States Enhance First Responders’ Emergency Communication

WASHINGTON—The National Governors Association (NGA) today announced that five states—Alaska, Hawaii, Illinois, Utah and West Virginia—will participate in a policy academy on emergency communications interoperability.

“Interoperability” refers to how federal, state and local emergency responders communicate with each other by voice, data and video on demand and in real time. Interoperable emergency communications are essential to effective public safety, response and recovery operations in the wake of disaster.

“All governors share the priority of ensuring first responders are prepared and equipped for an emergency,” Alaska Gov. Bill Walker said. “In Alaska’s vast and forbidding terrain, it is essential that all levels of response work together. This opportunity with NGA will help states plan for the constantly changing emergency communications landscape.”

As that landscape continues to evolve, first responders and public safety agencies are forced to rely on systems and equipment that are often incompatible with each other. The policy academy will focus on developing specific strategies designed to strengthen current statewide interoperability plans, including assessing governance structures and standard operating procedures.

An NGA policy academy is a highly interactive, team-based, multi-state process in which a number of states develop and implement a plan to address a complex public policy issue. Participating states receive guidance and technical assistance from NGA staff and faculty experts, as well as consultants from the private sector, federal agencies, research organizations and academia.

To learn more about NGA’s Homeland Security and Public Safety Division, click here.