INPUT, the authority on government business, forecasts that the state and local public safety interoperable communications marketplace in the U.S.A. will grow to US$5.5 billion by 2012, including US$3.4 billion from various federal funding sources. Recently the National Telecommunications and Information Administration issued the Public Safety Interoperable Communications (PSIC) grant program, which will provide nearly US$1 billion for agencies and jurisdictions to improve public safety communications to get these systems closer to where first responders need them to be. However, limited gains will be made this time around because an absence of common standards and leadership from the federal government leaves officials in positions to make complicated decisions without the needed guidance.
“Lacking clear guidelines for standardization, states and localities will purchase a wide variety of systems and equipment,,” said Tim Brown, analyst, homeland security for INPUT. “We will see investments in basic radios and repeaters, millions of dollars spent on gateways and shared channels, and hundreds of millions spent on completely new, statewide, interoperable networks..”
With Project 25, the standards for public safety digital equipment and systems are set to be complete by the end of 2008 at the earliest -- they will not be finished in time to guarantee interoperability with this latest wave of funding. However, the Strategic Technology Reserve requires states to have an interoperable solution in place while they continue to achieve their long-term goal of having interoperability plans that will be guided by the upcoming standards. As a result, additional opportunities will continue to be created for vendors well into the next decade.
“It is an exciting time for vendors who operate in the public safety communications marketplace,,” added Brown. “With tight deadlines for the PSIC grant on the horizon, vendors will need to step in and help agencies and jurisdictions incorporate interoperability into their “as is” public safety communications systems. This will be the first time that every state will have such a plan in place. Restrictions as to what can and cannot be done to achieve short-term interoperability will be limited, as long as the vision of long-term goals, like P25, is not abandoned.”
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