From low-cost open-source tech tools to better citizen services, government IT staffs show how creative -- and cost conscious -- they can be.
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The Department of Homeland Security operates more than 20 separate radio networks serving more than 120,000 front-line agents and officers. Most of these systems were deployed more than 20 years ago and often fail to provide sufficient coverage in remote locations. Many also don't meet federal mandates for encryption security and spectrum efficiency.
The Joint Wireless Program Management Office (JWPMO), chartered in April 2012 under DHS's U.S. Customs and Border Protection unit, in partnership with DHS Science and Technology (S&T) Directorate, took an innovative approach to tackling the problem. JWPMO teamed up with the Departments of Commerce, Justice and Interior to develop an enterprise-level broadband communications strategy and laid the groundwork to move from agency-owned-and-operated systems to the Nationwide Public Safety Broadband Network (NPSBN) and commercial subscriber-based services.
The NPBSN provides a crucial resource for DHS components to dramatically lower costs for building and maintaining wireless communications infrastructure. Without the effort, DHS was looking at spending $3.2 billion to upgrade its existing private radio systems department-wide.
The JWPMO team consists of representatives from across the Department of Homeland Security, including Cynthia Walters, acting executive director (seated at back right.)