MCP Insights

How to Protect Your Siren System from Hackers

Posted by Brian Malinich on Aug 13, 2018 9:30:20 AM

Emergency siren systems respond in various ways based on the type of activation tone that is transmitted. The tones correspond to the type of event that has occurred. Sometimes they will sound in a continuous burst for a predetermined length of time, other times they will sound in a series of short bursts, and for the most severe events they might emit prerecorded audio that contains critical instructions, for instance evacuation orders in the event of a wildfire.

In April 2017, someone hacked into the emergency weather siren system operated by the city of Dallas. The sirens are intended to warn citizens of weather events so serious that they should take immediate cover. Most of the time the sirens are used to warn of tornadoes, which are quite common in the region in the spring. On this night, the hacker reportedly unleashed all 156 sirens in the system simultaneously. Some media reports indicated that they blared for about 90 minutes, while others indicated that they sounded more than a dozen times for 90-second intervals. Regardless, the hack spawned quite a bit of panic. It also generated a lot of questions from government officials, the media and citizens.

Last month, sirens went off in Genesee County, Michigan, without any emergency to justify turning them on. Reportedly, this was the third time the sirens were activated in a month without apparent cause, and county public safety officials believe that the system was hacked each time.

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Topics: Operations, Public Safety Technology

Life at MCP: Meet Jackie Mines

Posted by Morgan Sava on Aug 9, 2018 10:00:00 AM
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.

Walt Disney is well-known for his famous quote, “It’s kind of fun to do the impossible.”

Jackie Mines, Project Manager at Mission Critical Partners, has learned this a time or two during her 30+ years working in public safety communications.

She lived this firsthand back in 1998 when she and her team of stakeholders completed what seemed like the impossible task of leading the effort to deploy wireless enhanced 911 (E911) in a fourteen-state Midwest region at the US West telephone company (US West later became Qwest Communications International and was purchased by Century Link).

Twenty years later, her work embodied this philosophy again in her role as the director of emergency communications networks for the State of Minnesota, when she led the team responsible for rolling out text-to-911 statewide in 2017. As part of that multi-year, very complex project, not only did the 30-year old 911 system in Minnesota undergo a major upgrade that dramatically improved emergency response capabilities for the people and visitors of Minnesota, it also extended new capabilities to the deaf and hard-of-hearing community.

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Topics: Life at MCP, Meet Our People

Leveraging Social Media Data in Charleston County, SC

Posted by Dave Sehnert on Jul 20, 2018 9:30:40 AM

Recent history has shown that, when 911 becomes overwhelmed, citizens turn to social media in an effort to have their pleas for help heard.

Last fall, Texans trapped in homes flooded by Hurricane Harvey used the social radio network app Zello to contact the volunteer Cajun Navy fleet and posted their addresses on Facebook and Twitter to aide emergency medical services in locating them. After a 7.1 magnitude earthquake collapsed buildings in Mexico City, volunteers used WhatsApp to recruit and mobilize informal search and rescue teams before the army, navy and civil protection units were mobilized. When wild fires destroyed parts of California over the course of several months, many turned to social media to plead for help locating missing loved ones and to mark themselves as “safe” using Facebook’s Crisis Response feature when they could not reach friends and relatives.

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Topics: 911 Anniversary, Data Integration

Integrating IPAWS Into Your Operations

Posted by Gordon Vanauken on Jul 11, 2018 1:30:00 PM

The Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS) is a powerful federal resource that can be used by state, local, tribal, and territorial authorities to protect the public. As with any powerful tool, IPAWS is a multiplier when used properly. However, we all have heard stories concerning improper use of IPAWS that resulted in embarrassment for public safety officials and unease within the community. Fortunately, there are a few easy steps you can take to keep this from happening to your agency.

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Topics: Operations

What is IPAWS?

Posted by Gordon Vanauken on Jul 6, 2018 2:00:00 PM

The ability to broadcast emergency alerts to the public has been in place in one form or another for nearly seven decades. In August 1951, the Control of Electronic Radiation (CONELRAD) system was launched; it leveraged AM radio frequencies to send out alerts. A dozen years later the Emergency Broadcast System (EBS), which utilized television frequencies, was born; its original purpose was to enable the president to speak directly to the American public in times of crisis, such as the “who is going to blink first?” nuclear showdown between the United States and the Soviet Union that occurred a year earlier.

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Topics: Operations

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MCP Insights by Mission Critical Partners is the online destination for public safety leaders to expand their knowledge, stay abreast of trends, and discover innovative ideas to help implement change that will advance the industry... Because the mission matters.

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