• Uncategorized

Communication Interoperability




Interoperabilityis the aptitude of a system or software to work with or use parts ofanother system. Commutation interoperability by definition,therefore, can be said to mean the capacity to communicate usingdifferent devices, across multiple jurisdictions and disciplines tosupport emergency responders in the management of incidents whenneeded and as authorized. Since the world trade center 9/11 attack inAmerica, one of the most pressing concerns that emerged was the needto improve emergency scene radio communications. The inability tocommunicate has been a critical element in all disasters that Americahas suffered and reoccurrence serves as strong evidence thatcompatibility and adequate communication among emergency respondersat the state, federal, and local level remains a huge problem. In aninterview with the local secretary of the Department of HomelandSecurity, in as much as the federal government has spent many milliondollars in enhancing communication equipment’s for the emergencyresponders, more still need to be done to make sure thatcommunication interoperability is managed accordingly. Theinterviewee, Ben Johnson is a decorated public service officer whohas served at different levels of security agencies and helped drawlegislations that have seen improvements in security in America. Thisessay examines the issues that the interviewee brought up andprovides possible solutions to these matters.

Oneof the issues that arose from the interview as a hindrance tocommunication interoperability was the network interoperability.Research carried out by the security department found out that whileaccessing disaster exercises, technicians are always huddled aroundtrying to integrate different devices for them to be able to enhancecommunication for their teams. They found out that their biggestchallenge was in enabling radio gadgets connected to differentnetworks to work together. Network interoperability, therefore,becomes an important factor in enhancing communicationinteroperability (Alperen, 2011). When different jurisdictions canseamlessly communicate, various emergency responders can step in andcollaborate quickly and efficiently thus making the differenceespecially when lives are on the line. For example, when a disasterhits a small town, without a doubt, the agencies involved inemergency response would be overwhelmed. An influx of human resourcesfrom other nearby jurisdictions would be of great help, but the lackof communication and coordination of conflicting networks complicatesthe already dire situation.

Asignificant amount of money has since been directed towards theenhancement and integration of systems across multiple agencies.Resources have been directed toward integration of systems, multibandradios, and command posts among other solutions. However, the bestpossible solution for network interoperability would be the use anddeployment of an Inter-RF Subsystem Interface gateway commonlyreferred to as ISSI (Bissell, 2013). This portal can integrate thenetwork infrastructure of multiple cities that are in proximitywithout having to rely on any other outside sources. By linking theradio systems from different manufacturers using ISSI, it is possibleto achieve a high level of interoperability (Alperen, 2011). The ISSIgateway is designed to provide a network of shared systems that willallow free roaming of it uses within its coverage area. Imagine ascenario that allows emergency responders to freely roam throughout azone without fear of their ability to connect and communicate. Hence,this is the future that is being strived for, and it can be achievedseamlessly by the use of ISSI gateway.

Thechallenges faced by the implementation of ISSI come from the vendorsof the components rather the radio systems. Those who are mandatedwith the supply of these elements will include their best features onthe part and praise the capabilities and features of their componentswithout disclosing that these features are proprietary to thevendor`s system. This proprietary nature of the component featureslocks out other systems and forces the user to have to use a singlevendor which limits choice and control of the components (Bissell,2013). According to Secretary Johnson, millions were spent in buyingradio systems, but the state was forced into spending more dollarsbecause of the restrictive rules that came with the system. In asmuch as network integration would help solve the issue ofcommunication interoperability letting radio system vendors controlthe system limits the capabilities of the gateway. Not every statewill be able to buy from the same supplier, which makes it necessaryfor providers to declare the proprietary nature of their systems toenable the purchasing state to understand in depth what they arepurchasing.

Moreover,to take care of this, it should be made mandatory for vendors todisclose all their exclusive features during the bid process.Understanding how these proprietary features indirectly or directlyaffect the purchasing states’ ability to easily secure areplacement of the component, as well as how they affect thematerial’s capacity to connect to the legacy structures and otherradio system is necessary (Bissell, 2013). It helps the statepurchase systems that can easily be integrated with the ISSI gatewaywithout having to pay the vendor more money to allow for suchcapabilities while using their system. There should also be industrystandards set for the vendors to ensure that their systems meet thebasic standards required to ensure commutation interoperability iswell taken care of by their systems (Bissell, 2013). These measureswould go a long way in reshaping the marketplace for radio systems.Gone are the days when technicians would buy and replace spare partsfor many systems without necessarily going through the originalinstaller. Today, vendors are allowed to install their systems whichinclude their very own components which must only be purchased fromthem. If this is allowed to continue then achieving communicationinteroperability will only be but a wild dream.

Regardlessof how this is considered, the federal government and the public needto work together to ensure communication interoperability isachieved. Communication interoperability requires the ability ofradio systems to work on a common infrastructure which will provideagencies with a choice of selecting equipment without having to worryabout the material`s ability to connect to multiple platforms. Havingthe capacity to integrate separate systems to a common platform overa large area goes a long way in ensuring statewide communicationinteroperability. It also ensures that different jurisdictions haveaccess to multiple public safety communication channels, helping withtheir response in case they are needed. Communicationinteroperability is continuously evolving, the next generation ofemergency responders will be able to use smartphones and tablets thatcarry with them vast amounts of information and can be used todeliver intelligent public safety communication. Already texting to911 has been rolled out. The next generation will see live videostreaming from the field offered in real time and allow emergencyresponders have a live view of the situation at hand. 


Alperen,M. J. (2011). Foundationsof homeland security: Law and policy.Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley.

Bissell,R. (2013). Preparednessand response for catastrophic disasters.Boca Raton: CRC Press/Taylor &amp Francis.