Updated: Oct 20
DoD Public Safety Communications (PSC) Solution leveraging the DoD-High Microsoft 365 Government Community Cloud (GCC).
ACES is a business productivity and solutions innovation company focused on helping government organizations leverage the Microsoft 365 GCC to streamline and automate government operations. As a Microsoft Charter Partner, we specialize in the areas of Content Services, Process Automation, Data Analytics, and Training.
Federal Government / Defense.
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Advanced Data Governance
The DoD has a Public Safety Access Point at each DoD facility that must be constantly manned with equipment that fully complies with Federal Government Public Safety Communications (PSC) regulations. The DoD CIO is responsible for ensuring the network and IT equipment in each PSAP complies with all PSC requirements. This ensures interoperability with all other National and Civilian Public Safety Communications services. The DoD CIO must have an accurate understanding of the hardware and software needs in all DoD PSAP facilities to effectively manage this broad, diverse, and critical emergency communications network.
Until recently, there has been no way for DoD CIO to effectively track all the equipment and requirements for the thousands of organizations that are required to operate a PSAP. ACES created a SharePoint solution to track information for all DoD PSAPs that has enabled DoD CIO to ensure timely upgrades to PSAPs while enhancing collaboration across the PSC community.
The DoD managed PSAPs are distributed across thousands of military bases and locations throughout the world, with a wide variety of power, equipment, and local regulatory requirements that would simply be too hard to manage centrally. To achieve this, we allocate funds for equipment and infrastructure at these locations, enabling local procurement of equipment that integrates into the local networks. Another important responsibility of the DoD CIO is to ensure all PSAPs have the necessary resources and guidance to guarantee the interoperability of PSAP with all other PSC community networks and services.
Due to large variations across so many globally distributed locations, keeping track of the status of equipment to ensure compliance has historically been accomplished via site visits and inspections. As the rate of upgrades and the importance of modernization efforts have increased, modernizing all sites to a globally connected, standards-driven environment requires a better approach to expedite results, especially given the massive travel restrictions due to COVID. DoD requested ACES explore a technology-based solution to this problem. ACES analyzed the situation and discovered the PSC community has operated in an isolated and disconnected way since inception as their priority requirement was to ensure integration with local 911 responders. They developed close working relationships with local and regional organizations but had no need to collaborate on a broader scale. In addition, a wide variety of equipment was being used based on local vendor supply chains. The problem of modernizing the PSAPs was not just a major technological challenge but a deeply cultural one as well.
The ACES strategy was to start by using technology to connect personnel in PSAPs in a way that provided them with tangible benefits. Once they began to see themselves as part of a global community vs. a local service it would be easier for them to realize the need for standardization and modernization of equipment and processes. ACES used Microsoft Teams as the initial technology to start bringing personnel in the PSAPs together. The meetings were scheduled on a regular basis by DoD CIO to provide updates to the PSC community on changes coming while giving the PSAP personnel a direct voice to those at the top of the PSC chain of command in DoD. This strengthened meeting attendance and caused PSAPs no one was aware existed to surface in order to be part of the meetings. The simplicity of connecting in Teams along with the rich voice and video communication was a huge help in building confidence across the community that the new Microsoft 365 environment was an impressive and capable technology.
After several meetings with no technical glitches the community began to get so comfortable with Teams, the members who were still dialing in over phone began to get chastised by other members who were joining over their computers and using VoIP. People often commented how surprised they were that Teams was able to work so well over DoD Networks, which historically crippled video conferencing solutions to the point they were unusable. Next, we developed a contacts list of all the PSC and PSAP personnel to include their organization, job title, associated PSAP, and all the standard contact information. They could add things about their areas of expertise so if someone had a question related to that area they could quickly find someone who could help. We then created a list to track the equipment at each PSAP and enabled the personnel to fill in information about the equipment at their locations. We used a Lookup column to link the personnel in the PSC contacts list with each PSAP location.
As the PSC community continued to meet, they had several heated discussions with senior leaders in DoD CIO as they got more comfortable expressing their ideas and sometimes strong disagreement with directions being given by DoD CIO. The heated exchanges almost always ended up with a better understanding of the problem by both sides and ultimately a more effective approach in unifying the community and modernizing their emergency services.
Gradually, the PSC community grew strong internal relationships and began to form its own tribe that transcended the technolgy.When it came time to task the PSAPs to enter and maintain the data needed to understand their equipment and software status relative to modernization requirements, they had all been involved in establishing the proper data fields right down to the choices in the choice fields and descriptions that explained any business rules or considerations to be made when filling out each field. Filling out the data, keeping it accurate, driving toward a globally integrated network that used standard equipment and technology had everyone’s buy-in and support without asking.The power of the Microsoft 365 Cloud fundamentally enabled the emergency response hotline community in the DoD to transition from locally bonded groups to a unified global tribe that is able to work together using Microsoft 365 almost as well as if they all lived in the same small town.
The unification of the strongly divided and regionalized PSC community enabled PSC modernization efforts to achieve the local support needed for success. Ultimately, modernization of PSAP equipment will lead to dramatically improved response capabilities and significantly reduced cost and maintenace due to standardization and homogenity of equipment. This facilitiates upgrades, replacement costs, and simplifies maintenance.
Additionally, the ability of PSAPs with certain types of equipment to find other PSAPs using the same type of equipment were able to connect and learn from each other. In many cases, long-standing problems that local technicians were unable to resolve had been solved at another location. For the first time in the history of the PSC community, PSAP personnel were able to reach out to other similarly situated sites and either benefit from their innovative solutions or pool resources to solve a shared challenge. The PSC community and DoD have derived significant value from this solution thanks to the stable and performance capabilities in the Microsoft 365 stack.
"I wanted to share my thoughts on your performance over the past year. Under your direct leadership, the innovation you and your team have brought to bear in C3I has been transformational. Your team has turned technology into a force multiplier for C3I when we needed to interface with our PSC, SATCOM and TCMP community. The C3I SharePoint portal, database solutions, and your Teams ability to get results in the Microsoft 365 environment have exceeded expectations and are a bright light on the SharePoint scene in CIO."
Government Lead Tactical Communications, C3 Infrastructure
C3, DoD CIO