If you don’t think the District of Columbia is working hard to improve public safety, then think again.
The District is beginning trials of a new system that would allow first responders, such as firefighters and Metropolitan Police, to link their radio communications with broadband Internet.
Radio over Wireless Broadband, or ROW-B, is going to improve the efficiency and speed of first responders, said Ayanna Smith, supervisory public affairs specialist at the office of the DC Chief Technology Officer.
“It will allow more flexible communication among first responders, including the ability to communicate between users of two different networks-the long-standing, narrowband public safety voice radio network and any new broadband network- and to create custom, ad-hoc talk-groups,” said Smith.
As it stands now, users of the different networks cannot communicate with each other seamlessly. The new technology would build on the network already in place instead of replace it.
The technology is only being tested, and while the preliminary tests have gone well so far, the government will decide upon full implementation by the end of the fiscal year, which is this month.
The new technology would in effect also make the streets of Georgetown safer, although the Department of Public Safety is not involved in the testing.
“There would be a significant improvement in the efficiency and coordination of responses to emergency incidents,” said Smith.
Some students believe that if the technology did become a reality, then DPS should consider finding a way to become a part of the system.
“I think that this system would make the whole city a lot safer,” said Connor Gaffney (COL ’11). “I also think that if DPS had a chance to join the effort, it would improve their efficiency, and I’d feel a lot safer walking around Georgetown.”
Since Sep. 11, the District has had its own interlinked communications system between the different first responder departments, but the new technology would make it much easier for first responders with different networks to communicate amongst each other.
DC was already unique in that it had the only 700 MHz public safety network in the country, but this new technology will make it even more special.
There are also alternative communications technologies that may be implemented, but some of them, such as “multimode radios,” are expensive and not as efficient.