The North Central Texas Council of Governments (NCTCOG) serves a 16-county region of North Central Texas, which is centered around the two urban centers of Dallas and Fort Worth. The lack of Interoperable Communications has long been a barrier to effective inter-agency communications given the need for a multi-agency response, whether for a natural or man-made disaster, or for day-to-day operational incidents calling for response from another department or agency or from another jurisdiction.
Throughout this region, public safety agencies operate over a number of different frequencies from the VHF, UHF, 800 MHz, and low bands. This often makes it very difficult for neighboring jurisdictions to request assistance on major incidents. It is not uncommon for emergency responders from the same jurisdiction to have difficulty communicating at the scene of fire, hazardous materials spill, or other incidents.
Everyone has heard about the 9/11 disaster that took the lives of hundreds of police and fire personnel. A report from the ATLAS Project stated, "From numerous interviews gathered as part of a fire department inquiry into the events of September 11th, it would appear that non-interoperability was at least partially responsible for the loss of 343 firefighters and 60 police officers at the World Trade Center."
Speaking of an Ohio River flood and the rescue efforts of public safety officials, the Department of Natural Resources said of interagency communications, "..the only interagency communications were public safety officials literally yelling to each other across the flooded rivers because their radio systems were incompatible."
This regional planning initiative will provide local public safety agencies and local policy makers a direction by which agencies throughout the region may have effective interoperability.
In connection with this effort, the North Central Texas Council of Governments (NCTCOG) is also coordinating a variety of related public safety radio communications planning initiatives through the Community Services and Emergency Preparedness Departments.