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Why Can't We Talk?: Working Together to Bridge the Communications Gap to Save Lives (Guidebook)

NCJ Number
Date Published
February 2005
105 pages
This guide provides public officials with information on planning, establishing governance structure, and technology strategies to achieve interoperability, the ability for all responding agencies to communicate on demand and in real time.
Interoperability is the ability of public safety officials and agencies to talk to one another via radio communication systems on demand, in real time, when needed. However, in many cases, public safety officers cannot even talk to their own agencies. There are five key reasons for this lack of communication: incompatible and aging communications equipment, limited and fragmented funding, limited and fragmented planning, a lack of coordination and cooperation, and limited and fragmented radio spectrum. This guide examines these barriers to interoperability and provides valuable information for local, regional, State, and national public officials on what needs to be done to overcome these barriers and how their involvement can assist in breaking down the barriers. The guide is designed to provide public officials with easy-to-understand information on interoperability which includes: (1) the definition of interoperability, the importance of interoperability to public officials, and the role of public officials in interoperability; (2) evaluation and assessment of public safety radio communication systems and financial resources and interim technology strategies; (3) planning for interoperability and the role of elected and appointed officials in the planning process; (4) understanding a governance structure for improving interoperability; (5) funding strategies for achieving interoperability; and (6) a historical perspective of radio spectrum and increasing the efficient use of spectrum.

Date Published: February 1, 2005