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APCO 2019: Second General Business Meeting

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  • APCO 2019: Second General Business Meeting

    The next second vice president of APCO International is Jason E. Kern, CPE, RPL of Illinois. Kern won a contested election against Kimberly Burdick, RPL, CPE, of Montana. The vote was 644 to 505. APCO President Holly E. Wayt announced the result during the second general business session of APCO 2019.

    During the same meeting the rest of APCO’s executive committee rotated into new roles. Second Vice President Margie Moulin, RPL, became first vice president; First Vice President Tracey M. Hilburn, RPL, ENP, ascended to the presidency; Wayt, ENP, RPL, became immediate past president and Immediate Past President Martha K. Carter rotated off the board.

    “I want to thank you; I want to sincerely thank Kimberly,’’ Kern said as he took his place among the executive council in the Baltimore Convention Center.

    The meeting started with Executive Director & CEO Derek Poarch’s presentation of the APCO 2019 Annual Report.

    Poarch stressed APCO’s legislative initiatives, including a $12 billion grant program for NG9-1-1 and the interoperable communications systems to accompany the emergency system’s next generation. Poarch also advocated for the 911 Saves Act that would reclassify public safety telecommunicators as Protective Service Occupations.

    Poarch noted that the association had 35,022 members as of Monday and climbing. He cited the continued growth of APCO’s certification and online programs hosted by the APCO Institute; expansion of APCO’s guidecard system, APCO IntelliComm; and APCO’s spectrum management services market share hovering around 60 percent as evidence that “the state of your association continues to be strong.”

    The membership also heard from federal officials Ronald Hewitt, assistant director for emergency communications for the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA); John Merrill, director, first responders and detection, DHS, Science and Technology Directorate; and Lisa M. Fowlkes, bureau chief of FCC’s Public Safety Homeland Security Bureau.

    Hewitt’s CISA is tasked with protecting America’s critical infrastructure, including public safety communications. Among its function are incident coordination and response as well as alerts, warnings and notifications. Hewitt pointed to his agency’s cybersecurity support functions as especially salient. Only about 35% of emergency communications centers have cybersecurity response plans, and over half of them have had a hacking incident, Hewitt said.

    “There are only two types of people: people who know they’ve been hacked, and people who don’t know they’ve been hacked but have been,” Hewitt said.

    Merrill said his branch of Homeland Security has decided to treat the First Responder Resource Group as a component of the Department of Homeland Security for purpose of research and development. Using input from the FRRG, Merill said, field tests contributed to development of a disposable, wireless chemical testing device. It attaches to the belt, can perform an assay and send the result to the on-scene commander.

    Merill said his agency is fielding ideas for emergency response technical projects to fund. “It’s from your perspective – you dictate to us where we’re going to put our research dollars,” he said.

    Merill said 22 different agencies – more than 180 first responders – participated in the Harris County, Texas, operational experimentation event recently, while an Alabama operational experimentation event is on tap later this month.

    Fowlkes, of the FCC, noted the agency’s consideration of improving dispatchable location information in buildings, its elimination of prefixes for centralized phone systems and the improvements to emergency alert system.

    Fowlkes also said the FCC recently investigated the aftermath of Hurricane Michael and how emergency communications centers were able to cope with the devastation. “Redundancy and route diversity are central to resiliency for PSAPs,” she said.

    But she said slow restoration of wireless service in the hardest hit areas also showed weaknesses in the system. An FCC news release summed up the problems as “insufficiently resilient backhaul connectivity, inadequate reciprocal roaming arrangements, and lack of coordination between wireless service providers, power crews, and municipalities.”

    Other official business of the meeting included approving a change to the association’s bylaws proposed by past APCO President Gary Gray. The change ads “or council” to Section 10.1 of the Bylaws to clarify that governance bodies carrying he “council” moniker (i.e., Executive Council and Commercial Advisory Council) would be guided by the same requirements of other bodies, such as the Board of Directors and committees, that “a majority of the voting membership of the respective body shall be necessary and sufficient to constitute a quorum for the transaction of business.”

    The membership rejected a second proposed change to the bylaws that would have prevented online members from holding elected office within any chapter of the association.