7 communities win $26M for cross-border SOS messaging

One-time grants made available for helping first responders talk across jurisdictional lines

The Homeland Security Department is sending $25.5 million to communities along the United States’ borders with Canada and Mexico to test innovative new ideas for interoperable communications, officials announced.

The communities competed for the funding under the Border Interoperability Demonstration Project, a one-time program to explore new tools for communicating across jurisdictions when responding to a disaster or other emergency.

The grants are intended to help state, local and tribal communities try out “innovative, effective, and adaptable solutions for improving emergency communications,” Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said in a May 2 news release.

The money was authorized by Congress in the Implementing Recommendations of the 9-11 Commission Act of 2007. It can pay for equipment, planning, training and exercises. The legislation specified that DHS should select at least six communities for the funding, three at the U.S northern border and the others from south of the border.

The winners of the $25.5 million in border communications funding are:

  • City of Yuma, Arizona—$4 million for voice and data integration.
  • San Diego Fire-Rescue - $4 million for regional command and control communications.
  • Washington County, Maine - $4 million for enhanced communications and infrastructure.
  • Wayne County, Michigan - $4 million for regional border interoperability solution.
  • Northern Tier Consortium, Montana - $4 million for border interoperability solution.
  • Lake County, Ohio - $4 million for multiagency, multijurisdictional infrastructure and marine domain awareness project.
  • City of McAllen, Texas - $2 million for Rio Grande Valley border interoperability communications.

About the Author

Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.

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