Interview with Sally Fay, Communications & Outreach Director and Statewide Interoperability Coordinator (SWIC) for the State of Indiana
State of Public Safety Communications in Indiana
Indiana recently completed building a statewide land mobile radio (LMR) 700/800 Mhz system. The P25 system has about 160 sites and nearly 90,000 users in all 92 Indiana counties with 95% guaranteed portable and on the street coverage. With operations and maintenance costs of $100 Million over the next 20 years, Indiana promises users the system will be available during broadband transition and will provide the latest in hardware and software technology for years to come.
Indiana Integrated Public Safety Commission
The Indiana Integrated Public Safety Commission existed before 9/11 and served as a model for much public safety legislation that came after. In the mid 2000s, the Indiana Commission added a statewide interoperability executive committee that has representatives from each of the 10 homeland security districts. The committee is the working group for the state, serving as the policymakers, and advising on grants and other policies and procedures.
The Future of Broadband in Indiana
Planning is a broad term because everyone, including First Responders, are using broadband. “The key is embracing the technology and have the policies and procedures to back it up. [Sally] thinks one of the biggest challenges obviously is the data sharing agreements that you need - the management and storage policies.” All communications activities now include consideration for FirstNet implementation and guidance. Indiana already has close to 5,000 active devices on FirstNet in the state.
FirstNet Applications and Services in Indiana
Video is an important component - one considerable factor is how to get the video from the officer to the Emergency Operations Center (EOC) or state agency. Many state and local agencies in Indiana are using drones for search and rescue. “The use of the technology is already there, but FirstNet will obviously give us the pipeline to deliver it.”
Several weeks ago, there was a school shooting in Noblesville - the first place in Indiana to go all FirstNet. Official reports have not been released, but it seemed the system worked well. Commercial users experienced inability to use the networks, while all the first responders were able to connect and operate normally because they had FirstNet.
Indiana as a Home Rule State
“We have a good working relationship at the county level, and in most cases at the agency level, across the state. There is a lot of trust. We trust locals to make their own decisions; they trust that we will work with them. That’s how we tackle it here in Indiana.”
Indiana is a home rule state and the locals have the ability to make their own decisions. The Commission’s governance structure and outreach program has been very effective in their ability to get everyone into the same room and talk about FirstNet and interoperability. The give and take between locals at the county level and at the district level is a real success story.
“FirstNet - that’s a game changer for public safety. The fact that this nationwide broadband network exists now. It is uncharted territory. We are pioneers as we start to define these policies and procedures and how to use it. But that technology is absolutely amazing and breathtaking in its scope.”