Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency (PEMA)

May 25th, 2015

Posted In: Network 9-1-1

6_PEMA LogoCLIENT: Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency (PEMA)

SERVICES PROVIDED: EOC Facility Technology Integration Services
Emergency Management Technology Integration Master Plan and Integration Services
Plan and Best Practices Development to Optimize Existing Capabilities
NG9-1-1 Implementation Support

CHALLENGES: The Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency (PEMA) has unique requirements for continuity of operations, survivability, sustainability and real-time information sharing with agencies inside and outside of the Commonwealth network. These unique requirements are based upon PEMA’s mission “a) which is to save lives, reduce suffering, and protect property and the environment by leading and coordinating Commonwealth Agencies and resources to prevent, protect, prepare, respond and recover from any man-made or natural disaster.” Over the last five years, PEMA has embarked on several initiatives to better position the Agency to achieve its mission, meet the needs of the 9-1-1 community, and prepare for Next Generation 9-1-1 (NG9-1-1).

PEMA retained an architectural team to design a new Statewide Emergency Operations Center (SEOC), which will consolidate the SEOC with the Statewide NG9-1-1 Network Operations Center and the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) Traffic Management Center. Mission Critical Partners, Inc. (MCP) is providing technology design and operational migration planning related to the 97,000-square-foot EOC facility within this new facility. Collectively, the team is developing the facility program, performing facility and system designs, and performing coordination between construction and technology vendors. MCP has initiated and will manage complex EOC technology upgrades in coordination with the stringent construction and transition schedule. The project requires extensive technology integration to support several state entities that will be housed in the new facility, including:

  • Pennsylvania offices of Homeland Security, Administration, State Radio Network Division of the Pennsylvania State Police (PSP), State Fire Marshall, and Public Information
  • Joint Information Center (JIC)
  • Senior Leader Situation Room
  • Bureau of Radiation Protection Watch Center

With 69 public safety answering points (PSAPs) in the Commonwealth and PEMA directing more than $100 million in funding to the PSAPs, the 9-1-1 program is the life blood of sustaining continually progressive capabilities in emergency call delivery and processing. The complexity of the constant change in technology, stakeholder expectations and PSAP capabilities presents a unique opportunity to develop a strategic direction for 9-1-1 service statewide. MCP is developing 9-1-1 policy for the Bureau of 9-1-1 and legislative initiatives. This includes governance, funding, technology, operational and legislative recommendations.

An initial step towards the migration to a statewide NG9-1-1 capability is the establishment of a statewide Emergency Services Internet Protocol (IP) network (ESInet). PEMA must effectively transition and implement NG9-1-1 throughout the Commonwealth in a consistent, standards-based and cost effective manner. As the planning and implementation coordinating body for NG9-1-1 system deployment, PEMA recognizes this effort will entail significant investment, detailed planning, and close cooperation among both public and private sector entities. To this end, MCP is tasked with advancing the deployment and progression of NG9-1-1 technology throughout the Commonwealth.

SOLUTIONS: Due to the Agency’s unique requirements for continuity of operations, survivability, and sustainability, strategic planning based on best practices was paramount, while also taking into consideration established Pennsylvania Office of Administration Information Technology (OAIT) strategic goals and practices and the Governor’s Program Policy Guideline Goals. MCP worked with PEMA to develop a dynamic strategic plan that adapts to a constantly changing technology while anticipating future conditions and opportunities through innovative initiatives. MCP completed a series of eleven tasks to strive to provide PEMA with the roadmap to achieve high-grade operational effectiveness by leveraging current and future technology capabilities.

MCP is also carrying out a comprehensive strategy that will ensure a seamless technology transition to the new facility. Key components of this strategy include:

  • Defining enterprise and mission-critical and technology-sensitive systems in partnership with PEMA staff
  • Holding final decisions on mission-critical technology selection for as long as possible to ensure that the most current technologies are considered
  • Coordinating technology, vendors and move planning with the master project construction schedule
  • Integrating technology considerations and requirements into the building design specifications with an emphasis upon operational integrity
  • Integrating technology systems across multiple tenant agencies in the building
  • Complete migration planning and operationalization of technology from the current site to the new SEOC

Policy initiatives include developing a legislative model for future 9-1-1 capabilities and the 9-1-1 program’s role; preparing a plan to enable a shared services environment for improving disaster recovery, reducing recurring PSAP costs, and increasing interoperability; and developing an NG9-1-1 statewide plan. MCP also intends to improve technology investments in an austere environment by achieving interoperability and shared funding capabilities for sustainable deployment.

The NG9-1-1 initiative includes support activities associated with governance, funding, regulatory, standards and technology, public education, and operational and legislative recommendations. MCP’s strategy for achieving the end goals is as follows:

  • Develop and execute an NG9-1-1 strategic plan
  • Conduct an ESInet Feasibility Study, addressing the technical, operational, policy, and funding aspects of a state-level ESInet
  • Develop a phased deployment of regional ESInets to facilitate use of next generation technologies
  • Perform regional assessment analyses to enable a shared services environment for improving disaster recovery, reducing recurring PSAP costs and increasing interoperability
  • Establish a Commonwealth-wide customer premise equipment (CPE) approach to include a migration strategy and transition planning

Specific disciplines and functional area expertise for the initiatives include NG9-1-1; 9-1-1 technologies, including text-to-911; IP network; geographic information systems (GIS); CPE; network performance, stakeholder outreach and coordination, and policy development and recommendations.

KEY RESULTS: Through combined efforts, the design and construction of a secure, state-of-the-art SEOC serving multiple agencies is on schedule. Equipped with the latest mission critical technology, the 21st century SEOC will enable state agencies to better coordinate their planning, situational awareness, response, and recovery efforts related to natural and man-made disasters.

MCP created a dynamic plan that lays the groundwork for PEMA to establish business practices that would evolve with the innovative initiatives of the future.

Creating a reliable, efficient and flexible deployment of next generation capabilities through stakeholder participation will position PEMA as the leader in Commonwealth public safety communications and technology. A statewide ESInet will extend connectivity to each County EOC and PSAP to fully operationalize emergency call delivery, call processing and land mobile radio (LMR) capabilities. NG9-1-1 over the ESInet will enable the use of broadband  networking, which will improve the public’s ability to supply text, video and enhanced voice information from any IP-capable device.

Rita Rellick
Deputy Director for Administration

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