Commentary and information about public safety and security, intelligence and counterintelligence, open government and secrecy, and other issues in northern Idaho and eastern Washington.

Location: Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, United States

Raised in Palouse, WA. Graduated from Washington State University. US Army (Counterintelligence). US Secret Service (Technical Security Division) in Fantasyland-on-the-Potomac and Los Angeles. Now living in north Idaho.

Friday, October 28, 2005


The numerous analyses of the attacks on the United States on 9-11-2001 have all concluded that one of the major handicaps public safety agencies/first responders faced was the inability to communicate quickly and effectively with each other via their two-way radio systems. That failure has spawned increased interest in a solution, commonly called "interoperability."

Not surprisingly, industry is trying to find some way to both fix the problem and profit from it. For example, in an October 24, 2004, article headlined A Cisco System to Make Radios Work Together, The New York Times reports that "Cisco Systems plans to announce on Monday a new method - based on a widely used Internet telephone standard - for marrying the frequently incompatible radio gear used by emergency services agencies and businesses." Cisco Systems' product should be available in about a year, maybe less.

But the concept of Internet-facilitated interoperability is not new. The amateur radio community, ham radio operators, have been trying this since 1997. The first efforts in 1997 were not successful, but more recent efforts have been. For a detailed (read: nerdy) discussion of ham radio's project, go to The Internet Radio Linking Project (IRLP) webpage. The "How It Works" page, linked from the home page cited, gets into the details.

Once again, the amateur radio community has pointed the way toward solving a critical public safety communication problem. I hope that the Kootenai County Office of Emergency Management is encouraging the Kootenai Amateur Radio Society, a local ham radio club, to evaluate the IRLP for applicabilty in Kootenai County. It is a legitimate project for the Amateur Radio Emergency Services (ARES) and Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Services (RACES).




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