The Division of Homeland Security and emergency Services (DHSES) has awarded $102 million in grant funding to 29 counties across the state to help improve first responder communications and to promote a network of regional partnerships that will include state agencies, including $5.5 million to Rockland County. The awards will help expand radio coverage within and between counties, and improve the connections between their radio systems.
These awards represent the second round of funding to counties through the Statewide Interoperable Communications Grant program, a multi-year competitive grant supported by the state cellular surcharge revenue. The state’s 57 counties and the City of New York (which encompasses five additional counties) are eligible to apply to this program. Counties will use this State assistance to enhance radio coverage and communication interoperability with surrounding jurisdictions. Projects funded involve construction and installation of new equipment at broadcast towers and antenna sites; deploying microwave equipment to provide more reliable transmission between sites and public safety facilities; and implementing gateway technology so that counties can link systems together.
These improvements also include the ability to use designated national interoperability channels and other local mutual-aid channels among the various bands of public safety radio spectrum. In addition to investments in equipment, the Grant helps counties to formalize governance rules and operating procedures in a region, and conduct training and exercises for how first responders will communicate among each other when needed.
County Executive Spokesman Ron Levine said, “The funds will be used to purchase and install equipment that will provide the county’s first responders access to the national interoperability communications channels (V-Call/TAC, U-Call/TAC, and I-Call/TAC) and to establish microwave interconnection with the Hudson Valley Interoperability Communications Consortium partners. (Dutchess, Orange, Putnam, Rockland, Sullivan, Ulster, and Westchester).
“The mission of the Hudson Valley Interoperable Communications Consortium is to provide more efficient emergency services throughout the Hudson Valley Region via more interoperable, capable and efficient use of the collective resources of the counties in the Consortium. This project will improve emergency communications for the Nation’s federal, state, and local emergency responders by the Consortium’s establishment of formal decision making structures, collaboration across agencies and jurisdictions, implementation of NIMS planning and operational protocols, participation in shared training and exercises, and the development of communication capabilities to aid in preparedness, mitigation, response, and recovery efforts.”