CIO Richard Spires said the department has set up a joint program office for law enforcement agents to swap tactical radios (such as the one pictured above) for modern smart phones within five years.
“This is a very big initiative,” Spires said at the AFCEA-Bethesda Law Enforcement Information Technology Day conference Wednesday.
“We want to transition from Land Mobile Radios to a 4G LTE (Long-Term Evolution) world,” Spires said. The LTE technical standard applies to smart phones developed in 2011 or later.
One of the prime motivators for the change is the “promise of on-demand video to law enforcement agents in the field. That is very compelling, and will support effective use,” Spires said.
Another factor is the desirability of mobile devices that can allow for biometric identification checks in the field for individuals detained near the border, he added. Customs and Border Protection agents have been asking for that capability, he said.
Spires said the office is reaching out to potential industry partners to leverage available capabilities already in the market. DHS expects to carry out an innovation competition with prizes to spur development of additional capabilities for its needs, he said.
DHS recently awarded a contract valued at a maximum of $3 billion over five years to 30 vendors of tactical radios. Spires said the department expects to continue to support land mobile radios leading up to the mobile migration.
Spires said the interagency National Information Exchange Model (NIEM) has provided the framework 16 federal departments to exchange data, including DHS, Justice, Health and Human Services. He also said the framework creates a common platform to access numerous state databases for license plate holders, essentially creating a nationwide license-plate search capability that allows officers to check whether a plate is reported stolen or whether its owner is wanted on suspicion of criminal activity. However, NIEM hasn’t received line-item funding from Congress, he added.
“I am trying to get a line item for it in the budget,” Spires said. “I have tried for three years, and I am not giving up.”