One of our regular readers, Katie Stefanich, recently submitted an article and press release that she thought would be of interest to the Continuity Compliance community — we agree with her and would add that the report referenced below should become part of your organization’s library of information relating to your business continuity and crisis management activities.

“[After the] Con Agra building explosion, many agencies requested to respond, but not all agencies knew how to find or obtain a patch to the used radio channels.” 

“First responders unable to coordinate with each other delayed services.” 

These are just two of the emergency communications challenges faced by first responders captured in CDW Government, Inc.’s 2009 Emergency Communications Report.  

Emergency communications improvement is imperative:  Nearly 30 percent of public-safety communications professionals said they experienced a communications challenge in the last year that hampered a response effort, according to CDW-G’s survey of more than 200 state and local public-safety communications professionals.  

In the report, CDW-G, a leading provider of technology solutions to governments, examines emergency communications progress and remaining gaps, and benchmarks progress toward meeting the goals of the Department of Homeland Security National Emergency Communications Plan (NECP), which set goals for demonstrating response-level emergency communications during routine and significant events involving multiple jurisdictions and agencies. 

More than a year after publication of the NECP in July 2008, just half of U.S. public-safety communications professionals are familiar with the plan. Yet despite low awareness, CDW-G found that once public-safety communicators were briefed on the NECP goals, an overwhelming majority – 93 percent – said the NECP has the potential to address their communications issues – and that a majority will meet or expect to meet the NECP’s goals on time.  

Please find the press release about CDW-G’s Emergency Communications Report below.  For a copy of the full report or to discuss the findings with a CDW-G public-safety communications expert, please do not hesitate to contact Katie at  kstefanich@okco.com . 

CDW-G Report:  Awareness of the DHS National Emergency Communications Plan (NECP) is Low,

but Its Promise is High 

“Just half of public-safety communications professionals were familiar with the NECP, yet when briefed, almost all believe it could address their communications challenges.”

Vernon Hills, ILL – CDW Government, Inc. (CDW-G), a leading source of Information Technology (IT) solutions to governments and educators, today released its 2009 Emergency Communications Report: Awareness and Progress Toward the National Communication Plan. 

The report benchmarks progress toward meeting the goals outlined in the Department of Homeland Security National Communications Plan (NECP) and identifies key challenges and highlights lessons learned.

While only half of public-safety communications professionals were familiar with the NECP prior to CDW-G’s survey, once briefed on its goals, an overwhelming majority – 93 percent – said the NECP has the potential to address their communications issues.  Emergency communications improvement is imperative:  28 percent said they experienced a communications challenge in the last year that hampered a response effort, and 61 percent said the ability to achieve and sustain seamless communications across jurisdictions and agencies is their No. 1 challenge to providing timely and effective emergency services. 

The NECP, which was published in 2008, recommends a multi-faceted approach to strengthening emergency communications capabilities nationwide, focusing on technology, coordination, governance, planning and training at all levels of government.  It sets the following goals:  

  • By 2010, 90 percent of all high-risk urban areas designated within the Urban Areas Security Initiative (UASI) are able to demonstrate response-level emergency communications within one hour for routine events involving multiple jurisdictions and agencies
  • 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
  • By 2013, 75 percent of all jurisdictions are able to demonstrate response-level emergency communications within three hours, in the event of a significant incident as outlined in national planning scenarios 

Despite low initial awareness of the NECP, public-safety communications professionals indicate the goals are achievable.  Seventy-four percent said they will meet the 2013 target timeline for demonstrating response level emergency communications for significant incidents.  Still, many agencies and jurisdictions do not have formal plans to meet the NECP goals.  Just 46 percent of respondents familiar with the NECP said they have a written plan in place to meet the NECP goals.  

“The NECP has the potential to address public-safety communications problems, but to be successful, all jurisdictions and agencies must embrace the NECP goals and work to achieve them,” said CDW-G Vice President Bob Kirby.  “Every day, communities across the United States are affected by communications challenges – inability to communicate across agencies, across jurisdictions, during routine events and during significant incidents.  Formal plans to meet the NECP goals, backed by training, cross-agency and cross-jurisdiction collaboration, and technology infrastructure, can speed emergency response and save lives.”  

CDW-G’s national online survey, conducted during August 2009, collected responses from 210 state and local emergency communications professionals in 41 states.  The margin of error for the total sample is ±6.76 percent at a 95 percent confidence level.   

For a copy of the complete CDW-G Emergency Communications Report, please visit http://newsroom.cdwg.com/features/feature-10-26-09.html.

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