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Guide to Radio Communications Interoperability Strategies and Products

NCJ Number
Date Published
April 2003
43 pages

This report describes three technical strategies for improving communications interoperability among public safety agencies and identifies the products currently available for implementing these strategies.


Interoperability describes the ability of public safety and health agencies to communicate with one another via voice or data communications on demand and in real-time. Unfortunately, many agencies in different jurisdictions use incompatible equipment and radio frequencies, making interoperability impossible. The interoperability of radio communications, especially, is important to the public’s safety. The three technical strategies to improve interoperability that are proposed in this report include the creation of one radio system that would provide communications for multiple agencies; the development of a common frequency and protocol so transmissions can be given and received by subscribers on different radio systems; and the deployment of a gateway device to receive transmissions from one radio system and rebroadcast it to another radio system. Following the introduction in section 1, section 2 discusses the importance of communications interoperability and explains the reasons why radio systems can be incompatible. Section 3 presents an overview of different technical approaches to interoperability, while sections 4 and 5 review the products currently available to establish interoperability. The products sections are cross referenced by frequency band and by product characteristics. The technical requirements of interoperability, while important, are only part of the overall approach to interoperability; working interoperability also requires governance, planning, funding, training, and operational policies. Tables, figures, appendixes, references

Date Published: April 1, 2003