Money tied to interoperability

Steve Cooper, CIO for Homeland Security

Unless state and local governments adhere to technical standards and protocols, they won't get any grant money from the Homeland Security Department, said Chief Information Officer Steve Cooper.

The requirement aims to improve voice and data interoperability at the state and local level, especially in systems using mobile radio and geospatial data, Cooper told attendees at the DHS' Industry Forum in Washington earlier this month. Geospatial data is crucial to many departments at the federal, state and local levels charged with domestic security, he said.

Cooper urged industry to devote equal attention to protocol issues surrounding interoperability when responding to opportunities in the state and local market.

"Even more important than technology standards are the processes and procedures related to interoperability," he said.

The federal government has provided $8 billion to state and local governments for homeland security purposes, according to DHS. President Bush's fiscal 2005 budget proposal contains an additional $5 billion.

DHS is replacing the Joint Regional Information Exchange, an encrypted, virtual private network used for distributing threat information, with a network dubbed the Homeland Information Security Network, Cooper said.

Besides providing information to state emergency operations centers, the new network will offer threat information to the nation's 50 largest metropolitan areas and to the 56 state and territorial governments, Cooper said. The department plans to connect the additional participants this year, he said.

"The Homeland Information Security Network will be the primary network for information sharing between DHS [and state and local government] in the counterterrorism space," Cooper said.


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