ANSI - American National Standards Institute
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Legislation Supports Wireless Interoperability Standards

New York, Oct 01, 2002

Voluntary standards equip the government with sound technical solutions to safety and health problems without creating additional cost and operations burdens. The latest in a series of cooperative efforts between government and industry was demonstrated in recent California legislation addressing wireless interoperability. AB 2018, authored by California Assemblyman George Nakano, holds the existing Public Safety Radio Strategic Planning Committee responsible for developing and implementing a statewide, integrated public safety communication system that facilitates interoperability based on specified technical standards.

In response to the communication problems encountered by some public safety agencies on 9-11-2001 in responding to the World Trade Center tragedy, many state and local agencies are assessing their communication systems and are encountering problematic levels of interoperability. Many public safety and emergency response teams are found to employ systems that operate in different radio frequencies, restricting their ability to communicate with each other and delaying critical resources during an emergency. AB 2018, signed on September 30th by California's Governor Gray Davis, requires the state committee to determine which agencies need new or upgraded communication equipment that is compliant with a body of wireless interoperability standards, also referred to as the Project 25, or P25 standards.

The P25 standards are developed using the open procedures required by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), with the guidance of ANSI members and accredited standards developers Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA) and Electronic Industries Alliance (EIA). Project 25 digital technology is specifically designed to improve communications interoperability among different agencies to enhance coordination and cooperation and save more lives.

"By working cooperatively with ANSI members TIA and Motorola, ANSI encouraged the California legislature to enact AB 2018, thereby helping to ensure the application of these standards to improve existing public radio systems and to develop interoperability among public safety departments," explained David Karmol, ANSI's director of public policy. "This is a clear demonstration of the ANSI federation working together," he said.

Karmol became aware of the pending legislation while in attendance at the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) annual meeting this past summer in Denver, Colorado. Following discussions with Motorola state affairs representatives at that meeting, ANSI assisted in educating legislators and legislative staff about P25 standards to impart the value of the use of voluntary consensus standards in the procurement of wireless communications equipment. To further encourage the passing of AB2018, the Governor and legislators were assured that the involved P25 standards were currently employed by several federal agencies, including the National Communications System and Department of Defense.

Karmol said, "We will continue to take advantage of opportunities like this to help the states follow the lead of the federal government in the wider use of voluntary consensus standards."

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