System May Help Cross-Jurisditional Communication
Many emergency responders nationwide still lack the ability to talk to each other across different jurisdictions or even within their own. The Hampton Roads Region of Virginia, hopes to avoid this by testing a new “interoperable” communications system that lets local, state, and federal agencies communicate through a wireless radio network. The technology, unveiled the week of April 17, has officials concerned about whether they will be able to maintain and afford the system.
The Hampton Roads Planning District Commission and 16 cities and counties are using $6 million in federal port security grants to build a network of roughly 30 radio towers, which one official estimated would be nearly 100 percent reliable.
The system will be able to send voice, data, and images among different agencies via microwave and satellite technologies in a broad spectrum of frequencies. The approach will not be affected by several problems, including power failures, according to Arthur L. Collins, executive director of the commission.
Chris Essid, the coordinator for Virginia’s office of interoperability, says the office helped in creating interoperable systems for the Richmond, National Capital, and Hampton Roads regions, and now seeks funding to build one for Southwest Virginia. Meanwhile, Virginia Beach is leading a similar effort called Orion using a $6 million federal homeland security grant and $2 million in city taxpayers’ money.
Abstracted by the National Law Enforcement and Corrections Technology Center(NLECTC) from the Hampton Roads Daily Press (VA) (04/18/06); McGlone, Tim .