Practitioner Steering Committee Discusses Maryland FiRST

The Practitioner Steering Committee (PSC) of the Statewide Interoperability Executive Committee advises and supports the Statewide Interoperability Executive Committee on how to ensure that emergency and public safety agencies statewide have compatible communications systems.  PSC members represent each State agency, entity, and geographic region included on the Executive Committee, including several county government members.

The PSC met yesterday to discuss a variety of topics including an update on progress of the State’s Interoperable Radio System, Maryland FiRST.   Various counties are at different stages with regards to plans for upgrading their own radio systems, and considering joining or developing interoperability with Maryland FiRST.

Last year, Kent County Maryland joined the system as the first county user. Montgomery County is planning its own radio system upgrade so that it will have interoperability with Maryland FiRST, and be able to take advantage of resource sharing with the State of Maryland.  Gerald Adcock of Montgomery County’s Public Safety System Modernization (PSSM) Program Office presented this report on the County’s upgrade at the meeting.

Developing an inclusive and representative governance structure for Maryland FiRST is one of MACo’s initiatives for the 2014 Legislative Session.  As described,

Maryland FiRST is a statewide radio communication system which will improve police, fire, and emergency management communications for our first responders, allowing them to more effectively and efficiently respond to emergency situations within certain regions and across county lines. Counties who choose to participate in this statewide system will realize seamless “interoperability” and lower infrastructure, equipment, and maintenance costs through shared resources. Shared State and county efforts require a commitment from all levels of government and a structure to ensure the operational needs of all users are considered. The creation of a governance board with committed representatives of the State and county partners will protect everyone’s interests and provide county users with a role in the system’s oversight and management, including infrastructure sharing coordination, network prioritization, standardized operations, and financial decisions.

For more information, see our previous post, MACo Adopts Top 2014 Initiatives.