February 27, 2013 By Jim McKay
During Hurricane Sandy cleanup efforts last year in New York, out-of-state responders who showed up to lend a hand couldn’t use their radios to communicate with local officials. More than 10 years after 9/11 there is still an interoperability problem and a need for a national public safety broadband network.
That’s what Chuck Dowd has been saying for years, and now his efforts toward that goal are closer to reality. Dowd was named to the First Responder Network Authority board following tireless advocacy for the network. The board was set up to design and build a national public safety system.
After Sandy, Dowd said it’s clear that relying on private companies will have its limits when it comes to developing a national system. “These networks failed when we would have needed them most,” he told The New York Times after Sandy. “The idea of using commercial networks is a real concern for public safety.”
That’s why Dowd — who oversees New York City’s 911 system and police radio network, which dispatches more than 4 million radio runs annually — is an important voice in the effort to build a national communications network for first responders.