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A new wireless radio network for first responders

Monday, February 21, 2011

Dear Fellow Nebraskans:

I'm pleased to share the news that Nebraska has accomplished a goal that we have been working toward for more than a decade -- to build a new statewide wireless radio system to enhance public safety.

I was excited to celebrate the final piece of this new state wireless radio network recently with first responders from a number of state agencies. Equipment installations for this project were installed across 25 eastern Nebraska counties to complete the system, which was activated during a recent event.

Communication among state agency personnel and NPPD utility crews is possible in every Nebraska county.

We partnered with the Nebraska Public Power District (NPPD) in this project, which allowed us to build one network that is jointly owned and operated by the State of Nebraska and NPPD. Rather than paying to build two separate networks, we worked together and developed a shared network that is more comprehensive by connecting public safety personnel from several state agencies and utility crews from the state's largest power provider. Our partnership offers the advantage of providing an additional layer of redundancy and reliability.

The project involved the installation of communications equipment at six Nebraska State Patrol communications centers across the state and at the NPPD Operations Center; construction of two new radio towers, along with upgrades and equipment installation on more than 50 radio towers across the state; and the installation of more than 1,300 radios used by the State Patrol, State Fire Marshal, Department of Roads, and NPPD.

In addition to providing a direct channel for communication among state personnel, this network was built to integrate with several regional networks already in existence for city and county officials. Mutual aid agreements will allow for the integration of the state and regional radio networks. That will allow Nebraska to achieve full interoperability with local first responders, county emergency management personnel, and even some federal personnel in Nebraska.

This is a major milestone for Nebraska. At a time when many states have abandoned plans for interoperable communication, Nebraska was able to build a statewide network because of our strong partnerships and our ability to work together.

This project has required detailed planning and intense coordination. It has been a phenomenal undertaking and I want to congratulate all of the many partners who made this possible. Their work is a perfect example of the collaboration and coordination that happens across Nebraska.

Clear communication is an essential part of emergency response. Developing a better communications system for first responders has been a top priority for Nebraska. I applaud the many partners who were part of the effort to make this network possible.


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Gov. Dave Heineman
State Issues