Office of Operations
21st Century Operations Using 21st Century Technologies

7.8 Interoperable Communications

Communication systems at times may be unable to communicate with one another due to separate channels or technology. Having the ability for entities to communicate with one another using their existing systems should assist in the identification of evacuation routes. As reported in the ARINC News article “ARINC Wins Nation’s First Communications Contract Based on SAFECOM Guidelines from DHS,” “It is the first project of its kind in the US, and the first ever to follow the guidelines for interoperability established by the US Department of Homeland Security’s SAFECOM program. ARINC will deploy its AWINSSM interoperability technology to enable more than 40 separate police, fire, emergency medical, and government agencies to communicate with one another while retaining their existing radio systems.”

There are other commercial communication systems available providing interoperable communications. Some of these systems identified in Top Priority: A Fire Service Guide to Interoperable Communications to provide communication interoperability include:
  • Cellular service with push-to-talk capability
  • Nextel Direct Connect radio communication network, which is a nationwide wireless voice and data system
  • One- and two-way paging services using cellular phones and/or Internet-ready phones
  • Console integration providing an integrated communications system by connecting several disparate communication systems into one interoperable system
  • Global position systems enabled cellular phones
  • Commercial global position systems location and tracking systems
  • Interoperability directory of emergency response services
  • Database look-up applications to provide emergency services with remote access to key information databases
  • Patient tracking systems such as Emergency Patient Tracking System using handsets or personal digital assistants
  • Nextel emergency response team (ERT), which responds to state and federally declared disasters.

February 7, 2006
Publication #FHWA–HOP-08-015