P25 Compliance Assessment Program Gets Slowly Back on Track
Monday, March 23, 2015 | Comments

By Sandra Wendelken
The Project 25 (P25) Compliance Assessment Program (CAP) is moving slowly forward after stalling for months. Several compliance assessment bulletins (CABs) are available for comment, and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) plans to reconstitute a governing board within six months.

The CABs include two testing bulletins that have recently been updated along with reporting CABs and lab equipment requirements. The new CABs add conventional interoperability to the program and update test standards to the latest drafts of the P25 standards. Those interested have 30 days to comment on the CAB documents. More information about submitting comments is available here.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is working to re-accredit the eight CAP laboratories. DHS approved three entities in 2013 as accreditation bodies. The labs have 12 months to complete the re-evaluation and product re-testing process, which, as a rule of thumb, is typically broken up into a six-month re-accreditation phase and a six-month re-certification phase for P25 products. All the suppliers’ declaration of compliance (SDoCs) for conventional-capable products must be updated, said Andrew Thiessen, deputy program manager of the Public Safety Communications Research (PSCR). Many products incorporate both conventional and trunked capabilities, and those products would also need the new conventional tests run, he said.

John Merrill, acting director for DHS Office for Interoperability and Compatibility, said the P25 CAP governing board should be established within six months. Once the governing board is in place, the previously established charter will be updated by the governing board. DHS will announce a nomination process for board members soon, he said.

The Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials (APCO) International recently appointed Steve Devine P25 program manager in a grant-funded position. “I’m in support of DHS OIC and to help reconstitute the governing board,” Devine said. “We are working to announce the nomination process shortly.”

In addition, PSCR plans to release a request for proposals (RFP) for a contract to write the test documents for P25 CAP conventional conformance. Only performance testing is currently conducted, and conventional interoperability testing is planned in the new CABs. Conformance is the third stool of complete compliance testing, said Thiessen. Trunked conformance documents will follow.

“Once we get the tests written, they aren’t final,” Thiessen said. The group will go through a transparent process that asks for comment on the conventional conformance tests, and then it will incorporate the comments. The new CAP governing board would eventually approve the test.

A new website housing past SDoCs is available at www.firstresponder.gov/p25cap.

Attendees at an International Wireless Communications Expo (IWCE) session cited the need to add Inter Subsystem Interface (ISSI) and Console Subsystem Interface (CSSI) testing to the program. In addition, users said there should be more education about CAP so buyers better understand the benefits and goals.

“We need to have outreach to the user community about the benefit you get from CAP,” Devine said. “There needs to be more education to the user.”

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