Interoperable Communications in Alabama

Narrowbanding Information for First Responders

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has developed a presentation to increase awareness about the upcoming narrowbanding deadline. This presentation will help local responders better understand what narrowbanding is and how it will impact their communications.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has mandated all non-federal public safety licensees using 25kHz radio systems migrate to narrowband 12.5 kHz channels by December 31, 2012. If public safety agencies do not make the move to narrowband channels they may face a loss of communications capabilities. In order to meet the narrowband deadline, public safety agencies should start making plans to comply now. Below you will find a letter from the Statewide Interoperable Communications Coordinator (SWICC) Charles Murph, outlining the narrowbanding requirements and implications for first responder agencies. you will also find a link below to the Narrowband License Status Website that will provide FCC narrowbanding data in a geospatial tool.

A new resource is available if you are unsure if your equipment is narrowband capable, simply go to the FCC's Equipment Authorization web site and enter the FCC ID NUMBER (sometimes called the TYPE ACCEPTANCE NUMBER) as follows:
  1. Enter the first 3 characters of the FCC ID in the first box (the GRANTEE CODE)
  2. Enter the remaining characters of the FCC ID in the second box (PRODUCT CODE)
  3. Click on START SEARCH
  4. Click on DISPLAY GRANT
  5. Locate entries under EMISSION DESIGNATOR. Emission designators that begin with characters greater than "11K3" are WIDEBAND, emission designators that begin with characters less than (or equal to) "11K3" are NARROWBAND.

The Federal Communications Commission's Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau (Bureau) launched a new webpage dedicated to providing information and assistance to licensees migrating their land mobile radio systems from 25 kHz to 12.5 kHz or narrower channel bandwidth.

The webpage includes the following information:

  • Narrowbanding benefits for public safety users;
  • Frequently Asked Questions - answering technical and policy-related questions;
  • Links to information and resources regarding grant programs;
  • FCC Bureau-level contacts for those seeking additional information and assistance;
  • FCC News Releases on narrowbanding proceedings and initiatives;
  • A list of public safety frequency coordinators; and
  • Access to the FCC's licensing database.

Statewide Communications Interoperability Plan (SCIP)

The Statewide Communication Interoperability Plans (SCIPs) are locally-driven, multi-jurisdictional, and multi-disciplinary statewide plans to enhance emergency communications. Alabama's SCIP addresses designated critical elements for statewide interoperability. Click here to download a copy of the Alabama State Interoperable Communications Plan.  (Note this file is very large and may take some time to download.)

The lack of interoperable communications continues to be a serious, pressing public safety problem that severely undermines the ability of first responders to operate effectively during emergencies.  The impact of September 11, 2001, and the recent events of the April 2011 Tornado Outbreak and Hurricanes Ivan, Katrina, and Rita, underlines the urgent need for public safety departments and other emergency response agencies, to communicate reliably and effectively with one another when called on in a crisis.  Federal, state, tribal and local governments are making progress towards improved communications systems; however, there is much to be done to build collaboration and planning for disaster communications. To achieve interoperability, public officials must continue to address the following:
    - Incompatible and aging communications equipment
    - Limited and fragmented funding
    - Limited and fragmented planning
    - Lack of coordination and cooperation
Governments at all levels play a critical role in meeting each of these challenges. They can provide the leadership to create statewide, regional and local communication interoperability capacity. Alabama's leadership will benefit most effectively by employing the following strategies:
    - Implementing a governance structure that fosters collaborative planning among local, tribal, state, and federal government agencies
    - Encouraging developing flexible and open architecture and standards
    - Supporting funding for public safety agencies that work to achieve interoperability.

Alabama's Statewide Communications Interoperability Plan Version 2.0 is currently slated to be released in January 2013. This updated version will address Alabama's continuing efforts in addressing interoperable communications. Once version 2.0 has been signed by all appropriate parties, it will be published here on our website.




Interoperability Continuum

The Interoperability Continuum is a tool designed to aid the emergency response community and local, tribal, state, and Federal policy makers and ensure they address critical elements for success as they plan and implement interoperability solutions.  These elements include governance, standard operating procedures, technology, training and exercises, and usage of interoperable communications. This tool was established to depict the core facets of interoperability according to the stated needs and challenges of the emergency response community. The Interoperability Continuum will aid emergency response practitioners and policy makers in their short- and long-term interoperability efforts.

For more information on the Interoperability Continuum, please visit SafeCom's Website.

Local Tactical Interoperable Communications Plan (TICP)

Alabama recognizes the need for immediate interagency communications, interoperability, and cooperation. Effective prevention, protection, response and recovery to incidents, whether natural or man-made, mandate instant interoperability and cooperation from local to state to federal response agencies. Time-sensitive and critical communication requires coordination, collaboration, and cooperation before any incident to insure First Responders can communicate.

Please contact your county Emergency Management Director to receive a copy of your Tactical Interoperable Communications Plan (TICP).

Alabama's Tactical Interoperable Communications Field Operations Guidebook (ALA_FOG)

The Alabama Statewide Tactical Interoperable Communications Field Operations Guide (ALA-FOG) is a collection of technical reference material to aid Communications Unit personnel in establishing solutions to support communications during emergency incidents and planned events.  The ALA-FOG includes information from the Statewide Communications Interoperability Plan (SCIP), Regional Tactical Interoperable Communications Plan, and data from other Alabama communications documents; formatted as a pocket-sized guide. The ALA-FOG contains state and national interoperability channels. These channels should be programmed into all public safety radios in the appropriate frequency band. If geographic restrictions on some channels preclude their use within the State of Alabama, they may offer an interoperability option when responding out of territory where the restrictions do not apply.

Click here for links to other important Emergency and Interoperable Communications Sites