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MEMA Home > Programs> Communication> News > SCIP Monthly Update June 2009

SCIP Monthly Update June 2009


June 12, 2009


State’s Interoperability Vision

The State of Maine will have a firmly established, formally managed and maintainable communications environment, based on technology, protocols, training and usage, that will provide seamless communications capability to all emergency management, first responder, and response support organizations at the local, regional and State levels, enabling them to exchange information via voice and data means, as required by standard NIMS response procedures, to provide effective, coordinated and timely all hazards response to our citizens.

State Interoperability Communications Coordinator

The Communication Survey results: The results can be accessed on the MEMA website: Go to programs and then Communications. [ADD LINK]

This is how you rated the Interoperability Continuum in your own communities.

Preliminary results of the Survey question #1 –

Data Capabilities:

  • Excellent: 07%
  • Needs Improvement: 32%
  • Average: 24%


  • We use IMC and capable of data with other agencies if necessary
  • Near non existent/None
  • We exchange data by email and/or phone.
  • It's good within the County, but non-existent beyond County lines
  • We have our own IT Department and again the State moves in directions without communications with others to get input
  • The Fire Service currently has no data equipment being used in vehicles, Data transfer is only on web now. Money issues for MDT and training, justification hard to sell
  • We would like a system like Salamander
  • We find between Fire, Police, and other organizations that sharing is difficult at best. Law Enforcement is O.K.

Maine Interoperable Communications Committee (MICC)

The MICC will be meeting in June to finalize the Charter and discuss future activities.

Training & Exercises

REMINDER - ALL-Hazards Type III Communications Unit Leader (COML) Class response. This class is scheduled for June 23-25 in Waterville.

Contact Steven Mallory at MEMA (624-4476) for questions or for more info

Where can I learn more about Interoperability?

NEWS from our March Workshops……

Here are six concerns from the County Workshops that were held in March. I selected comments that were mentioned from the majority of the Counties...

Top six (6) Concerns:

  • Governance: Government has issues between towns, with money and giving up control issues
  • SOP: Written P&P need to be developed, refined, and adopted
  • Voice Tech: Coverage OK but not 100% Dead spots are present and are likely to grow when narrow banding is implemented
  • Data Cap: It's good within the County, but non-existent beyond County lines
  • Training: We need more between agencies
  • Usage: We need to do more exercises so there are not enough crises to keep us sharp

Five tips for COML Training:

  1. When working with Federal Agencies have a copy of the National Interoperability Field Operations Guide (NIFOG)
  2. Cell phones are convenient, but too unreliable, make a plan.
  3. Going narrowband doesn't mean you have to go digital
  4. Have a budget that includes replacement lifecycle for equipment
  5. Communications for a planned event is very different than an ad-hoc situation.


If you haven’t received a State of Maine Conops Disk please contact Steven Mallory at (207)624-4476 or or e-mail

National Interoperability Field Operations Guide (NIFOG)

In order to assist Federal and non-Federal agencies and potential users of the mutual aid channels, the Department of Homeland Security has published the National Interoperability Field Operations Guide (NIFOG) (see ). It contains an organized listing of the national mutual aid channels as well as additional information to assist users in the field. The general use of a frequency is provided along with the NPSTC Channel Identification, the frequency of operation and any other parameter specifications. The NIFOG is available by contacting DHS's Office of Emergency Communications at

The channel identifications were determined by the National Public Safety Telecommunications Council (NPSTC) as part of the FCC rulemaking process. The Report of the Committee can be viewed at$file/Calsiec021907CNTGReport.pdf. See also An alternative version of the mutual aid channel listing is also available on the NPSTC web page at


The goal of the MSCommNet project is to rebuild the state radio communications system. The rebuild will provide all public safety entities an opportunity to leverage the new radio architecture and enhancements.

This is a 3-year project, currently one year behind due to contractual issues. The first two items that will be worked on are:

  1. Frequency Coordination and
  2. Property Acquisition

Part of the project will be to decommission 75 radio sites. The new sites will be more robust and provide security, power supplies, backup capabilities, and 24 x 7 monitoring.

The conversion to MSCommNet will be to a VHF Digital IP System. Every tower will be part of “RegionNet” which will provide radio users backward compatibility. Current radio users will continue to be able to communicate on the new infrastructure.

OIT will be working with all tower users to develop Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) to ensure seamless conversion in 2013.

The costs for utilizing these towers will be $99.16 month; which covers leases, propane, inspections, batteries and support.

If more entities utilize the towers, the expectation is that the monthly rate will decrease. If fewer users participate, the cost is expected to increase. All towers will be integrated via a microwave system that will allow a greater interoperability of the network.

Users must have an MOU to utilize a frequency, if you do not have a license in your entities name; the exception to this is the CONOPS plan. For emergencies; CONOPS frequencies are available at the request of the Incident Commander to MEMA.

See CONOPS Quick Reference Guide at:

OIT is working on development of technology contracts that can be leveraged by all. Currently the only contract in place is with Maine Radio. Information can be found at: .

OIT will be developing a roll-out plan in the near future. This will be shared with County EMA’s.

For more information regarding MSCommNet, please see the OIT website at:

LINE A – Issues

On May 13, 2009 the FCC Public Notice on VHF-UHF Freq on US Canada Border, click on this link to find out more:

What are the components of a truly interoperable communications system, and what are the barriers to creating one?

There are a variety of challenges to interoperability: some are technical, some financial, and some stem from human factors such as inadequate planning and lack of awareness of the real importance of interoperability.

According to a report published in February 2003 by the National Task Force on Interoperability, the emergency response community views the following as the key issues hampering emergency response wireless communications:

  • Incompatible and aging communications equipment;
  • Limited and fragmented budget cycles and funding;
  • Limited and fragmented planning and coordination;
  • Limited and fragmented radio spectrum;
  • And limited equipment standards.

Interoperable Technologies Must be Used to be Learned

It’s hard to know what you’re missing if you never experienced it to begin with. This is the challenge facing many of the Nation’s emergency responders serving on the frontlines. As a communications leader in Maine, I see the importance of practitioners needing to use interoperable technologies and apply best practices every day.

Regularly applying interoperable technologies and methodologies will help users to improve communication across disciplines and jurisdictions when a large-scale event or emergency occurs. When a major incident like a natural disaster or terrorist attack takes place, responders who use the interoperable technologies frequently will deploy the necessary interoperable tools more readily and successfully.



Steven Mallory


Last update: 07/20/10