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Grant Alert: Unprecedented Cybersecurity Grants for State and Local Governments Announced

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) released its long-awaited State and Local Cybersecurity Grant Program

MCP Grows Yet Again, This Time Adding Critical Cybersecurity Expertise

Over the last several years, Mission Critical Partners aggressively has pursued acquisitions that expand the services and solutions that we can offer to clients in support of their missions. That work continues with the addition of Secure Halo, which is headquartered in Silver Spring, Maryland. This acquisition is the fifth executed by MCP in the last four years.

MCP Has a Lot Going On at Next Week’s NENA Conference

Things are starting to feel more normal, if not completely normal, as the COVID-19 pandemic seems to be winding down and various restrictions are being lifted, or at least lessened. Strong evidence of this can be found next week in Columbus, Ohio, where the National Emergency Number Association (NENA) will host its annual trade show and conference. This is the first brick-and-mortar event to be staged in the public safety communications sector in roughly a year and a half.

This Month’s Cyberchat Shines a Light on the Rise of Ransomware

Earlier this year, we ramped up our cybersecurity efforts by launching a series of monthly video chats in which we summarize the most recent threats, share information from entities such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Cybersecurity Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), and offer tips for preventing cyberattacks and mitigating them if they occur. This month’s Cyberchat video, which can be viewed below, contains some important information that public-sector and critical infrastructure agencies need to have.

Double the Attack, Double the Fees

Double-encryption ransomware attacks, which typically include cyberattackers encrypting a target’s data twice, at the same time or shortly after each other, are on the rise. In this month’s video, we explore how agencies can mitigate the risk of a double-encryption attack and begin the rebuilding process if one occurs.

Operational Change Management Depends Largely on Organizational Culture

by Michele Frankovich and Elizabeth Lenz 

The ancient philosopher Heraclitus stated that change is the only constant in life. But that isn’t quite right. Another constant is that people generally are reticent to change and will do almost anything to avoid it. That’s because change represents the unknown, which is scary.

Nevertheless, change presents opportunities. Change is how people and organizations evolve. And evolution is necessary—if people and organizations do not adapt to changing conditions, they sooner or later will encounter difficulties. For instance, people need to learn new skillsets if they want to remain competitive in the job market. Similarly, organizations need to react to changing market conditions if they want to continue serving their customers, whose needs and wants continually evolve—or in the case of government entities, their constituents.

Meet Molly Falls: Public Safety Project Manager by Day, Triathlete by Night

After years of swimming competitively while earning bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Ball State University, Molly Falls found her way into the public safety industry and then to Mission Critical Partners (MCP). Now a senior technology specialist who specializes in managing statewide 911 projects, Molly credits years of intense training and balancing the daily grind of athletics with academics as influential factors in her ability to multitask, manage tight deadlines, and remain focused as a project manager.

Topics: Life at MCP

Georgia Criminal Justice System Realizes Faster Case Processing and More Informed Decision-Making with Statewide CJEP Project

When the Georgia Governor's Office charged a team of criminal justice stakeholders with accessing the efficiencies that could be gained from electronic court filing, statewide criminal justice stakeholders set out to find ways in which documents and information could be seamlessly shared between systems. The State’s goal to improve criminal-history disposition match rates quickly expanded to the realization that real, sustainable statewide improvements would significantly improve the flow of justice information from the beginning to the end of the criminal case lifecycle. At that time, the administration was determined to improve the performance of the state’s criminal justice system to better protect public safety and control spending.

2020 Public Safety Industry Outlook

We’re six weeks into a new year and a new decade, and public safety leaders are focused on pursuing more funding, implementing unconventional approaches related to staffing, recruiting and retention, and implementing innovative strategies to modernize their public safety communications technologies and networks—all while keeping them secure from cyberattacks, which are increasing in frequency and complexity.

Recently, we hosted our first webinar of 2020, during which more than 100 public safety professionals shared their top budget priorities and marketing challenges. Upgrading public safety technology, such as legacy computer-aided dispatch (CAD) and records-management systems (RMS) was a prominent theme, with more than half of participants citing this as a key priority in their organization for the coming year. Transitioning to Next Generation 911 (NG911) and staffing, retention and organizational planning also were reemerging topics from previous years.

Client Success Story: Memphis Police and 911 Communications Enjoy a Remarkable Rebirth

Challenge

With the third-highest homicide rate amongst the 50 largest cities, it’s easy to see that the Memphis Police Department needs every possible resource at its disposal. But as recently as three years ago, its emergency communications capabilities were in shambles. The communications infrastructure was aging and had been neglected for at least a decade. Maintenance was substandard for many of its systems and all were several releases behind in terms of their operating software. The department needed to address computer-aided dispatch (CAD) and uninterruptible power supply (UPS) systems that had reached end of life. Critical servers were out of drive space.

The 911 center was understaffed and plagued by archaic policies with emergency callers waiting for as long as seven minutes before their call was answered. “We were in bad shape,” says Michael Spencer, the police department’s emergency communications administrator. “There was a lot wrong. We were doing things every day just to keep things running.”

Topics: Operations, Staffing

How Public Safety Agencies are Navigating Change and Accelerating Progress

MCP’s Model for Advancing Public Safety is Helping Agencies Build a Blueprint for Today and What They Can Become

Last year, the 911 Center that serves Harford County, Maryland, was having a hard time recruiting and retaining telecommunicators, a problem that is quite common in emergency communications centers (ECCs) across the country.

Life at MCP: Meet Heather McGaffin

Our people and culture make Mission Critical Partners (MCP) a great place to work. Our "Life at MCP" series introduces our team members, the role they play in our organization and their passion for helping the public safety industry thrive.

One thing that differentiates the team of specialized professionals at MCP is the fact that many of them came from the “other side.”

Nearly half of MCP’s subject matter experts were former public safety answering point (PSAP) managers or first responders who have dedicated their entire career to supporting the mission. With them comes specialized industry experience and a unique perspective on what clients really want in order to realize project success.

One such example is Heather McGaffin. Heather is a Communications Consultant at MCP, where she works primarily on next generation 911 (NG911) projects. With her comes the operational experience she’s earned from rising up the ranks in the PSAP environment. Her career began as a telecommunicator and she quickly rose to the role of assistant chief of communications in a Maryland PSAP where she worked until she joined MCP in 2015. Today, she plays a unique part in helping clients along their NG911 journey—focusing on the human aspect of NG911, which includes training and continuing education so that telecommunicators and PSAP administrators can thrive in an NG911 environment.

An Important Milestone: 10 Years of Mission Critical Partners

This month is very special for Mission Critical Partners: it’s the month we celebrate 10 years of being in business.

A decade ago, our co-founders—Kevin Murray, Brian Bark, and Len Kowalski—started the firm in makeshift offices above their garages and in their basements. They were joined shortly thereafter by David F. Jones and Dave Boyce. Together, the team of five worked countless hours and weekends to build a company consisting of innovators, engineers, subject-matter experts, former emergency responders and 911 center managers, and project managers, who share a common passion—improving life-safety outcomes. Since their humble beginning in 2009, the founders had a vision of growing the firm to 75 employees, the size they believed would give it influence in shaping the future of public safety communications.