Interoperable radio - a good idea; first responders still waiting for DHS

Ever since 9/11, Congress and homeland security experts have been calling for interoperable, wireless communications for first responders. It has not yet happened - and it won't for a while yet.

Ever since 9/11, Congress and homeland security experts have been calling for interoperable, wireless communications for first responders. It has not yet happened - and it won't for a while yet. The Dept. of Homeland Security will not even adopt standards until 2007, according to DHS IG Richard Skinner, Washington Technology reports.

Instead of developing its own standards, the directorate’s Office for Interoperability and Compatibility is supporting the Project 25 suite of eight standards being developed by the wireless industry.

However, Skinner found shortcomings with the department’s approach.

“The nature of the voluntary, consensus-based process limits the availability and timeliness of standards for adoption by Science & Technology [S&T]. As a result, the efficiency by which S&T adopts standards is hindered,” he wrote. Typically, industry efforts to build standards take five to eight years to come to fruition, the report said.

Only one of those eight anticipated Project 25 standards is finished, and DHS has not adopted it because only a single vendor builds Project 25 infrastructure. Three more Project 25 interface standards are expected by late 2007, and DHS should adopt Project 25 at that time.

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