Interoperability Pushed Amid Latest Emergencies

ATLANTA -- Imagine having a portable radio at an emergency scene that will do as much, or more, than the smart phone you have clipped to your belt. That day is coming but technology and legislation have to catch up with the need.A team of communications...

As Hurricane Irene was bearing down on the East Coast, Cannon, who was talking with federal authorities just before it was his turn to speak, said public safety broadband was more than a pipe dream, it's a necessity.

"We have tons of 800 narrow band systems, but we still don't have interoperability," Cannon said. "When I move resources from west to east, like I am this weekend, I need that."

Cannon said he's a little frustrated that the general public, armed with smart phones, have more capabilities than emergency services with high powered radios and far greater needs for the technologies.

Another frustration for Cannon is the fact, he believes, that infrastructure for a broadband for emergency services already exists, but the legislation and political will to make it all link together isn't there.

"We could probably do it without putting up another single antenna," he said.

Cannon sees little or no reason why emergency services can't have it right now.

"Communications is the backbone of emergency services," he said. "When communications systems fail, people die."