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As a result of a one-time infusion of federalfunds for national radio interoperability, theflow of dollars for homeland security projectsin states and localities mightbe peaking this year.The grants are expected tosupport hundreds of state and local initiatives,such as buying geospatial software for situationalawareness in Missouri,constructing a statewideradio system in Colorado andsetting up a system inConnecticut to track disasteraid on the Internet.Government contractorsare chasing about $5 billionin opportunities related tothose federal grants, whichinclude $3 billion from theHomeland SecurityDepartment, $1 billion foremergency preparednessfrom the Health and HumanServices Department, and aspecial, one-time $1 billionallocation for public safety interoperabilityfrom the National Telecommunications andInformation Administration (NTIA) in coordinationwith DHS."Federal dollars are pouring into the statesin almost every category of homeland security,"said Erin Phelps, director of enterprise servicesand solutions at Ciber Inc., a systems integratorin Denver. "There is a tremendous growthopportunity."Those dollars represent a windfall for stateand local governments at a time when manylocal agencies are otherwise tightening theirbelts. But it is uncertain how long such largepools of money will be available.Democrats support increasing local fundingfor preparedness programs, and if theyincrease their congressionalmajorities in the Novemberelections, funding levels arelikely to remain high. But some foresee adeclining interest in homeland security spendingas the events of the 2001 terrorist attacksrecede further into the past."There is a sense that people are expectingless funding," said Drew Sachs, vice presidentof crisis and consequence management atJames Lee Witt Associates, a Washington consultingfirm.DHS is the largest funding spigot, havingfunneled billions of dollars to state and localagencies since 2003 to help increase nationalpreparedness. A substantial portion ofthose awards was spent on contractor goodsand services, including information technologysystems and services for surveillance, situationalawareness, communication, commandand control, intrusion detection, identificationmanagement, resource tracking,and credentialing.This year, money will be channeled tostates and territories, urban areas, transit systems,law enforcement agenciesand other entities. Thatincludes is $400 million forsecurity at ports, nearly doublewhat they received lastyear.But the $1 billion PublicSafety InteroperabilityCommunications grant fundbeing made available tostates this year throughNTIA is getting the mostattention. Congress set up thefund to pass along some ofthe proceeds from the sale ofpublic radio spectrum in connectionwith the move to digitalTV."The public safety interoperability fundinghas had a huge impact on the level of activitywe have seen this year," said Tom Miller,director of public safety global governmentaffairs at Motorola Inc. "We are seeing heightenedinterest and excitement. It is a significantincrease in funding available for communicationsprojects."State and local agencies are applying forthe public safety interoperability money incoordination with statewide strategies. Miller said about 32 states have advanced plans forstatewide interoperable radio networks. Therest are using bridging and gateway devices toconnect radio systems. "The focus is still onvoice, though some jurisdictions are alsodoing data," he said.Meanwhile, state and local agencies alsoare creating proposals for spending the otherpreparedness grants on equipment, trainingand drills. And vendors are actively publicizingtheir solutions."We are extremely interested in this market,"said Mike Fox, senior vice president anddirector of marketing and sales at SRAInternational Inc., a solutions provider inFairfax, Va.Fox said SRA is offering state and localhomeland grant recipients solutions thatinclude software for performingvulnerability assessments oncritical infrastructure, geospatialand dispatching softwarefor emergency operations andfusion centers, and data-miningsoftware to help hospitals andpublic health systems track diseases."On the one hand, people feel like whateverthey do, it is never enough." he said. "Onthe other hand, technology lets you do morewith less." He added that there is cautiousoverall optimism about homeland securitysolutions.Ciber executives see a multitude of opportunitiesin offering enterprise-level, integratedsolutions for homeland security, primarily forcritical infrastructure such as ports and masstransit systems, Phelps said. The companyalso is working with regional organizations onbuffer zone protection that uses roadsidevideo near power plants and chemical plants.In May, Ciber finished installing a $2.3 millionwaterside perimeter protection systemfor Port Freeport, Texas, that integrates solutionsfor security, safety, and maritimedomain awareness and management into asingle command-and-control solution. Thesystem includes video surveillance, intrusiondetection, access control, intelligent radarand large-vessel tracking. Ciber installed asimilar system at Port Lake Charles, La.,using port security funding."For systems integrators, this market couldnot be better," Phelps said.For state officials, the largest trend in usingthe homeland security grants is the movetoward greater regionalization and more centralizedstrategies. Connecticut, for example,has coordinated radio connections to astatewide network and is distributing a softwaretool to track disaster recovery resources,said Wayne Sandford, the state's deputy commissionerof emergency management andhomeland security."We are no longer providing funding tomunicipalities. All of it is going to regions,"Sandford said.Regionalization is also a major focus inWashington state, which is bringing togetherstate, local, federal and tribal authorities tocreate an interoperable communications networkin the most rugged geographic region inthe northwest corner of the state, said RobHarper, a spokesman for the state's homelandsecurity agency.Delaware is using its public safety interoperabilityfunding to back up its 800 Mhzstatewide radio system with a 700 Mhz system,said Tom Steele, chief information officer at thestate's homeland security agency. The new systemwill provide a larger pipeline and morebandwidth for voice, video and data interoperability.With funding potentially declining inthe future, he said, pursuing an all-hazardsapproach to homeland security projects isimperative to get the greatest benefit.Colorado is proposing to spend $14.3 millionof its interoperability funds to movetoward completion of 80 percent of astatewide digital trunked radio network, saidMaj. Gen. Mason Whitney, homeland securitycoordinator for the state."We are in pretty good shape," Whitneysaid. "We are trying to wean the local agenciesoff the VHF radios, which are inexpensive,and go to P-25 compatible equipment."Project 25 was developed by the IT andwireless communications industries to createcommon criteria for new wireless public safetycommunications devices and systems. Thegoal was to enable the radios to communicateseamlessly with one another regardless ofmanufacturer.In Missouri, officials are proposing tospend $1.6 million from the grant pool toexpand the state's Emergency ResourceInformation System, a portal providing situationalawareness, tracking and planning. IBMCorp. is the prime contractor.The system is operational and was usedduring the recent floods in the state, said PaulFennewald, homeland security coordinator."We are using it for situational awareness," hesaid. "It also allows the private sector to populatethe databases with the goods and servicesavailable."With so much money flowing in, it is notsurprising that vendors are busy making salescalls, a trend likely to continue until the allocationsare fully committed."My phone rings endlessly with peoplewanting to sell things for homeland security,"Steele said. "With the public safety interoperabilitymoney coming in, it has gotten almostcutthroat. It also has gotten more competitive,and that is always good."

Related Links

Grants bonanza

Grants bonanza online. For a breakdown of homeland security and preparedness grants, go to http://www.washingtontechnology.com and type 223 in the Quickfind box. Information is available on grant programs from the
Homeland Security and Health and Human Services departments and the National Telecommunciations and Information
Administration.






























































COORDINATED EFFORT











































































































REGIONAL APPROACH






















































































Alice Lipowicz (alipowicz@1105govinfo.com) is a
staff writer at Washington Technology.
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