Carnegie Mellon's Jon Peha Chairs Briefing To Improve
Broadband Opportunities for Public Safety Officials
PITTSBURGH—Carnegie Mellon University's Jon Peha will moderate a panel discussion at noon, Monday, July 23 with four public safety representatives to discuss how a few emergency agencies are making effective use of broadband technology. The session will be held in room 2105 of the Rayburn House Office in Washington, D.C.
The panel discussion comes at a time when the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is preparing to release prime real estate in the radio spectrum, some of which is intended for public safety. The 700 MHz band is ideal for broadband services, which Peha's panel will argue are essential for addressing the need for a national safety communications network. Experts say a better communication system for firefighters and other emergency rescuers during the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in New York City and Hurricane Katrina crisis could have saved many lives.
Peha, associate director of Carnegie Mellon's Center for Wireless and Broadband Networking and a professor in the departments of engineering and public policy and electrical and computer engineering, reports that public safety communications systems could be improved if the federal government provided greater leadership and support rather than leaving the matter to thousands of independent local agencies.
"The entire system could be greatly improved if existing commercial systems were used to complement government systems and advanced capabilities such as broadband were employed," Peha said.
Peha's research has also shown that because U.S. policy views this infrastructure as a local matter, America's first responders have a system that "fails more often than necessary, consumes more spectrum than necessary and costs more than necessary."
Other panel participants will include Steve Correll, executive director of the Arizona-based National Law Enforcement Telecommunication System; Robert LeGrande, deputy chief technical officer for the District of Columbia; James Craige, a sergeant with the Alexandria, Va., police department who leads officer-training programs in the use of technology for law enforcement agencies nationwide; Mark Grady, general manager of New Paris Telephone in New Paris, Ind., and developer of a new 911 project for the state; and Dean Hairston, a major with the Danville, Va., police department and a consultant for the National Institute of Justice.