9 Years (and $7 Billion) after 9/11 Attacks, U.S. Still Waiting for Emergency Radio Networks

Thursday, September 09, 2010
If another Sept. 11 type of attack should occur in a major American city, there’s a strong chance that local police and firefighters won’t be able to communicate with each other by radio, despite years and billions of dollars trying to correct the exact problem that arose in New York City in 2001 and again during Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005.
In its 2004 report, the 9/11 commission advised Washington that a special public safety radio network was needed to allow law enforcement and fire departments to speak to each other directly during a crisis, which currently can’t be done because each public safety operation uses its own radio system. Since this recommendation was made, Washington has distributed $7 billion in federal grants and other appropriations over the last seven years to establish a national network for emergency services to work in tandem.
But the only thing to show so far for this expenditure is some regional improvements in communication. New York has managed to link up its public safety agencies, and the San Francisco Bay Area is hoping Motorola will do the same for its emergency responders after receiving $50 million from the Department of Commerce.
Many experts say it will be years, if ever, before a single nationwide public safety radio system becomes a reality, writes The New York Times. The big policy debate is between those who want a greater share of the broadband spectrum to be allocated to a public safety network and those, including the Obama administration, who want to auction the airwaves to commercial companies that could build wireless networks and make them available to the government in times of emergencies.
-Noel Brinkerhoff
9 Years After 9/11, Public Safety Radio Not Ready (by Edward Wyatt, New York Times)


Leave a comment