APCO International is the world’s oldest and largest organization of public safety communications professionals and supports the largest U.S. membership base of any public safety association. It serves the needs of public safety communications practitioners worldwide - and the welfare of the general public as a whole – by providing complete expertise, professional development, technical assistance, advocacy and outreach. I attended this year’s APCO Conference along with Ashwini Jarral, IJIS director of operations. It was held August 16 – 19 at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, DC.
During the conference, IJIS facilitated a panel on cyber security with respect to public safety communications and information systems. The three-member panel discussed wide-ranging cyber issues that can disrupt public safety services, including denial of service (DoS, DDoS) attacks, critical infrastructure disruption, and data security breaches. As U.S. public safety agencies grapple with these issues, another specific area of vulnerability exists relative to opening connections and sharing critical information across public networks in support of national law enforcement and fusion center missions. With the Internet as the medium for sharing this information, the session explored methods for sharing and safeguarding public safety data using national information security standards and advanced information security architectures.
As with previous APCO conferences over the past few years, FirstNet, cyber security, and Next Generation 911 were frequent topics of discussion. The exhibit hall floor this year housed CAD and Land Mobile Radio vendors, consulting and engineering firms, and test equipment suppliers and federal government agencies that operate in the public safety communications space.