Insight by Verizon Frontline

Verizon prepares for public safety events, helps federal law enforcement with ‘blue sky preparation’

The latest developments with 5G technology have the potential to greatly enhance preparatory activities for federal law enforcement agencies by providing faster...

Blue sky preparation refers to the process of proactively preparing for incidents, practicing deployments, testing interoperability with partners, etc. when there is no active engagement.  “Blue sky” is a way of lining up resources so they are in place and ready to go when “gray sky” days come around.

It is a crucial aspect of any partnership between a telecommunications company like Verizon and federal law enforcement agencies, as well as other federal, state, and local partners because it enables them to work together effectively in the pursuit of national security and public safety with respect to critical communications.

“Blue sky preparation is extremely important,” John Larregui, a managing partner with Verizon, said during a Federal Insights discussion sponsored by Verizon Frontline.

The primary responsibilities of Larregui, his team and the Verizon Frontline Crisis Response Team are to help ensure that federal agencies are receiving the critical communications that they need 24/7/365.

“If we know that a hurricane is coming, we can preposition our assets,” said Larregui. “If we know that something is happening with the DOJ, we can preposition assets and we can get people in place so that when something may or may not happen, we’re ready.”

By engaging in blue sky preparation, Verizon and federal law enforcement agencies can identify potential response and communications bottlenecks and develop enhanced training approaches. Additionally strategies can be developed to help address concerns before they become a serious problem when a gray sky event occurs.

That may involve sharing intelligence with other federal, state, local and industry partners and collaborating on security measures such as network monitoring, threat analysis and incident response planning.

Ultimately, the success of any partnership between Verizon and law enforcement agencies depends on their ability to work together in a rapidly evolving threat landscape.

“With the thousands of pieces of hardware and devices and tools that we have, we have to make sure they’re up and ready from a deployment standpoint and a user standpoint,” said Andrew Fusco, a Verizon Frontline Crisis Response Manager.

When heading to the scene of an emergency, for example, first responders don’t want to make themselves any more vulnerable than they already are.

“The last thing you want is to have an incident where you’re scrambling to get hardware that needs an update, and you don’t have the capacity to do the update in the field,” Fusco said. “It is always better to identify those communications concerns early versus in an active deployment.”

Preparedness among feds and Verizon

Federal law enforcement agencies employ a range of strategies and tactics to prepare for responses to a variety of threats and emergencies. The preparations are designed to ensure that they are able to respond quickly and effectively to any situation, from a manhunt to a terrorist attack.

One of the most important aspects of preparation for law enforcement agencies is training, which Verizon often plays a role in.

“There’s nothing better than to be in that open environment and have the ability to have something fail and fix it in the field,” Fusco explained. “The agencies are so open to that partnership when they’re in the field with us, and we’re both learning side by side.”

Strong partnerships between federal law enforcement agencies and state and local agencies are essential. Federal law enforcement agencies work closely with other government agencies and first responders to ensure a coordinated response to any emergency.

That involves establishing clear lines of communication, situational awareness, sharing information and resources and collaborating on response plans.

“In many cases, local agencies or state agencies are responsible for what’s happening in their area, so the federal government or the federal agencies come in to help support them,” said Larregui. “It’s going to be state, local and federal working together, because nobody can do it alone.”

New tech for now and the future

The latest developments with 5G technology have the potential to greatly enhance preparatory activities for federal law enforcement agencies by providing faster and more reliable communication, data transfer and real-time monitoring capabilities.

Law enforcement agencies can transmit large amounts of data and video feeds more quickly and efficiently than with previous cellular or communications technologies.

That can help enable more robust communication and collaboration between agencies, allowing them to coordinate response efforts more effectively.

“What 5G is going to help bring to the front lines is that high-speed, low-latency capability,” Fusco said. “Law enforcement agencies and fire departments are using more and more video – which is a high bandwidth solution to get situational awareness and understanding of an incident – and 5G allows for that to stream in real-time and in high-def.”

In addition, 5G can support the use of advanced technologies such as drones, autonomous vehicles and facial recognition systems.

“You can utilize new technology that wasn’t available in the past and put it on that network and you’re going to get that seamless video,” said Larregui. “This technology is always changing, and there are more and more uses for it every single day.”

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