Developing a National Emergency Communications Plan

The Department of Homeland Security Office of Emergency Communications (OEC) released the first ever National Emergency Communications Plan (NECP) on July 31, 2008. This plan is and will continue to be a joint initiative by public safety responders at the local, state and federal levels and the private sector.

Emergency communications is always one of the most important aspects of effective incident/emergency management and has been documented as such in every major disaster. The NECP promotes a strategy to insure effective emergency communications for emergency responders and government officials in the event of natural disasters, acts of terrorism, and other man-made disasters.

The NECP has acknowledged the critical importance of partnerships across jurisdictions and agencies and in order to achieve this goal, the development of the NECP is a result of such collaboration among Federal departments and agencies; State, Local and Tribal governments; emergency first responders; and the private sector.

OEC aligned the NECP with existing initiatives and recommendations for improving emergency communications, including the Statewide Communication Interoperability Plans (SCIPs) and the National Communications Capability Report. The NECP also aligns with and is supportive of the National Incident Management System (NIMS) and the National Response Framework (NRF).

As legislated by Congress, the NECP includes a set of specific and common goals accompanied by performance measures that help to guide all organizations and levels of government which all agencies are expected to achieve a minimum level of emergency communications capabilities and a date by which all are expected to achieve that minimum level. These goals and dates were developed in close collaboration with public safety and are consistent with the congressional direction.

Most importantly, the NECP is a "National Plan" not a Federal plan that will serve as a collaborative communications roadmap for all agencies, organizations, responders, governments and the private sector. For the first time, there is a tool that can assist in the facilitation of local, tribal, state and federal communications assets in time of emergency.

This is the first edition of the NECP and in coming years, OEC, with its partners, will continue to conduct collaborative discussions and incorporate recommended changes and updates into future versions. The NECP will be a living document and will continually be enhanced with the assistance of the public safety community and the private sector.

The NECP is by no means perfect or finished, but it is an excellent first step for the effective management of future emergency incidents. I urge everyone to become familiar with the NECP and begin to use it as a way to begin to plan locally and achieve the goals outlined. As a member of public safety and the SAFECOM Executive Committee Chair, I would like to thank OEC and the leadership of Director Chris Essid for the extent by which they utilized public safety in the development of the NECP.

About the Plan from the Office of Emergency Communications:

About the National Emergency Communications Plan
The National Emergency Communications Plan (NECP) is a strategic plan that sets goals and identifies key national priorities to enhance governance, planning, technology, training and exercises, and disaster communications capabilities. The NECP provides recommendations, including milestones, to help emergency response providers and relevant government officials make measurable improvements in emergency communications over the next three years.

NECP Goals
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) defined a series of goals that establish a minimum level of interoperable communications and a deadline for Federal, State, local, and tribal agencies to achieve that minimum level. These goals provide an initial set of operational targets that will be further defined by the Office of Emergency Communications (OEC) through a process that engages Federal, State, and local governments; the private sector; and emergency responders.

Goal 1: By 2010, 90 percent of all high-risk urban areas designated within the Urban Area Security Initiative (UASI) are able to demonstrate response-level emergency communications[1] within one hour for routine events involving multiple jurisdictions and agencies.

Goal 2: By 2011, 75 percent of non-UASI jurisdictions are able to demonstrate response-level emergency communications within one hour for routine events involving multiple jurisdictions and agencies.

Goal 3: By 2013, 75 percent of all jurisdictions are able to demonstrate response-level emergency communications within three hours of a significant event as outlined in national planning scenarios.

The vision of the NECP is to ensure emergency response personnel at all levels of government and across all disciplines can communicate as needed, on demand, and as authorized, through improvements in communications operability, interoperability, and continuity nationwide. OEC welcomes ongoing feedback on the NECP. To provide your comments, please click the link below. This will launch your e-mail program, which will allow you to send an e-mail message to OEC. Please do not include any personally identifiable information with your comments.

NECP General Feedback may be sent to oec@hq.dhs.gov.

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