The National Emergency Communications Plan (NECP) is a strategic plan for improving emergency response communications and efforts in the United States. Emergency communications is defined as the ability of emergency responders to exchange data, voice and video. More than 50,000 independent agencies across the United States routinely use emergency communications.
The NECP was developed by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Emergency Communications to address a lack of interoperability among the communication systems used by the nation’s first responders. Communications interoperability is crucial so that law enforcement, fire fighting, rescue and emergency medical personnel can coordinate an efficient emergency response and access data at the scene of an emergency.
A lack of interoperability became obvious during the September 11, 2001 attacks on the Pentagon and World Trade Center, and again following Hurricane Katrina. Regional, state, and federal emergency response agencies were not able to effectively communicate due to disparate computer-aided dispatch and radio systems.
The National Emergency Communications Plan specifically addresses the operational aspects of emergency response. Ideally, first responders should have access to current technology that operates on agreed-upon standards, data that is stored and can be accessed in a distributed infrastructure and enough dedicated broadband to ensure communication during a state of emergency. The plan provides recommendations and defines measurable goals for federal, state, local and tribal authorities to establish a minimum level of interoperable communications by 2013. The recommendations help to guide, but do not dictate, the distribution of homeland security funds to assist authorities who are implementing the plan.
The NECP is the nation’s first strategic plan for improving emergency response communications. It complements homeland security and emergency communications legislation and initiatives, including the Statewide Communication Interoperability Plans.
Learn more about the National Emergency Communications Plan:
The Department of Homeland Security has more information about NECP.
Michael Chertoff outlines the National Emergency Communications Plan.
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