Role of the Public Highlighted in Updated National Emergency Communications Plan

The Department of Homeland Security released the updated National Emergency Communications Plan– the Nation’s roadmap to ensuring emergency communications interoperability at all levels of government.

Interoperable communications were a legislative priority for the Governor and MACo in 2014. In this photo, MACo President Tom Duncan speaks on interoperability alongside Governor Martin O’Malley in Talbot County.

In 2014, the Maryland Association of Counties advocated improving governance of the State’s interoperable emergency communications radio system through the creation of an inclusive Radio Control Board. The Radio Control Board continues to support the 700MHz system with input from county governments who use the system for daily operations and for interoperability during regional emergencies.


For background, see From We to One: Radio Control Board Holds First Meeting

More recently, MACo has advocated for governance and funding for the State’s 9-1-1 Centers, or Public Safety Answering points through the establishment of the Next Generation 9-1-1 Commission and legislation to increase funding for emergency communications. PSAPs and Next Generation 9-1-1 capabilities, such as data messaging, figure in the new National Emergency Communications Plan.

Updated National Emergency Communications Plan Release

Today, US Department of Homeland Security released an updated national communications plan to help address interoperability at all levels of government. The national push for interoperability followed the tragedy of 9-11, when first responders rushing into the World Trade Center did not possess situational information from incident command on the scene.

The new national plan acknowledges changes in today’s emergency communications including:

  • the need for additional information security
  • the public’s valuable role
  • the effect of new technologies
  • the need for continuous exercise and training

From the plan:

Emergencies are often first reported to authorities by members of the public seeking assistance, and—more than ever before—the public is encouraged to alert the government to potentially dangerous or suspicious activities or update officials on the aftermath of an incident. For example, the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) “If You See Something, Say Something®” campaign emphasizes the importance of reporting suspicious activity to the proper local law enforcement authorities.

The Department will host a series of 60-minute webinars to discuss the updates to the NECP and answer questions.

The webinars are open to the public. The dates are as follows:

  • Wednesday, October 2, 2019, 3:00 pm – 4:00 pm ET
  • Tuesday, October 8, 2019, 4:00 pm – 5:00 pm ET
  • Wednesday, October 9, 2019, 11:00 am – 12:00 pm ET

To participate use: webinar link (for visual): and dial-in (for audio): (800) 381-7839.

To review the updated NECP visit: or for questions about the NECP, contact:

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