Report: Awareness of DHS emergency communications plan lacking

According to a new report from IT solutions provider CDW Government (CDW-G), awareness of the Department of Homeland Security’s National Emergency Communications Plan (NECP) is lacking among emergency communications professionals. The NECP, which was published in 2008, outlines a multi-faceted approach to strengthening emergency communications capabilities.

Of the 210 state and local emergency communications professionals surveyed for the report entitled, “2009 Emergency Communications Report: Awareness and Progress Toward the National Emergency Communication Plan,” only half the respondents were familiar with the NECP prior to the survey.

“Public-safety communications professionals work to keep pace with directives from local, state, and Federal entities – and doing so is almost a full-time job. The sheer volume of information published by the DHS is daunting, to say the least, and the transition to the new administration has seemingly slowed awareness as well,” said Houston Thomas, public safety business development manager for CDW-G. “That said, since its inception, DHS has taken a leadership role in improving emergency communications.”

After being made aware of the plan’s goals, 93 percent of respondents said that they felt it had the potential to help solve some of their communications issues, which according to the survey is in need of some major improvements. Nearly 28 percent of respondents reported experiencing a communications problem that hampered a response in the last year, while 61 percent said that achieving seamless communication across jurisdictions is their top priority in providing emergency services.

To have the goals of the NECP more widely adopted, however, Thomas said that it’s going to take a greater effort on the part of the federal government.

“Awareness and prioritization are needed to drive NECP implementation,” he said. “A specific Federal grant funding stream tied to NECP implementation would go a long way toward increasing awareness and subsequent implementation. To implement the NECP, public-safety professionals who are familiar with goals say they need training, network infrastructure, collaboration hardware and/or software, and staff – all of which require funding.”