Magazine article Nation's Cities Weekly

State, Local Government Groups Bring Interoperabllity Message to Congress

Magazine article Nation's Cities Weekly

State, Local Government Groups Bring Interoperabllity Message to Congress

Article excerpt

The seven largest organizations representing state and local governments recently sponsored three Congressional briefings in an attempt to convince members of Congress to support the Broadband for First Responders Act of 2010 (H.R.5081), which would allocate the 700 MHz D Block of spectrum to public safety.

The speakers at the event included: Deputy New York City Police Chief Chuck Dowd, a 30-year veteran of NYPD and an expert on public safety communications; Bill Schrier, chief technology officer (CTO) for the City of Seattle, and Jeff Johnson, fire chief, Tualatin Valley, Ore., Fire and Rescue.

Chief Dowd began the discussion by explaining, "This is not just an interoperability issue--it's an operability issue. This National Public Safety Broadband Communication Network will fundamentally change how we do our work."

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Dowd went on to explain that the D Block is unique in its characteristics, making it perfect for public safety personnel, and why renting the spectrum from commercial networks will not suffice.

Dowd explained that during the May 1 incident in which a car bomb was found in New York City's Times Square, the bomb squad did not have enough secure radio frequency to operate their robots remotely. Use of commercial networks will not resolve this problem, only access to a secure public safety broadband network with sufficient capacity will.

This is because during a disaster, public safety personnel need immediate access to a network that is clear of private sector use. This concept is called "ruthless preemption"--kicking private users off the network when first responders need to get through.

As of now, no such network exists. The New York Police Department has been trying to negotiate such a system with private sector entities for years, and have been unable to come to an agreement. …

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