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My favorite television program is NCIS, an acronym that stands for naval criminal investigation service. Two of the investigators are techno geeks who possess impressive degrees from even more impressive institutions. Their combination of intellect and quick wit makes them a cross between Albert Einstein and Jason Bourne.

They do have one habit that’s quite annoying, at least from the perspective of their boss, Special Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs: they have a tendency to speak in techno geek, and the typically stern Gibbs — no dummy himself — constantly reminds them to relay their discoveries to him in terms the erstwhile navy gunnery sergeant can grasp.

Yesterday, Juliette Kayyem, assistant secretary of the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Intergovernmental Programs, offered similar advice to the roughly 400 attendees of the National Conference on Emergency Communications in Chicago, which is being presented by the DHS Office of Emergency Communications. Kayyem reminded attendees that while they might not see themselves as politicians, they need the support and authorization of policymakers for the communications projects they are contemplating. She advised, “Talk to them in English.”

It’s advice that would bring a smile to the face of Agent Gibbs.

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Insights from Donny Jackson concerning the most important news, trends and issues.

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Donny Jackson

Donny Jackson is editor of Urgent Communications magazine. Before joining UC in 2002, he covered telecommunications for four years as a freelance writer and as news editor for Telephony magazine....
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