Several top public safety experts recently participated in a panel discussion about communications interoperability for first responders at the National Press Club.

"The Post Election Landscape for Public Safety Communications: 2007 Predictions and Recommendations" panel, which was sponsored by the First Response Coalition (FRC), concluded that 2007 would be a key year for communications interoperability for first responders.

The panelists included representatives from the Department of Homeland Security, the Federal Communications Commission, the Department of Transportation, and influential Senate committees. The panelists agreed that reaching a consensus definition for interoperability is key and that efforts to win funding and spectrum for first responders must be better organized.

Another key to interoperability is the 24 MHz. that was allocated to first responders from the digital television transition.

The panelists also noted that public safety has bipartisan support, meaning there is a good chance that Congress will pass "comprehensive national interoperability legislation" in 2007.

Steven Jones, executive director of the FRC, summarized the panel's conclusions thusly: "Public safety experts agree that adequate funding, sufficient spectrum, and a coordinated effort are needed to achieve interoperable emergency communications."
Abstracted by the National Law Enforcement and Corrections Technology Center (NLECTC) from the News Blaze (12/06/06).