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Is a Storm Brewing in Your Cloud?

Posted on September 29, 2020 by John Chiaramonte

The COVID-19 global pandemic has thrust cloud computing into the spotlight, with everything from primary education, to business meetings, to government operations moving “into the cloud.” We’ve highlighted how the benefits of cloud-based applications are clear: lower total cost of ownership, enhanced scalability and flexibility, and the ability to shift the maintenance responsibility to the service provider. Cloud-based applications are easy to update, are available anywhere network connectivity exists, and often are more secure and reliable than a premises-based solution.

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The Critical Role of Standards for NG911 Implementation

Posted on April 19, 2019 by John Chiaramonte

Throughout the design, development, and implementation of Next Generation 911 (NG911), one fundamental requirement has remained true: to achieve interoperability across the entire public safety communications ecosystem, NG911 implementations must adhere to a standard. For many years now, the 911 community has agreed that the NG911 standard is the National Emergency Number Association’s (NENA) Detailed Functional and Interface Standards for the NENA i3 Solution[1], commonly known as "NENA i3."

The first version of the standard, NENA 08-003, was ratified in June 2011. Since then, the standard was renumbered as NENA-STA-010.2-2016 when it was last updated in 2016. Later this year, NENA plans to revise the standard yet again expects American National Standards Institute (ANSI) ratification once again.

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How to Lessen the Impact of Public Safety Vendor Consolidations

Posted on September 27, 2018 by John Chiaramonte

A baseball adage says that when a pitcher throws you a curveball, you hit it to the opposite field. But what do you do when the pitcher hurls a fastball right at your head?

The public safety version of this scenario occurs whenever system or technology vendors consolidate, either through merger or acquisition, an action that often places their customers in a very precarious position. Agencies immediately wonder whether their already deployed systems will be supported in the same manner as before the consolidation.

Often, they are not, in part because some number of administrative, engineering and service personnel typically leave a company after a consolidation.

Worse, systems and equipment often are eliminated in the aftermath of a consolidation, usually because of product redundancies. Preparing for system and equipment end of life always is challenging, but it becomes terrifying when it occurs suddenly and with no warning. Public safety agencies are in the business of saving lives and that becomes significantly more difficult when communications systems are rendered inoperable because replacement components or maintenance services cannot be procured—because they no longer exist.  

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Records Are Meant To Be Broken, Right? DDoS Attacks Are a Concern to 911

Posted on March 6, 2018 by John Chiaramonte

Computer and cybersecurity nerds across the internet are marveling at last week’s report of a record-breaking distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack aimed at a software development website called GitHub that caused intermittent access outages.

For those unfamiliar with DDoS attacks, they are intended to block public access to an online service by flooding it with junk data or repeated requests from multiple, and often compromising sources, thereby rendering legitimate access impossible. DDoS attacks are increasing in quantity, breadth, and sophistication. Some attacks have gone as far as demanding a ransom to terminate the attack.

Cyber attacks are on the rise, and public safety MUST protect against them

As we talk with our public safety communications clients about implementing a statewide emergency services IP network (ESInet) and / or Next Generation Core Services (NGCS), we cannot stress enough that protecting these Internet Protocol (IP)-based, broadband-enabled networks is paramount. Government DDoS attacks  have already caused many detrimental and unforeseeable effects on emergency response. Recently, the Multi-State Information Sharing and Analysis Center (MS-ISAC) released their 2018 SLTT Government Outlook which, not surprisingly, highlighted its position that the “sophistication of malware, cyber threat actors, and tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTPs) will continue to increase.”

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Apple Announces a Promising Step Toward Solving 911's Wireless Location Challenges

Posted on January 26, 2018 by John Chiaramonte

Sensational headlines criticizing the 911 industry’s inability to accurately and quickly locate emergency callers abound, like this recent one in the Wall Street Journal: “Why Uber Can Find You but 911 Can’t.” This is one of the industry’s most intractable issues—as TV host John Oliver said in 2016, “There doesn’t appear to be a simple, satisfying answer,” to why smartphone apps provide much better location information than that received by 911 centers.

Those within the industry understand the problem: 80 percent or more of all 911 calls are made using a wireless device, and such calls are routed based on Phase I data, which is the location of the cellular tower. More accurate “Phase II” data can become available (usually) in 25-35 seconds of the call being received by the 911 center, but that depends on multiple factors, including signal strength/distortion, geography and topology, especially when calls are made inside structures.

But, smartphones are supposed to be “smart” and the device knows where the caller is physically located, because of embedded GPS sensors and Wi-Fi positioning systems. Unfortunately, as we know all too well, today’s 911 systems do not have access to that device-generated location information.

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