Wednesday, February 17, 2010

We couldn't help but notice.......

As many of our readers know, we are aware of the efforts of some suppliers to divert prospective public safety communications users from P25 technology to alternatives. Many of these prospective customers have been awarded 2009 AFG awards based specifically on the purchase of P25 communications equipment. Without getting technical, we will simply say that if your mother sends you to the store to buy bread, and you come back with candy, there COULD be a problem! That's why we couldn't help but notice the comments of an executive of a major communications vendor in a recent on-line publication.

The following comments of John North, General Manager of the Kenwood General Systems Group appeared in the February 17, 2010 on-line news published by Radio Resource Media Group. For the full article, click here. Mr. Norths selected comments with a few comments of our own in red.

“One of the many and more important benefits of NEXEDGE (Kenwood's version of NXDN) is Project 25 (P25) features at an affordable price (In other words, it's "like" P25, but NOT P25). Some P25 proponents (Like DHS, FEMA, and SafeCom I presume) have said introducing another digital technology to public-safety agencies could hinder interoperability. Grant funding has been another issue surrounding the NXDN-based technology.

Federal grant programs imply (Imply? Oh really? Does that mean the same as REQUIRE?) agencies must deploy P25 equipment to garner funding. North said the recent update to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) SafeCom guide for federal grant programs can be interpreted as requiring P25 deployment for public safety (And who would the "interpreter" be? Would it be an official of DHS or someone else?). “But if you read closely, the door is cracked open for an agency with a compelling story to tell,” North said. “Grant funding is a little more challenging but it has been proven it can be done.” (I have looked all through the guidance and spoken with DHS officials at the State, Regional, and Federal level, and I can't find a reference to a cracked open door).

For those that would prefer to deal with supposition rather than fact, the comments from the aforementioned person sound pretty good. The problem is that they don't quite agree with the written facts. Those that choose to proceed on such advice should be aware of the fact that it is the one to whom the grant is awarded that is responsible for compliance - not some third party creative "expert" on cracking doors...

And, for what it's worth - the article relates to 9-1-1 and Drug task force funding, but we know that many Firefighter grant applicants could be confused by this "crack in the door" statement. The Assistance to Firefighters Grant consists of an application review process that involves numerous individuals and agencies for compliance with AFG guidelines. Each one of those reviewers makes their decision based on the content of the information submitted by the applicant. Even if an "exception" is granted (and I have yet to find anyone willing to grant such an exception in writing) to switch from P25 to an alternate technology, the act of making such a change appears be fraudulent unless everyone involved in the review process is made aware of the change and agrees to the change. Anything less makes the entire review process meaningless and potentially puts all involved parties in harm's way.