U.S. Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-Palo Alto, took the anniversary of Sept. 11 to call for enactment of a nationwide interoperable communication network for first responders in emergencies.
Lack of such a system was held responsible for many deaths in the Twin Towers explosions, as well as in Hurricane Katrina, as first responders, working with antiquated systems, could not share critical information.
Eshoo said she has drafted, but not formally introduced, legislation in collaboration with U.S. Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Los Angeles. The proposal is similar to legislation proposed by U.S. Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-West Virginia, which calls for reallocating radio spectrum to public safety agencies and providers of wireless broadband.
Obstacles include financing, agency turf battles and methods for reallocating broadcast spectrum.
"On the 10th anniversary of 9/11, a fitting tribute to our first responders, who fought so bravely to save lives and lost their own, is to provide them with a nationwide, interoperable broadband communications network," Eshoo said in a statement this week.
"Congress should act decisively and quickly to address the unacceptable situation which remains in place a decade since the attack on our country.
"Other events since that day, including Hurricane Katrina and the Virginia Tech shootings, have continued to highlight why first responders need a nationwide, interoperable network to be able to seamlessly communicate with each other using any device."