Homeland Watch: In brief

Interoperability still ranks

Achieving interoperability by making first-responder radio systems compatible is a top priority for the Homeland Security Department, said George Foresman, undersecretary for preparedness.

"Secretary [Michael] Chertoff's three top issues are Federal Emergency Management Agency retooling, immigration and border control, and interoperability," Foresman said.

There have been gains in helping fire and police agencies adopt compatible systems, but the greatest hurdles concern oversight and coordination rather than technology, he said.

"Before we even get to the technical issues, we have to address the architectures and governance issues," Foresman said. The solution has to be a joint governmental effort, he said. "Interoperability is not going to be solved by the federal government, but we can facilitate."

Winnowing IWN mission

One hot topic among executives at the recent FOSE trade show was how the Integrated Wireless Network, the $10 billion federal agent wireless network to be sponsored by the Homeland Security, Justice and Treasury departments, will accommodate the many state and local wireless public safety networks that are springing up.

Whether it's wireless broadband ? in the works for the District of Columbia and its Maryland and Virginia suburbs ? or wireless mesh networks, the question seems to be whether IWN will be a backbone or merely a stop-gap for state and local wireless networks.

Hubs make infrastructure list
The Metropolitan Area Ethernet (MAE-East and MAE-West) Internet hub facilities in San Jose, Calif., and suburban Washington are being advanced as part of the nation's critical IT infrastructure, according to Michael Aisenberg, vice chairman of the IT Sector Coordinating Council and head of government relations for VeriSign Inc.

The council is compiling a list of critical IT assets, both physical and logical, to coordinate with the National Infrastructure Protection Plan.

About the Author

Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.

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