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

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

The Difference Between Change Management and Change Leadership In Public Safety Communications

Posted by John Spearly on May 7, 2018 12:00:00 PM

Profound changes are coming to the public safety sector, particularly to 911 centers. Next Generation 911 systems and the nationwide public safety broadband network—which is being implemented by the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet)—will generate a tremendous amount of new, actionable data in real-time that dramatically will enhance situational awareness, in turn improving emergency response by leaps and bounds. In time, even more usable information generated by the billions of data-collection sensors already in place—whose numbers will reach into the trillions in the not-too-distant future—will be leveraged by 911 centers, which will become the center of the information universe, at least as it pertains to public safety.

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Topics: Next Generation 911, Network Evolution, FirstNet, Operations, 911 Anniversary

D.C. Develops an Interesting Approach to Triaging Low-Acuity 911 Calls

Posted by Jeff Wobbleton on Apr 20, 2018 3:30:00 PM

An epidemic is afflicting the entire United States. It involves low-acuity emergency calls to 911 call centers that are overburdening the emergency medical services (EMS) provided by municipal governments. This burden is even extending to the emergency rooms (ERs) to which these patients are transported. The result is that emergency medical technicians (EMTs) increasingly are suffering from stress and morale issues, ambulances are falling into disrepair, and ERs are struggling to keep up with the demand.

Low-acuity calls are those that do not qualify as Basic Life Support (BLS) or Advanced Life Support (ALS) incidents, such as sprains, the flu, a cut requiring stitches, stomach cramps and the like. The problem is that when someone dials 911, the municipality is obligated to dispatch an ambulance/EMT/paramedic to the incident to assess the patient’s condition and, given some patient bill of rights, transport the patient to an ER. This is required regardless of the severity of the incident, even for low-acuity calls, which require neither a visit from EMTs or transport to an ER.

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Topics: Operations, Staffing, 911 Anniversary

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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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