Accomplishments for Core Goal #1: Interoperability
The State has launched efforts to build a statewide radio system and a computer-aided dispatch/records management system (CAD/RMS). These backbone systems will replace obsolete or non-existent systems for the State’s public safety agencies and will provide a statewide infrastructure available for local governments. Following are key projects and accomplishments:
- The State is continuing to build out MD FiRST, Maryland’s first ever statewide interoperable radio system. The most critical lesson of 9/11 was the need for interoperable communications for first responders. Until MD FiRST, Maryland never had a statewide radio system, despite decades of efforts.
- Completed the second phase of MD FiRST, Maryland’s first ever statewide interoperable radio system, providing interoperable radio coverage on the entire Eastern Shore and parts of the Central Maryland. The network is wired to allow first responders to connect in counties covering 55% percent of the State’s population. The first phase provided coverage throughout MdTA’s primary response area including the northern I-95 corridor and critical infrastructure such as the Port of Baltimore and BWI airport. In 2013, Maryland completed the infrastructure build out for Phase II, providing coverage for the entire Eastern Shore. Phase III began in January 2014 and the remainder of the system is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2017.
- Local jurisdictions continue to express interest in joining the MD FiRST system and Kent County emergency services opted on. In addition to agencies that are already using the system such as the Maryland Transportation Authority (MdTA) Police, the Maryland Capitol Police (DGS), and the Maryland State Police, several local jurisdictions have expressed serious interest in using MD FiRST as their primary radio network. Kent County police, fire and EMS were the first local first responders to opt on to MD FiRST as their primary radio system, and they continue to affirm that joining MD FiRST instead of replacing their aging radio system was a forward move. Their testimonial says, “we had a lot of dead spots before all around the county. Now, with MD FiRST, we have no coverage loss at all both indoors and outdoors. We are very pleased with the system.”
- Continuing to build MD FiRST’s user base with federal agencies located in Maryland. Multiple federal partner agencies, such as the FBI and the Social Security Administration have expressed interest in joining the MD FiRST radio network. The DEA recently signed an MOU with MD FiRST which allows them to place 60 radios in service on the network, allowing them to communicate directly with local and state police that are using the system on a single radio, something not previously possible.
- More than 8,000 Interoperable Public Safety Radio Calls made in August 2014 on MD FiRST. MdTA, MSP’s JFK Barrack, Kent County, and several other agencies and departments combined to make over 8,000 interoperable radio calls with other State and local jurisdictions. MD FiRST allows these calls to be placed directly to partner agencies and does not rely on a dispatch center to establish the connection. The MD FiRST office reports that the 8,000 interoperable calls represent communications that most likely would not have taken place without MD FiRST.
- Working in partnership with local jurisdictions and other mutual aid partners, Maryland FiRST is identifying and providing access to an unprecedented number of critical radio channels across agency and county lines. With its old radio system, the MdTA Police previously had access to only three radio channels to manage their public safety operations and incident responses throughout the state. The new Maryland FiRST system, which MDTA Police began using on October 15, 2012, provides access to more than 700 individual state and local public safety radio talk groups on individual handheld radios. In addition to the improved interoperability, the new radios and radio system provide enhanced security, clarity, and range, as well as critical capabilities such as remotely adding new channels to radios in the field as needed.
- Established five regional interoperable radio communications networks that provide first responders with the ability to communicate interoperably across borders within their region and on Maryland’s waterways during the continued buildout of Maryland FiRST. While the statewide radio system is under construction, first responders in every county in Maryland are now connected to one of five regional systems that provide radio interoperability within their region. In July 2012, counties in Southern Maryland completed construction of the Southern Maryland Interoperable Emergency Communications (SMIEC) Network, joining the previously completed CMARC (Central Maryland Area Radio Communications), MESIN (Maryland Eastern Shore Interoperability Network), NCR (National Capital Region), and WAGIN (Washington Allegany Garrett Interoperability Network) systems.
- All 22 Maryland State Police Barracks, all of the Natural Resources Police (NRP), all of the Maryland Transit Administration Police, and all of the Maryland Transportation Authority (MdTA) dispatch centers are now live on the new statewide interoperable CAD/RMS network.Starting in April of 2013, Maryland began implementing an interoperable CAD/RMS network in order to integrate records that were previously stored in separate silos at all 22 MSP barracks and other state police agency locations. First responders will now have the ability to perform a query which instantly cross-references law enforcement records entered in by hundreds of agencies across the country.
- The Statewide CAD/RMS platform is interoperable with other pre-existing databases. In order to provide first responders with the most timely and up-to-date information, it is essential that the CAD/RMS network available to them be interoperable with other information sources that exist. By linking Maryland’s Statewide CAD/RMS to other local, State, and federal databases, Maryland state police first responders will have access to hazardous materials data, pre-identified and pre-mapped GIS locations, and other public safety databases.