Survey shows high levels of interoperability
Communications interoperability throughout the U.S. is on the rise, according to results from a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) nationwide survey of first responders and law enforcement.
Results of the national interoperability baseline survey, issued to 22,400 randomly selected law enforcement, fire response and emergency medical services (EMS) agencies, confirm that roughly two-thirds of emergency response agencies across the United States use interoperable communications to varying degrees.
Results were announced Dec. 8.
“The survey reinforces the fact that interoperability is achievable,” says Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff. “That technology works today and is available. The willingness of emergency response leaders and local officials to make this issue their priority will continue to drive progress on one of 9/11’s most important lessons.”
Survey findings indicate that agencies tend to be more developed in technology than they are in culturally related areas like standard operating procedures and exercises. It shows that cross-discipline and cross-jurisdiction interoperability at local levels tends to be more advanced than between state and local agencies. In addition, law enforcement, fire response and EMS agencies reported similar levels of development in most areas of interoperability.
The national interoperability baseline survey is the first interoperability assessment that uses a comprehensive definition for interoperability. It was designed in partnership with the emergency response community and assesses stages of development in five areas: governance, standard operating procedures, technology, training and exercises and usage.
The survey had a statistically valid response rate of 30 percent, with 6,816 agencies responding. Participation in the survey was evenly split between law enforcement and fire response and EMS.
Additional baseline survey findings are available on the SAFECOM Web site at www.safecomprogram.gov.
Through its SAFECOM program, DHS provides research, development, testing and evaluation, guidance, tools and templates on communications-related issues that improve emergency response through more effective and efficient interoperable wireless communications.