As APCO officially kicked off the formal part of the conference, it soon became obvious that the predominant topic was cybersecurity attacks and how the communications arm of the public safety sector will play a significant role in fighting them.
The importance of cybersecurity was the theme of the keynote speaker, Retired General Keith Alexander, the former director of the NSA and commander of the U.S. Cyber Command during an attention getting presentation on the role cybersecurity will play in the public safety sector.
The next battlefield will be cybersecurity and public safety communications will be on the front lines of this battlefield, he said, citing the recent events of Russian meddling in any number of cyber vectors from elections to denial of service (DDoS) attacks to attacks on United States and other nation states infrastructures, banking, commerce and more. And not only the Russians are involve in cyber war, although Alexander implied that they were the first to use “cyber power.” They are often behind many of the other attacks.
Another topic Alexander touched upon was the need for unified communications. As long as this editor has been involved with RF and public safety, there is probably no larger issue than the lack of interoperability. According to Alexander, this must change in today’s first responder communications networks. With zero day, hour, even minute threats, first responders must be able to marshal all the components of public safety quickly, and seamlessly.
Much of what Alexander addressed has its roots in effective, immediate and transparent emergency communications. We have been waiting for that for a long time. Has the time finally come?
Ernest Worthman is the Executive Editor of Applied Wireless Technology magazine. A Life Member of the IEEE, his 20-plus years of editorial experience includes being the Editorial Director of Wireless Design and Development and Fiber Optic Technology, the Editor of RF Design, the Technical Editor of Communications Magazine, Cellular Business, Global Communications and a Contributing Technical Editor to Mobile Radio Technology, Satellite Communications, as well as computer-related periodicals such as Windows NT. His technical writing practice client list includes RF Industries, GLOBALFOUNDRIES, Agilent Technologies, Advanced Linear Devices, Ceitec, SA, and others.