Doug Bedell — July 23, 2007, 10:12 am

Funds for Communication Networks Announced

Comes a major opportunilty to practice the sort of regional communication link-ups we discussed in our last blog item.

Security InfoUpdate advises that the Department of Homeland Security is distributing a new round of nearly $1 billion to states and cities to improve communication linkages.

But the funds don’t guarantee that all security and emergency responders will readily start talking together.

Notes Security InfoUpdate: “Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said the money should get the entire country up to a basic standard of effective emergency communication by 2009 – but only if the local authorities coordinate with each other and avoid turf fights.

“That’s not something the federal government can make people do,” said Chertoff. “We can put the tools on the table, but the training and the willpower to use the tools has to rest with state and local officials.”

Moreover, not every community needs state-of-the-art equipment. “It’s not necessarily the case that everybody’s got to run out and buy new equipment,” said Chertoff.

n January, Homeland Security officials found that more than 60 percent of the communities studied had the ability to talk to each other during a crisis, but only one in five showed “seamless” use of equipment needed to also communicate with state and federal authorities.

Separately, Security InfoUpdate continues, DHS announced grant amounts to 46 U.S. cities considered at the highest risk of terrorist attack. New York again is getting less than it feels it needs. But Secretary Chertoff says there is danger in the hinterland as well.

“I think you’d be surprised at the number of comparatively small places where we have people that we are seriously looking at as potential operatives and they’re not in cities you think you would find them,” he said. “We can’t necessarily know whether they would be operational in a big city or whether they would be operational locally,” Chertoff added.

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