A running joke about public safety communication is that first responders are only trying to catch up to the average teenager with a smartphone. But the issue really isn’t funny at all: The performance of the nation’s aging web of public safety networks, which often can’t communicate with each other, is a matter of life and death.
According to The 9/11 Commission Report, many of the first responders on September 11, 2001, lacked the ability to communicate with one another at the site in a situation where time was extremely limited. “One of the most critical things in a major operation like this is to have information,” one of the first fire chiefs on the scene told the Commission. “We didn’t receive any reports of what was seen from the [NYPD] helicopters. It was impossible to know how much damage was done on the upper floors, whether stairwells were intact or not.”
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