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Standards BEHIND 

ANSI takes a look at some of the standards behind the scenes driving the advancement of innovative technologies and ingenious solutions for global challenges.

emergency communications

Be Resilient Together! April is Emergency Communications Month


What are some of the biggest threats to emergency communications, and how can we collectively navigate threats as they arise?

This April marks the third annual Emergency Communications Month, launched by the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA). The 2024 theme, “Resilient Together,” sheds light on the importance of emergency communications in building resilient critical infrastructure and the need to work together. CISA has released new resources including emergency guidance that outlines ways to bolster emergency communications.

Threats to Emergency Communications and Solutions in Progress

Threats to the current emergency communications environment are pervasive: CISA reports that cyber disruptions to 911 call capabilities, for example, can impair the public to request assistance. Radio frequency jamming at an incident site may endanger first responders and hinder lifesaving operations.

“Defending public safety and emergency communications systems from cyber threats is critical,” CISA reported. “Cybersecurity is a shared mission across all levels of government, the private sector, nongovernmental organizations, and the public.”

As part of its effort to raise education awareness, CISA encourages critical infrastructure organizations; state, local, tribal, and territorial government; and others to significantly bolster communications resiliency and emergency preparedness by enrolling in free priority telecommunications services, with details listed on its website.

CISA also notes that emergency communication centers and public-safety answering points are transitioning from analog 911 systems to digital or Internet Protocol (IP)-based systems (known as Next Generation 911, or NG911), “creating faster and more resilient communications systems.” ANSI member NENA: The 911 Association provides information on 911 systems and NG911 on their website, including the American National Standard NENA-STA-010.3e-2021, NENA i3 Standard for Next Generation 9-1-1.

Furthermore, CISA explains emergency communicators must defend against attacks from adversaries seeking to interfere and/or profit. The agency works with “emergency communications partners to improve preparedness capabilities to counter threats, mitigate critical vulnerabilities, and manage incidents as well as help organizations build resilience, design technology securely, and manage risk before incidents occur.”

Standards Support Emergency Communications 

Various standards support many elements of emergency communications, from emergency voice systems to emergency response robotics.

As robotics rise in the front lines of disaster response, standards help assure safety. ASTM E2854-12, Standard Test Method for Evaluating Emergency Response Robot Capabilities: Radio Communication: Line-of-Sight Range, quantitatively evaluates a teleoperated robot’s capability to perform maneuvering and inspection tasks in a line-of-sight environment. The standard was developed by ASTM International Subcommittee E54.09 on Response Robots.

Another standard, NEMA SB 50-2021, Emergency Communications Audio Intelligibility Applications Guide, assists specifiers and Authorities Having Jurisdiction with the concepts and terminology used to enhance intelligibility for emergency voice paging systems. The standard was developed by ANSI member the National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA).

Both UL 2524, the Standard for In-Building 2-Way Emergency Radio Communication Enhancement Systems, developed by UL Standards & Engagement, and ATIS-0700028 v1.1, Location Accuracy Improvements for Emergency Calls, developed by the Alliance for Telecommunication Industry Solutions (ATIS), guide emergency communications via radio and phone call.

Access more information, including guidance, via CISA’s Emergency Communications Month webpage.

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