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Governor Announces Projects to Improve Communication Between Emergency Responders

Friday, March 25, 2005  Contact: Office of Communications 404-651-7774


Federal Funding will Help Law Enforcement Agencies & First Responders Talk

ATLANTA - Today Governor Sonny Perdue announced two projects designed to improve communication between Georgia law enforcement and first responders towards during emergency situations. Public safety agencies communicate over different frequencies including VHF, UHF and 800 MHz.  The variety of communication methods cause difficulty for neighboring jurisdictions to request assistance during major incidents.  According to members of Georgia's first responder community, reliable communications that cross jurisdictional lines is a key initiative on the local, state and national level.

“Creating a system of shared communication will not happen overnight,” said Governor Sonny Perdue. “It will require access to the right technology, the right governance and adequate funding to make it happen. We are laying the foundation now to make interoperable communications a reality. This has the potential to save lives, and it is part of my vision for a safe Georgia.”

The Georgia Emergency Management Agency (GEMA) will coordinate the distribution of U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) funding for interoperability projects. The city of Atlanta, Fulton and DeKalb Counties represent one of 50 urban areas in the nation receiving funds from the DHS Urban Area Security Initiative (UASI). In FY04 and FY05 combined, Atlanta, Fulton and DeKalb received a total of $23 million. With this funding, these local governments have developed a project to enhance radio communications between first responders. The project will combine state of the art equipment with the existing 800 MHz radio system.

Another project, funded by the DHS Law Enforcement Terrorism Prevention Program (LETPP), made $9.7 million available to law enforcement communities throughout Georgia. Upon agreement by the Georgia Sheriff's Association, Georgia Association of Police Chiefs, Georgia Municipal Association, Association of County Commissioners Georgia, Georgia State Patrol and Georgia Bureau of Investigation, cross-jurisdictional communication was identified as a primary need. Utilizing existing radio infrastructure, the groups plan to install radio interface technology in dispatch centers, bridging communications between various officials, and enhancing regional response. With current funding, the project's goal is to provide agency-to-agency communications to cover 75 percent of the state's population, along with two mobile communication units which can be deployed respond to populations in the remainder of the state that are not covered.

Because of ongoing leadership in the interoperable communications effort, Georgia is serving as the host state for the National Governors' Association's (NGA) Policy Academy on Wireless Communications. Georgia was one of five states selected by NGA to participate in the Academy, along with Idaho, Louisiana, Nevada and Wisconsin. The objectives of the Academy include developing a wireless interoperability requirements analysis, identifying the governance of such systems and creating a template of best management practices. The Academy conducted its first session at the Georgia Institute of Technology's Global Learning and Conference Center Monday, March 21 through Wednesday March 23, 2005.

“I am pleased that Georgia will be taking a leadership role in this critical area,” said Georgia Homeland Security Director Mike Sherberger. “Interoperability of emergency communications has been identified as a priority for many states. The work of this Academy will help governors and other policymakers develop statewide plans that improve communications and ultimately provide better protection for our citizens.”