View from the Top

Some advice for new Statewide Interoperability Coordinators (SWICs)

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Becoming a successful Statewide Interoperability Coordinator (SWIC) starts with defining success, developing a plan for success, and building a network to achieve success.

The extreme southwest tip of Virginia is slightly west of Detroit. This interesting fact underscores the challenges of organizing Virginia’s public-safety communications interoperability community of interest. With 95 counties and a multitude of independent cities and towns, the complexity of local and state government overlays a state that ranges from urban to remote rural.   Adding to this dynamic is the unique distinction of hosting various federal agencies in northern Virginia, possessing a significant military footprint and bordering the nation’s capital. Organizing stakeholders—regardless of the challenges in your state—is imperative to the development, support and ultimate success of any interoperability program.  

As Virginia’s FirstNet Single Point of Contact (SPOC), I developed an information-dissemination network that I realized could be leveraged for disseminating interoperability information, in general. Coining the term “Local Single Point of Contact” (LSPOC), I created a network of over 100 LSPOCs across Virginia that included individuals who were leaders/influencers within their respective public-safety communities. While the LSPOC network was initially intended to disseminate and collect information pertaining to FirstNet, it became readily apparent that this network could be leveraged to keep Virginia’s public-safety practitioners informed on all interoperability matters.

As you build your human network, you will discover certain people I refer to as “guardian angels.” Many individuals will be eager to help you succeed, and you will soon establish rapport with some individuals who are extremely knowledgeable and passionate about all things related to public-safety communications. It may be that your personalities click; regardless, you will develop relationships with these persons who will become valuable sources for trusted advice.

These individuals were critical to my success by providing a ready source of knowledge, advice and insights that I never would have perceived alone. While most will come into a SWIC position with public safety experience, I believe this “guardian angel” principle holds value for all. Whether it’s being brought up to speed on emerging technologies or suggestions on how to navigate local politics, every SWIC is well served by cultivating these allies. 

As you interact with your network and “guardian angels,” you will realize the interconnectivity of all the projects you are managing. Due to the multitude of issues competing for your time, you need to capitalize on any opportunity to leverage this interconnectivity to advance your program’s strategy. The opportunity to leverage my LSPOC network to support other purposes is an example of the interconnected nature of public-safety interoperability. Recognizing the complementary nature of all your projects—and taking advantage of this principle—generates a greater, collective momentum for your program. What you accomplish in one project may very well help start, or advance, another project.

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