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Integrators help state, local customers secure federal grants<@VM>Feds push big-ticket communications projects<@VM>How to get your company's foot in the door

What is interoperability?

Communications interoperability is the ability of agencies and jurisdictions to communicate and share data with each other through existing systems and equipment.

Money tree is fruit laden

Proposed fiscal 2005 federal grant programs for state and local first responders

$2.5 billion for Project BioShield, to buy supplies of medical countermeasures against weapons of mass destruction

$2.1 billion for the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act

$1.4 billion for discretionary grants, including $200 million for infrastructure protection and $46 million for port security

$750 million for formula grants, including $50 million for Citizen Corps activities

$500 million for state and local law enforcement counterterrorism efforts

$500 million for Firefighter Assistance Grants

$508 million for Local Law Enforcement Block Grants

$170 million for Emergency Management Performance Grants

Source: National Governors Association

EDS' Debra Winter is in Anaheim, Calif., where the company helped the city get federal money to create a regional emergency management system for police, firefighters and other first responders.

Ann Johansson

Steve Hutchens, EDS' client industry executive for homeland security, was one of the officials who accompanied Anaheim, Calif., Police Chief Roger Baker to Washington in September to help navigate the federal bureaucracy.

Olivier Douliery

Affiliated Computer Services Inc. is working to provide Oklahoma City with integrated computer-aided dispatch and records management, as well as mobile data computer systems and radio infrastructure, according to ACS' Dan Brophy.

Henrik G de Gyor

When Anaheim, Calif., Police Chief Roger Baker met with Homeland Security Department officials last September in Washington to see about getting grant money for a regional emergency management system, he brought along four officials from EDS Corp.

EDS, which was already providing IT outsourcing services to the city, tapped its expertise in the federal market to help Baker navigate the Washington bureaucracy and make the right contacts for his briefing. Just two months later, Anaheim received a $10 million urban security grant from the DHS' Office of Domestic Preparedness.

"It was a chance for Anaheim to get its idea before a federal department for both awareness and validation," said Steve Hutchens, client industry executive for homeland security and one of the EDS officials who accompanied Baker.

[IMGCAP(2)]While many technology companies struggle to crack the market for interoperable communications in public safety and homeland security, integrators such as EDS are finding success by expanding work with existing government customers. In many cases, these companies are testing new solutions in proof-of-concept demonstration projects.

And like EDS, these integrators are helping local government customers develop strategies for wireless voice and data interoperability, then using their federal experience to help those customers garner federal grants.

Tom Wood, Anaheim's assistant city manager, said that without EDS' assistance and its contacts at the federal level, the city might not have succeeded in getting the necessary funding for the initiative.

"They talked to DHS and got the critical level of funding necessary to get us over the top," said Wood, who participated in the discussions with DHS officials via conference call.

Anaheim's success bodes well for other cities looking to improve their public safety communications systems. The Justice Department, DHS and other federal agencies have available hundreds of millions of dollars in assistance to state and local governments for interoperability projects.

However, only about 10 percent to 15 percent of the jurisdictions throughout the nation have a desirable level of interoperability because of an absence of standards and the slow pace of funding, homeland security experts said.

But with the rise of federal funding directly to high-threat metropolitan areas, systems integrators such as EDS of Plano, Texas, IBM Corp. of Armonk, N.Y., and Northrop Grumman Corp. of Los Angeles are helping city and county governments embark on ambitious regional interoperability projects. These eventually will let first responders and neighboring jurisdictions talk to each other and transmit data by radio during a major disaster or terrorist incident.

Federal funding supports about 50 projects for wireless communications interoperability in the state and local market, according to market research firm Input Inc., Reston, Va. Research firm Federal Sources Inc., McLean, Va., predicts that the state and local market opportunity for wireless interoperability may reach $1 billion by 2007.

"The interoperability opportunity is on the horizon, and this thing is going to break loose pretty soon," said David Peyton, wireless practice lead with IBM's Business Consulting Services.

REGIONAL RESULTS

EDS chose to test its homeland security solution in Anaheim, where the company won a six-year, $33 million technology outsourcing contract last year. The company provides IT infrastructure support to a wide variety of city agencies, including finance, payroll, public utilities and police and fire departments.

When the IT outsourcing contract was signed last year, EDS agreed to help the city strengthen and expand its homeland security capabilities, said Debra Winter, EDS' business client manager. "The city was more ready than many other cities," she said.

Orange County, which comprises 34 cities and nearly 3 million people, had a good foundation on which the company could expand its homeland security capabilities. First responders in the county achieved full voice interoperability a number of years ago, Wood said.

EDS will implement the Anaheim homeland security project in two phases. In the first phase, EDS will use the federal grant to create a portal that will serve as a virtual operations center and link different resources throughout the county, including police, fire, computer-aided dispatch and traffic management systems, Winter said.

When it launches in July, the portal will let top city officials to manage their public safety assets during a disaster or terrorist incident from either a desktop or laptop computer, she said.

In the second phase, EDS will provide the same asset-tracking capabilities to first responders in the field.

"Bringing the disparate systems together will be a real home run," Wood said.

In northern California, Northrop Grumman is helping jurisdictions in Santa Clara County breach agency silos to let first responders and other agencies share information with each other during major disasters or terrorist incidents.

Eighteen jurisdictions comprising 30 first responders throughout the county are cooperating with each other on the project, said Ray Duncan, Northrop Grumman's Silicon Valley Regional Interoperability Project program manager.

[IMGCAP(3)]In the first phase of the project, the company will identify requirements for a system that ultimately will provide radio interoperability among first responders and data integration among disparate 911 and computer-aided dispatch systems throughout the county, Duncan said.

The 10-month first phase of the project is worth $1.3 million, Northrop Grumman said.

The second phase, which hasn't been awarded yet, will consist of a proof-of-concept test among several of those disparate systems, Duncan said.

The business opportunity for homeland security at the local level is also drawing companies that haven't usually pursued public safety.

Affiliated Computer Services Inc. of Dallas, a provider of IT and business process outsourcing services to state and local government, is testing a public safety solution in Oklahoma City, the site of the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in 1995.

The company is negotiating the final terms of a contract it won in January to provide Oklahoma City with integrated computer-aided dispatch and records management, as well as mobile data computer systems and radio infrastructure, said Dan Brophy, senior vice president and managing director with information management solutions at ACS' State and Local Solutions.

ACS is going to market with Pensacola, Fla.-based SmartCOP Inc., which provides integrated software systems for public safety agencies, he said.

Although the company does not have an IT outsourcing contract with the city, ACS chose to test its public safety solution in Oklahoma City because city officials take homeland security very seriously following their first-hand experience with terrorism nine years ago, Brophy said.

"We knew [Oklahoma City] would not do a low-end analysis," he said. "Here's a city that has done a lot of thinking about what they need for public safety. No citizen of Oklahoma City would begrudge them what they need."

Staff Writer William Welsh can be reached at wwelsh@postnewsweektech.com.
The departments of Defense, Homeland Security and Justice are driving a robust federal market for interoperable communications.

One substantial opportunity is the Integrated Wireless Network, or IWN. The multiyear project involves developing and deploying a wireless communications infrastructure to support federal law enforcement and homeland security efforts.

As part of this project, Justice awarded a five-year, $3 billion contract in 2002 for land mobile radio equipment to five contractors: Daniels Electronics Ltd., Victoria, British Columbia; Datron World Communications Inc., Vista, Calif.; E.F. Johnson Inc., Washington; M/A Com Inc., Lowell, Mass.; and Motorola Inc., Schaumberg, Ill.

DHS is joining Justice for the next phase of IWN. The two departments will issue a request for proposal in April or May for the infrastructure of the project, which encompasses software, systems, services and ancillary equipment to support the network. The three-year project is worth $1 billion, according to market research firm Input Inc., Reston, Va.

Among its defense contracts, General Dynamics Corp. of Falls Church, Va., is engaged in many interoperable projects. The company provides military customers, such as the Navy and Air Force, with various solutions, including software-defined radio and theater-deployable communications/integrated communications access packages, known as TDC ICAP.

Software-defined radio technology combines computational, networking and communications technologies in a single product. TDC ICAP lets users send and receive secure voice, data and video messages via wireless, satellite or other communications systems.

General Dynamics has contracts valued at $350 million to provide the Air Force with these solutions. The company also has contracts totaling $150 million to provide software-defined radio solutions and equipment to support the Navy's Digital Modular Radio program.

As for communications companies, Harris Inc. of Melbourne, Fla., is a key subcontractor to Lockheed Martin Corp. of Bethesda, Md., providing wireless transmission for the Army's Warfighter Information Network-Tactical program. Harris' share of the 15-year contract is $1 billion.
Input Inc.'s five tips for doing business with the Homeland Security Department

  • Pursue multiple opportunities throughout the department.

  • Provide performance metrics for products and solutions.

  • Make a long-term commitment to pursue DHS business.

  • Be patient. The department receives hundreds of e-mails each day.

  • Know where the department needs the most help and address those needs.


  • Steve Cooper's tips for contacting the DHS Chief Information Officer via e-mail (cio@dhs.gov)

    • Be specific about on the area on which your company focuses.

    • Provide an abstract of your company's product or solution in the text section of the message.

    • Clearly indicate in the text section what problem your company's product or solution will solve.

    • Don't conduct marketing in e-mail correspondence.

    • Don't send multiple attachments with e-mail correspondence.


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