DHS survey finds high rates of municipal interoperability

Published 13 December 2006

Almost two-thirds use compatible radios for some purpose, though day-to-day use lags; survey is the first to use a refined definition of interoperability; Chertoff points to study as proof that municipalities can change

Communications interoperability remains a major challenge on the municipal level, but there are signs of improvement, according to a new DHS report. The National Interoperability Baseline Survey, which receives almost 7000 responses from the 22,000 emergency response agencies queried, found that two-thirds of them rely in some degree on interoperable radio systems. Approximately one-third said they use interoperable communications in day-to-day operations, while another third said they use it only for extraordinary events. Not surprisingly, larger age cities were far more likely to use such systems than were their smaller cousins. The survey is said to be the first of its type to assess national interoperability based on a comprehensive, detailed definition.

“The survey reinforces the fact that interoperability is achievable,” said DHS secretary Michael Chertoff. “That technology works today and is available. The willingness of emergency response leaders and local officials to make this issue their priority is what will continue to drive progress on one of 9/11’s most important lessons.”

-read more in Alice Lipowicz’s Washington Technology report