Project 25 Organizational Overview

For more than thirty years, Project 25 (P25) has been developing standards to improve public safety land mobile radio (LMR) interoperability. P25 was prompted by issues that public safety agencies had with the incompatibility of trunking systems, as well as secure voice systems, supplied by the major vendors in the 1980’s time frame. With the approach of digital communications and spectrum efficiency driven by the FCC, the public safety community wanted to ensure new public safety emerging technologies were developed under user-driven, interoperable and open standards that would meet their needs as well as FCC requirements.

Major public safety associations banded together to support P25 under a cooperative negotiation process developed by the Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials International, Inc (APCO), which sequentially was numbered Project 25. Following an initial meeting in September 1989, the Project 25 Steering Committee was formed in 1990 in accordance with an agreement among APCO, the National Association of State Technology Directors (NASTD) and agencies of the Federal Government. This agreement is known as the APCO/NASTD/FED agreement.

P25 has four elements of process and organization:

  • Public safety user-input and public safety user/vendor mediation functions through the P25 Steering Committee
    • The Steering Committee oversees the User Needs Working Group (P25 UNWG), which is responsible for maintaining the Statement of P25 User Needs. This document replaces the original Project 25 Statement of Requirements (P25 SoR).
  • The APCO P25 Interface Committee (APIC), comprised of users and manufacturers working together in the drafting of interoperable standards
  • Vendor-driven standards development provided by the Telecommunications Industry Association’s TR-8 Engineering Committee (TIA TR-8).
  • The Project 25 Compliance Assessment Program (P25 CAP), managed under the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) by the Science & Technology (S&T) Directorate and coordinated by the Office for Interoperability and Compatibility (OIC).

APCO has performed a coordinative role in the P25 program since its inception and served as the project director for nearly two decades. Federal grant support for P25 project management had been provided under the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) until grant support lapsed at the end of the 2010 year. Grant support for the P25 program (minus reimbursement for user travel to TIA/P25 meetings) resumed in the fall of 2014 under the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).  Currently, P25 program support is provided by DHS’ Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA).

Committees, Programs & Groups

Project 25 Steering Committee (P25 SC)

Following an initial meeting in September 1989, the Project 25 Steering Committee was formed in 1990 in accordance with an agreement between the Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials, International (APCO); the National Association of State Technology Directors (NASTD); and agencies of the federal government. This agreement is known as the APCO/NASTD/FED agreement and provided for the creation of APCO/NASTD/FED Project 25.

In 1992, and amended in 1993, the P25 Steering Committee entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA), whereby APCO/NASTD/FED Project 25 agreed to proceed to select common system standards for digital public safety radio communications (the “Standard”) and TIA agreed to provide technical assistance in the development of documentation for the Standard in accordance with TIA’s usual procedures and policies governing standards documentation.

The Project 25 Steering Committee is comprised of four (4) members appointed by APCO, four (4) members appointed by NASTD, five (5) members from various federal agencies that participate in the process, and no more than eight (8) members who represent public safety user organizations that are approved by the steering committee. The committee at its full complement has twenty-one (21) members.

The P25 Steering Committee bylaws and the P25 Steering Committee Member Handbook provide additional information.

Project 25 User Needs Working Group (P25 UNWG)

In addition to its ad hoc working groups, the P25 Steering Committee has an informal advisory group, the P25 UNWG. The UNWG is subordinate to CISA’s Joint SAFECOM- National Council of Statewide Interoperability Coordinators (NCSWIC) Technology Policy Committee. It provides a forum for education, discussion, and input from a broad range of public safety users and subject matter experts on issues related to the Project 25 Suite of Standards. The UNWG has two co‐chairs; one is a member of NCSWIC, the other a member of SAFECOM. A federal representative from CISA provides administrative support and oversight.

The P25 UNWG is responsible for the development and maintenance of the Statement of Project 25 User Needs (SPUN) document, which superseded the original Project 25 Statement of Requirements (P25 SOR) document in 2020. The SPUN document is a compilation of the features and functionality that have been requested by users to be integrated into standards. The UNWG seeks user input for new features and functionality for possible inclusion into the P25 Standard. Not all features and functionality as defined in the SPUN are fully developed into TIA Standards.

The P25 UNWG consists of both member organizations and observers that participate in P25 UNWG meetings. P25 UNWG meetings may be held face to face, typically during P25/TIA meetings, or by teleconference. Both member organizations and observers participate in P25 UNWG meetings on an equal basis, including the submission of documents for consideration at P25 UNWG meetings. The only difference in membership status is that formally voting on P25 UNWG matters is restricted to voting-eligible member organizations.

A P25 UNWG member organization is defined as a local, county, regional, tribal, state, federal entity or associations interested in Project 25.

A P25 UNWG observer is defined as a participant that does not represent an entity as described above. Observers may include but are not limited to:

  • Representatives of P25 hardware or software companies
  • Individuals that have an interest in the sales and distribution of P25 Equipment P25 test laboratories

APCO Project 25 Interface Committee (APIC)

Project 25 required an interfacing function between the Project 25 Steering Committee and the TIA-TR8 Mobile and Personal Private Radio Standards Committee of TIA. The APCO Project 25 Interface Committee (APIC) was created to fulfill this need. APIC is an ad hoc committee of the Private Radio Section (PRS) in the Wireless Communication Division (WCD) of the TIA.

The APIC committee and taskgroup membership is voluntary, free and open to any industry member organization, public safety user or interested parties willing to participate.

Membership is composed of one voting representative from every organization participating in the process. Users are requested to accurately define their needs and requirements. Industry identifies and presents technologies as possible solutions to the user’s requirements.

The APIC taskgroups are not standard formulating groups. The APIC taskgroups do develop documents that are reviewed by users and industry representatives, decisions based on consensus. The APIC document may look like a document from a standard formulating group, but APIC documents are not standards formulating documents. This ‘look-alike’ document development is a strategy so that when the draft document is moved to TIA for formulation into a standard, re-writes to the document are minimized. This interaction between user and industry provides for an iterative process as the proposed feature is detailed with written messages, procedures, and diagrams. Once the taskgroup has completed their work, the work product is provided to the corresponding TIA engineering sub-committee for formulation into a standard according to ANSI approved processes.

TIA-TR8 Engineering Committees

Engineering Committee TR-8 formulates and maintains standards for private radio communications systems and equipment for both voice and data applications. The TR-8 Committee addresses all technical matters for systems and services, including definitions, interoperability, compatibility and compliance requirements.

Much of the TR-8 Committee work relates to the formulation of TIA-102 Series standards for Project 25. Project 25 standards are developed to provide digital voice and data communications systems for public safety applications. The TR-8 committee is also responsible for the formulation of TIA-603 Series standards for analog FM systems, standards for portable radios operating in hazardous locations, TSB-88 wireless coverage guidelines for LMR and broadband systems and TIA-329 standards for communications antennas.

The TIA-TR8 engineering committee has 14 sub-committees; each focusing on a specific aspect of radio communications.

Subcommittee Subcommittee Focus
TR-8.1 Equipment Measurement Procedures
TR-8.3 Encryption
TR-8.4 Vocoders
TR-8.5 Signaling and Data Transmission
TR-8.8 Broadband Data Systems
TR-8.10 Trunking and Conventional Control
TR-8.11 Antenna Systems
TR-8.12 Two Slot TDMA
TR-8.15 Common Air Interface
TR-8.17 RF Exposure
TR-8.18 Wireless Systems Compatibility – Interference and Coverage
TR-8.19 Wireline System Interfaces
TR-8.21 Land Mobile Radio (LMR) Intrinsic Safety (IS) Consideration
TR-8.25 Compliance Assessment

TIA-TR8 offers a unique service for public safety users and their agencies. A public safety user can request a copy of any TIA-102 standard free of charge. A TIA web page, P25 Downloads for Government Entities, describes how to request the TIA-102 standard that might be of interest. There are many published TIA-102 standard documents. A good introductory document is the “TSB-102 Project 25 TIA-102 Documentation Suite Overview”. This document provides a detailed overview (over 100 pages) of the P25/TIA-102 Standards with feature descriptions. This document also provides the titles and a short summary of all the TIA-102 Standard documents.

Project 25 Compliance Assessment Program (P25 CAP)

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.

Congress legislated the P25 Compliance Assessment Program (P25 CAP) to ensure LMR equipment complies with P25 standards for interoperability across suppliers. The P25 CAP is a partnership of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Office for Interoperability and Compatibility, P25 manufacturers, and public safety users of P25 technology.

The P25 CAP is a voluntary testing program for P25 manufacturers. P25 CAP develops Compliance Assessment Bulletins (CAB) that outline specific test cases for P25 equipment. These test cases are taken from published TIA-102 Standards. P25 CAP testing must be performed by an accredited test lab that has been assessed for P25 equipment testing. The P25 equipment manufacturers submit the test case results to DHS OIC for review and posting on the DHS P25 CAP website as Approved (Grant Eligible) Equipment.

Many federal grant programs strongly encourage the purchase of P25 CAP compliant equipment. Details about grants can be found in the SAFECOM Grant Guidance document that is published each year. References to P25 CAP equipment can be found throughout the grant guidance document. In addition, numerous state and local agencies have required in their procurement documents for new system and/or subscriber (user) equipment that equipment submitted for consideration be listed on the Approved (Grant Eligible) Equipment list.

Project 25 Technology Interest Group (PTIG)

The Project 25 Technology Interest Group (PTIG) is a group of individuals and organizations who share the mutual interest of advancing the refinement, development, deployment, and applications of the digital communications technology represented by Project 25 industry standards.

PTIG is an independent, non-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the P25 Suite of Standards and associated products and services. PTIG members include two-way radio communications experts, public safety professionals, and equipment manufacturers. PTIG members recognize the need for, and have a direct stake in, the continued development of the critical communications capabilities represented in the P25 standards.

The PTIG website offers many technical resources and documents, including the current P25 Steering Committee Approved List of Standards, the PTIG ‘Capabilities Guide’, P25 frequently asked questions, white papers, informative videos and more.