National broadband solutions would solve a number of the challenges that currently exist with first-responder information sharing. According to panelists during a hearing before the House Homeland Security Committee, federal lawmakers should make a nationwide, interoperable wireless broadband network a priority.
This recent Urgent Communications report focused on the hearing, entitled “The Attacks of September 11th: Where We are Today.” The hearing took place just three days before the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. The events of that day in 2001 glaringly exposed interoperability flaws in communications among first-responders, highlighting the need for broadband solutions.
The most poignant impact was the failure to communicate to all police officers and firefighters to evacuate the World Trade Center towers before they collapsed. While some police officers did receive the order, many firefighters never did, perishing in the devastation. Had broadband solutions been in place, lives could have easily been spared.
Lawmakers in the House and Senate are currently considering a number of bills that would fund the build-out of a public safety LTE network to support broadband solutions. This network would be designed to resolve a number of interoperability issues, yet none of the legislative proposals have been voted upon beyond the main committee level.
Former 9/11 Commission co-chairman, Lee Hamilton said during the hearing that this slow process is a significant source of frustration. He expressed his belief that it is less important to decide on the approach than to just get it done. Hamilton can’t understand why the problem is still not solved 10 years after the fact. The lack of proper broadband solutions to support seamless communications led to lost lives on 9/11 and during Hurricane Katrina.
While Hamilton favors the reallocating the 700 MHz D Block spectrum for public safety, he stressed that the most important move was a settlement among Congress over their differences and provide first responders with access to broadband solutions to support the best communications tools available.
Tom Ridge, former Homeland Security Secretary echoed Hamilton’s sentiments by confirming the technology exists. He plainly asked, “Where’s the political will to get it done?” He went on to confirm that the provision of robust, reliable broadband solutions for first responders would prove beneficial in numerous emergency situations.
Public safety across the board could be dramatically improved if nationwide broadband solutions were implemented to support voice, data and video, not just to respond to terrorist attacks, but also natural disasters or horrible accidents.
We weren’t prepared for optimal communications on 9/11. Today, 10 years later, we still remain at risk.
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Stay in touch with everything happening at ITEXPO… follow us on TwitterSusan J. Campbell is a contributing editor for TMCnet and has also written for eastbiz.com. To read more of Susan’s articles, please visit her columnist page.
Edited by Jennifer Russell