Friday, January 3, 2014

National Interoperability - Needed or Not?

We recently asked a focus group of Alabama Mayors, how they would rank seven services available to their city to improve daily as well as disaster communications needs.  The answers may surprise you!  Coming in at number seven (last place) was National Interoperability.  Even more surprising was how inexpensively, this could be accomplished as you will note from this excerpt of our recent Safe-Place report.

It probably comes as no surprise that the ability to talk to others outside the local area comes in dead last as an essential requirement in times of emergency.  While this could be useful in times of national emergencies by EMA, Hospitals, Military and Transportation agencies, it is of little or no value for municipalities.  A nationwide interconnected network such as the highly touted 700 MHz broadband data network already exists (and would be expected to be among the first communications systems to fail) through commercial cellular carriers, and a private network (FirstNet)  is being planned for use primarily by first responders.

The need for a highly reliable "over the horizon" communications system capable of operating ranges of 300 to 3000 miles COULD be of significant benefit if installed in a hardened structure with a roof top antenna (no tower) and available backup power.  HF radio equipment operating in the 1.6 to 29.9999 MHz range is ideally suited for providing "over the horizon" communications for voice, fax, email, and data communications at very reasonable cost

One of the better offerings is the ICOM F8101 priced at under $4,000 excluding transmission cable and installation is capable of statewide or worldwide coverage.  Unlike earlier HF radios, this radio does NOT require specialized set up or advanced operator training.  It is designed to be rarely used, but fully functional, easy to use, and reliable when needed. Product information is available at

Although ranked lowest in priority, we believe that every municipality should have at least one of these units available at the local hospital, large industrial plant (where it could have other benefits), at the electrical utility, or even at City Hall.  The money can be found to fund the purchase.  We'll be glad to assist. Call us anytime at 800.489.2611 if we can assist in any way.