Interoperability standards needed

The federal government should move quickly to set interoperability standards, so that emergency communications and public safety agencies can coordinate effective responses to natural disasters and terrorist attacks, according to new research.

The biggest hurdle to interoperability is the lack of uniform radio and network standards that would allow states and different levels of government to communicate with each other, said Stephanie Atkinson, an analyst with the consulting firm Frost & Sullivan of Palo Alto, Calif.

To promote interoperability, the federal government is providing $3.7 billion for police, fire and emergency medical personnel, the so-called first responders, according to Frost & Sullivan. Of this money, 20 percent goes to the states, and 80 percent to the cities and counties. Jurisdictions that receive grants must provide 25 percent in matching funds.


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