. An emphasis on address verification/synchronization between the alarm companies and the ECCs is included. New alarm event types are also introduced as well as methods to indicate that an alarm has been verified positively as a real-life crime, fire, or emergency medical event.

Connected ECCs and Alarm Companies

A growing list of CAD platforms have ASAP interfaces and the number of ECCs of all sizes gaining benefit from the ASAP service is steadily growing. The alarm monitoring industry is committed to ASAP, with local, regional and national monitoring companies connected to the service. Seamless deployment is realized through the use of standardized technology and an experienced ASAP technical team.

Cybersecurity Resources

This website, along with other cybersecurity offerings, seeks to assist APCO members in identifying and mitigating the risks from cybersecurity incidents. Our primary focus is to provide information that should assist with detecting, analyzing, and responding to incidents.

APCO Resources

APCO Perspectives

  • Why Cybersecurity Matters

    When implementing new systems and networks, ECCs should always consider cybersecurity measures in the initial plans in order to ensure that sensitive data is secured.

  • Cybersecurity Is Everyone’s Responsibility

    It is important that every agency or organization develop guidelines on establishing effective cybersecurity strategies to include training, awareness, and incident response programs.

  • Broadband Implications for the PSAP: Cybersecurity

    Cybersecurity presents one of the most complex challenges for emergency communications centers in a broadband environment. This section of APCO’s P43 Report discusss the current and future threat, cybersecurity concepts, findings and high level recommendations.

Cybersecurity Committee

Federal Resources

US Department of Homeland Security / Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency

  • CISA Creates Webpage for Apache Log4j Vulnerability

    The Department of Homeland Security Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (DHS CISA) recently created a website to track and respond to the active, widespread exploitation of a critical remote code execution vulnerability (CVE-2021-44228) affecting Apache Log4j software library versions 2.0-beta9 to 2.14.1.

  • Department of Homeland Security Cybersecurity Resources

    The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) leads the nation’s strategic and unified work to strengthen the security, resilience, and workforce of the cyber ecosystem to protect critical services.

  • Stop. Think. Connect

    The Stop.Think.Connect. Campaign is a national public awareness campaign aimed at increasing the understanding of cyber threats and empowering the American public to be safer and more secure online.

  • United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team (US-CERT)

    US-CERT offers mailing lists and feeds for a variety of products including the National Cyber Awareness System and Current Activity updates. The National Cyber Awareness System was created to ensure that you have access to timely information about security topics and threats.

  • CISA Emergency Communications Resources

    CISA ensures public safety and national security and emergency preparedness communities can seamlessly and securely communicate during steady state and emergency operations to keep America safe, secure, and resilient.

  • National Terrorism Advisory System (NTAS)

    In 2011, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) replaced the color-coded alerts of the Homeland Security Advisory System (HSAS) with the National Terrorism Advisory System (NTAS), designed to more effectively communicate information about terrorist threats by providing timely, detailed information to the American public

  • National Cybersecurity Awareness Month

    National Cybersecurity Awareness Month (NCSAM), in October, raises awareness about the importance of cybersecurity across our nation, ensuring that all Americans have the resources they need to be safer and more secure online.

  • Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency Catalog

    CISA leads the nation’s strategic and unified work to strengthen the security, resilience, and workforce of the cyber ecosystem to protect critical services and American way of life. The CISA Services Catalog is a single resource that provides users with access to information on services across all of CISA’s mission areas that are available to […]

Communications Security, Reliability, and Interoperability Council (CSRIC)

  • Communications Security, Reliability and Interoperability Council (CSRIC)

    The Communications Security, Reliability and Interoperability Council’s (CSRIC) mission is to provide recommendations to the FCC to ensure, among other things, optimal security and reliability of communications systems, including telecommunications, media, and public safety.

  • CSRIC WG7: Cybersecurity Workforce Development Best Practices Recommendations

    The mission of the Communications Security, Reliability and Interoperability Council (CSRIC) is to provide recommendations to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to ensure, among other things, optimal security and reliability of communications systems. Working Group 7 of the CSRIC V is specifically chartered to provide recommendations for the CSRIC’s consideration regarding any actions the FCC […]

  • CSRIC WG6: Best Practices Recommendations for Hardware and Software Critical to the Security of the Core Communications Network

    This CSRIC V Working Group 6: Secure Hardware and Software – Security-by-Design (Working Group 6) was formed and tasked with developing voluntary recommendations and best practices to enhance the security of hardware and software in the core public communications network. In a separate report in September of 2016, the Working Group provided voluntary mechanisms to […]

  • CSRIC WG6: Secure Hardware and Software: Security-by-design

    CSRIC V WG6 was tasked with developing voluntary recommendations and best practices to enhance the security of hardware and software used in communications critical infrastructure. The working group was also tasked with a second deliverable, to develop a voluntary attestation framework that could be used by companies to demonstrate the success of the recommendations/best practices.

  • CSRIC WG5: Cybersecurity Information Sharing: Information Sharing Barriers

    CSRIC V Working Group 5 (WG5) is currently tasked with identifying and assessing perceived technical, legal, financial, consumer/market, operational, and/or organization impediments to cyber threat information sharing and/or the implementation of the prospective use cases

  • CSRIC WG5: Cybersecurity Information Sharing

    Working Group 5 (WG 5), Cybersecurity Information Sharing, was tasked with developing recommendations to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC or the Commission) to encourage sharing of cybersecurity information between companies in the communications sector. This report represents the culmination of multiple work streams highlighting the robust level of information sharing that is already underway within […]

Department of Justice (DOJ) / Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)

  • FBI: Cyber Crime

    The FBI is the lead federal agency for investigating cyber attacks and intrusions. Learn more about what you can do to protect yourself from cyber criminals, how you can report cyber crime, and the Bureau’s efforts in combating the evolving cyber threat.

  • Common Scams & Crimes: Internet Fraud

    Frequent instances of Internet fraud include business fraud, credit card fraud, internet auction fraud, investment schemes, Nigerian letter fraud, and non-delivery of merchandise.

  • Scams & Safety on the Internet

    Learn tips for protecting your computer, the risk of peer-to-peer systems, the latest e-scams and warnings, Internet fraud schemes, and more.

  • FBI Internet Crime Complaint Center IC3

    The mission of the Internet Crime Complaint Center is to provide the public with a reliable and convenient reporting mechanism to submit information to the Federal Bureau of Investigation concerning suspected Internet-facilitated criminal activity and to develop effective alliances with law enforcement and industry partners. Information is analyzed and disseminated for investigative and intelligence purposes […]

  • 2020 Internet Crime Report

    The 2020 Internet Crime Report includes information from 791,790 complaints of suspected internet crime—an increase of more than 300,000 complaints from 2019—and reported losses exceeding $4.2 billion. The report includes COVID-19 scam and state-specific statistics.

National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)

Laws Related to Cybersecurity

Other Resources

Project 43: Broadband Implications for the PSAP

Leverage Existing Technologies and Prepare for Evolving Broadband Communications

The goal of Project 43 is to help public safety telecommunicators, PSAPs, PSAP directors, 9-1-1 authorities, elected and appointed officials, and others in the public safety community better leverage existing technology capabilities and prepare for the evolving broadband communications technologies that will impact PSAP operations and, at the same time, improve support to field responders.

This report is the outgrowth of the work of nearly 80 member practitioners assisted by APCO professional staff arrayed across several working groups focused on the following major topical areas: operations, governance, cybersecurity, technology, training, and workforce. Each working group consisted of experienced public safety and industry professionals who met regularly over the course of a year.

What Does Interoperable Mean in the Real World?

By Steve Leese

In the field of public safety, interoperability has several specific meanings that apply to the tools used in our profession.  For instance, fire apparatus hose fittings are commonly standardized so that departments from different jurisdictions can provide mutual aid effectively.  Merriam Webster defines interoperability as the “ability of a system to work with or use the parts or equipment of another system.”  This article will focus primarily on communication tools such as land mobile radio (LMR) and computer aided dispatch (CAD) in addition to illustrating the overall need for an interoperability-based approach to any communications technologies intended for use by public safety.

Emergency incidents can occur anywhere, and do not respect jurisdictional borders.  When this happens, responders from more than one agency have to respond and work together.  Agencies set themselves up for failure and put lives at risk when interoperability is not carefully considered and built into the purchase and implementation of equipment and programs they utilize to communicate, both with the public and with other agencies.

Providing a few real-world examples of problems that public safety faces today may help illustrate how vitally important interoperability is.  The following examples are drawn from a career that has spanned over thirty years as a first responder and a director of two Public Safety Answering Points (PSAPs).

When I was a law enforcement officer, our jurisdiction, like many across the country, was bordered on three sides by another jurisdiction that had a disparate LMR system.  Some LMR systems in the United States are typically referred to as proprietary, meaning that they do not talk to systems of a different brand or frequency range.  Our jurisdiction had such a system, as did those that bordered and responded with us.  During an incident that required multi-jurisdictional response, our only solution was to partner with another patrol vehicle from the neighboring agency and manually relay the necessary information over the air to the disparate system.  This occurred frequently and had the undesirable side effects of taking two scarce patrol units away from the primary task of responding to the incident.  In addition, because communications were relayed, it was easy to miss important information.  This costs time and efficiency and it can put both the responders and the public at risk.

Serving as a communications director, my centers faced a similar challenge to the previous example.  What made it different, was that the officers in the jurisdictions that commonly worked together across a jurisdictional border personally purchased commercial cellphones with a push to talk feature.  While this allowed them to communicate with each other, their solution had many shortcomings: they did not connect to our recording system in the PSAP; they were not monitored so if the responders were using personal phones instead of department radios to communicate emergency information, the communications center would not know about the emergency traffic; and the handsets were not mission critical.  While this solution was problematic at best, the fact that responders tolerated these shortcomings illustrates the level of frustration public safety experiences with the inability to seamlessly connect.

My final case in point is again derived from my time as a communications director.  Because public safety responder jurisdictions sometime overlap PSAP boundaries it became necessary to implement a CAD to CAD solution to dispatch fire department incidents.  When the agencies developed the plan everything seemed simple because both PSAPs purchased CAD from the same vendor, and had the same version running on the same type of equipment.  Imagine our surprise when the vendor required both PSAPs to purchase very expensive interfaces for our CADs to exchange information.  Of course, there were also expensive maintenance contracts for the interfaces every year after we made the purchases.  Ultimately the only options were to pay the price, or spend literally millions of dollars to change vendors.

These examples are not unique.  Every day public safety officials and responders deal with similar issues, and it strains the operations and puts lives in danger.  Less important, but significant, are the burdensome costs associated with connecting disparate systems.  When consumers are faced with an unexpected or undesirable cost, they turn to a competitor.  Public safety agencies don’t have that luxury.  They are typically locked into contracts that package multiple services with proprietary solutions, making a change to a competitor a major expense.

These technology challenges seemed difficult to overcome years ago, but today it is common to see inexpensive commercially available devices that can transfer multimedia seamlessly to disparate devices on different platforms.  If this technology and capability is in the hands of the consumer today, why can’t public safety benefit in a similar way?

The vision for seamless interoperability that I’m trying to explain is described in the APCO P43 report on “Broadband Implications for the PSAP” in the following way:

Fully interoperable voice and data communications allow the units who arrive first on scene to provide up to date, real-time information to additional units responding to the scene regardless of which agency they are from. PSAPs, though they have different CAD and radio systems, can communicate and receive common updates via interoperable, standardized CAD interfaces.

Pushback to this vision demonstrates how entrenched we are in the sometimes regressive traditional thinking.  Approaches that worked in the past will no longer work today.  Engaging the public safety community to help define the problem and providing innovative solutions is essential.  Public safety was not somehow put in this precarious position overnight.  These concerns are not new, and have been real-life concerns for several decades.  Entire careers have started and ended with the attitude that this problem is too large to ever overcome.

While FirstNet offers promise on the responder communications front, and solutions are being deployed to address much of what has been problematic, challenges still remain for the full emergency communications ecosystem, including LMR and 9-1-1 systems.  APCO, with the help of the US Department of Homeland Security and industry partners, will continue to work to fix interoperability problems for LMR.  However, it is critical that we take the same approach to Next Generation 9-1-1 and ensure that it includes requirements for interoperability at all levels.[1]  From the ability of the public to send multimedia communications to PSAPs, to the ability of PSAPs to process and share that data with each other – regardless of vendor, equipment, and jurisdiction – we cannot afford to ignore the importance of interoperability in this realm.  Working together, the public safety community, technology designers, manufacturers, network and service providers, and fellow standards development organizations can assure that both citizens and responders are made safer by addressing this important concern.   As our industry moves toward Next Generation 9-1-1 and IP based systems and services, now is the time to learn from the past and move forward in a positive direction.  Anything less is a disservice to our profession and the public we serve.

[1] APCO President Martha Carter recently authored a member message with an update on efforts to achieve fully interoperable NG9-1-1, including questions to consider asking of NG9-1-1 equipment and service providers.


Steve began work with APCO International in 2013, and served as the Director of Communications Center and 9-1-1 Services until 2020.  Steve has worked in public safety for 34 years as a Telecommunicator and Police Officer in Dearborn, MI, Emergency Management Director, and 9-1-1 Director in Huron and Eaton County MI.  Steve is a University of Michigan graduate, a Marine Corps veteran having served as a Military Police Sergeant, and Presidential Guard at the White House.  Steve is a former President of the Michigan Communication Directors Association.

About the TabletopX Blog

A “Tabletop Exercise,” often shortened as “TTX,” is a discussion-based exercise frequently used by emergency planners. Led by a facilitator using a planned scenario, TTX participants describe the actions they would take, and the processes and procedures they would follow. The facilitator notes the players’ contributions and ensures that exercise objectives are met. Following the exercise, the facilitator typically develops an after-action report and conducts a debrief discussion during which players and observers have an opportunity to share their thoughts, observations, and recommendations from the exercise without assigning fault or blame.

Many of the attributes of a TTX are the same we seek to promote in the discussion generated from our blog posts. The goal is to capitalize on the shared experiences and expertise of all the participants to identify best practices, as well as areas for improvement, and thus achieve as successful a response to an emergency as possible.

TabletopX blog posts are written by APCO’s Government Relations team and special guests.