Interoperable communications was identified in the General Assembly's Criminal Justice Information Network report of 1995 as a critical need for public safety agencies when responding to emergencies.
After the attack on the World Trade Center in New York on September 11, 2001, it became even clearer that public safety officials needed to have the ability to communicate with one another on a single radio.
From the report by the National Commission on the Terrorist Attacks on the United States:
"The inability to communicate was a critical element at the World Trade Center, Pentagon, and Somerset County, Pennsylvania, crash sites, where multiple agencies and multiple jurisdictions responded. The occurrence of this problem at three very different sites is strong evidence that compatible and adequate communications among public safety organizations at the local, state, and federal levels remains an important problem."
The National Governor's Association Center for Best Practices has identified interoperable communications as one of the nation's top ten homeland security priorities:
"Interoperability is a serious, pressing public safety problem that severely undermines the capacities of law enforcement, firefighters, and other first responders to respond to and manage emergency situations. The tragic events of September 11, 2001, focused attention on the urgent need for public safety and other agencies to communicate reliably and effectively with each other when called upon in a crisis."
The National Task Force on Interoperability defined interoperability as:
- the ability of public safety agencies to talk to one another via radio communication systems - to exchange voice and/or data with one another on demand, in real time, when needed.
Public safety officials in North Carolina should be able to communicate directly with other public safety officials without having to relay the message through a communications center.
When put in place, interoperable communications will benefit all public safety agencies when dealing with daily emergency calls or large scale disasters. This will make fire, rescue, and law enforcement agencies better able to serve the citizens of North Carolina.
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