The Crisis in Public Safety Communications

Dec 08, 2006
8:00am1:30pm

Exactly five years to the day before the September 11, 2001 attacks, the FCC issued a report warning that a lack of interoperability among public safety emergency communications systems was preventing emergency personnel from protecting life and property. "Rescuing victims of the [1993] World Trade Center bombing, who were caught between floors, was hindered when police officers could not communicate with firefighters on the very next floor," the report stated.  Sadly, it was precisely such interoperability problems that would prevent over 100 New York City firefighters from receiving an evacuation order on September 11th before the towers collapsed. Until an improved public safety communications system is actually implemented, tragic outcomes will continue to haunt first responders to public emergencies.

The Crisis in Public Safety Communications brought together prominent scholars, policymakers, and industry officials to discuss solutions to this deadly serious problem. Major telecommunications scholars presented groundbreaking research on what causes the lack of effective communication between local public safety personnel, and how U.S. spectrum policies have failed to remedy this Balkanization problem.  This research was then discussed by two panels of industry executives, public safety officials, and policymakers with deep knowledge of the problems confronting us.

Symposium Publications:

These papers will be published in an upcoming symposium edition of the Federal Communications Law Journal. Please do not quote, cite, or distribute without the permission of the author.

Solving the Interoperability Problem - Gerald R. Faulhaber
Fundamental Reform in Public Safety Communications Policy - Jon M. Peha
Communicating After Disasters - Philip J. Weiser
Sending Out an S.O.S. - Jerry Brito

PowerPoint Presentations:

Impact of Hurricane Katrina on Communications Networks - Nancy J. Victory
Solving the Interoperability Problem - Gerald R. Faulhaber
Fundamental Reform in Public Safety Communications Policy - Jon M. Peha
Communicating After Disasters - Philip J. Weiser
Achieving Interoperability - Charles Werner