In an exclusive interview with Firehouse® Magazine, U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno and Associate Attorney General Raymond C. Fisher answer the questions America's first responders are asking about two important issues - our preparedness for domestic terrorism and the allocation of radio...
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With regard to seeking spectrum adjacent to existing public safety bands, it should be noted that the PSWAC report identified the need for 2.5 MHz of spectrum for interoperability located proximate to the majority of current public safety users. This is something that the department continues to seek.
Does the Department of Justice have any suggestions to improving interoperability and overall public safety radio communications?
FISHER: We do. As the attorney general stated, one of the things we're focusing on is public education. As part of this effort, in conjunction with the Public Safety Wireless Network (PSWN) - a program chartered under the auspices of the Vice President's National Perfor-mance Review and which was co-managed with the Department of the Treasury - and the National League of Cities, we recently published a user-friendly layperson's guide to public safety and radio spectrum. We have distributed the guide to every member of Congress. Soon, we will complete a layperson's video guide to public safety and radio spectrum. The video primarily will be directed to state and local public officials. We hope to get these officials focused on the need to plan, design and fund public safety wireless communications systems that are both interoperable and spectrum efficient.
The PSWN program continues to lay the technical groundwork for resolving the interoperability problem at the federal, state and local levels. The ultimate goal of the PSWN program is to develop a plan by 2001 for achieving national interoperability. The program is engaged in a number of case studies focusing on individual regions and testbed demonstrations of interoperability equipment.
The program also recently mailed an interoperability questionnaire to a randomly selected 25 percent of the approximately 3,400 state and local fire and emergency medical service providers. This fire/EMS interoperability study is a companion to an earlier Department of Justice survey of the law enforcement community. The results of these surveys should provide very valuable information to help us overcome the public safety interoperability problem. Your readers who received a copy of the survey are encouraged to participate.
The entire public safety community can assist in making decision makers at all levels of government understand this issue. Once the issue is understood, we are confident that the decision makers will ensure that our nation's public safety agencies receive the spectrum and funding necessary to enable them to carry out their critical missions.
(Readers can receive copies of the layperson's guide by calling 800-851-3420 and asking for the "Public Safety and Radio Spectrum Guide." Readers can learn more about the PSWN program at the PSWN World Wide Web site www.pswn.gov.)