The Interoperability "SWEET" Spot

Interoperability and technology solutions in general have inundated the public safety market. With so many solutions available, there must be some easy method to help guide first responders through the selection process. After reviewing the local...


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Through the use of multiple canned messages, many emergency operations plan (EOP) notifications can be automated such that they become dynamic and make the EOP more effective. The EEWN is being used by the Virginia Fire Chiefs Association to provide E-News to its members for both general and sensitive information. It also has the ability to attach files such as pdf documents, images and/or maps or other instructional files. EEWN also provides free weather warnings to anyone in the United States directly to alphanumeric pagers, wireless phones, Blackberry devices, e-mail, etc. Subscribers can self-register within 30 seconds or the administrator, if desired, can establish lists.

In short, Charlottesville has determined its IGs and overcome them by implementing the aforementioned solutions. In less than five minutes and operating from a single vehicle, the following can be achieved:

  • Voice connect between disparate radios and wireless devices
  • VoIP
  • Satellite telephone service – fixed and wireless (wireless within the hotspot)
  • Quarter-mile wireless network hotspot
  • Wireless video enabled (wireless digital video camera included)
  • Internet access with 512k broadband download
  • Notification/alerting system accessible from any Internet-enabled device

All of this can be purchased in a single interoperability suite, or individually and can be purchased by local government off of the GSA contract and definitely hits right on the Interoperability SWEET spot.

An important end note: There are many other good interoperability solutions that may suit your department’s needs. The intent of this column is to report on the tactical interoperability equipment that was purchased to support the Charlottesville public safety agencies and to provide a process that you may apply to your interoperable communications purchases.


Charles Werner, a Firehouse® contributing editor, is a 28-year veteran of the fire service and is deputy fire chief of the Charlottesville, VA, Fire Department. Werner serves on a number of local, state and federal interoperability working groups, and is technology chair for the Virginia Fire Chiefs Association and chair of the Commonwealth of Virginia First Responder Executive Committee. In addition, he serves on the SAFECOM Executive Committee and Advisory Group.