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NGA Center to Help States Improve Public Safety Interoperable Communications

November 22, 2008  | 

To help states ensure their communication capabilities are adequately prepared to respond to an emergency, the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices (NGA Center) has announced six states—Arizona, Arkansas, Idaho, Massachusetts, New York and Washington—selected to participate in the Public Safety Interoperability Communications Policy Academy: Focus on Governance.

"Emergency response officials consistently cite the ability to communicate with other first responders as critical to being able to better protect the public in the face of any emergency," said John Thomasian, director of the NGA Center. "This Policy Academy will provide states the opportunity to addresses the coordination needed among key stakeholders to build efficient, effective interoperable communications."

The Policy Academy will focus on helping selected states improve their governance structures that oversee statewide communications interoperability planning and implementation. States will have the opportunity to work closely with and learn from other states and a faculty of government officials, researchers and other experts.

Each participating state will identify an interdisciplinary team comprised of representatives from the governor's office and key state and local agencies to be a part of a nine-month process that includes two meetings and customized technical assistance. Participating states will identify a set of specific objectives to improve governance for statewide interoperable communications and submit a final report of activities and outcomes.

Public safety communications is a critical issue facing state and local policymakers. States continue to struggle to ensure that first responders from various agencies, jurisdictions and levels of government can speak to each other during emergencies or at the scene of a disaster.

In the 2007 NGA State Homeland Security Directors Survey, interoperable communications ranked first on a list of homeland security advisors' concerns. According to the survey, nearly every state has a statewide interoperable communications governance structure in place, however, many states need to draw in additional stakeholders or formalize their activities to improve interoperability.

To learn more about NGA and states efforts to improve interoperable communication, visit

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