First responders want more bandwidth for emergency communication

Groups representing public-safety organizations are pushing Congress to open up more radio spectrum for emergency communications so the nation can have enough bandwidth to create an interconnected, high-speed network for data, video and voice transmissions. The report of the 9-11 Commission called for just this sort of network.

"Eight years later, we still do not have the ability to communicate with each other," San Jose, Calif., Police Chief Robert Davis, who serves as president of the Major Cities Chiefs Association, said, Federal Computer Week reports. "That is unacceptable."

The conversion to digital television last year freed up 10 megahertz of spectrum for emergency communications, but the first responders want Congress to set aside another 10 MHz for them so systems can be more interoperable. "Today, we solve interoperability through a number of patches and links that are like nothing so much as a patchwork quilt," Richard Mirgon, president of the Association of Public Safety Communication Officers, said during a Washington press conference last week. With the additional bandwidth, public-safety agencies would be able to create a single network that would open up nationwide roaming, according to Mirgon.

To learn more about this issue:
- take a look at this Federal Computer Week story