DHS to design interoperability standards for emergency communications equipment

Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff on Monday said the department plans to assemble a task force focused on performance standards for achieving emergency communications equipment that can work across jurisdictions.

Speaking at the Tactical Interoperable Communications Conference in Washington, Chertoff said over the next two months that the Homeland Security Department will invite "first responders" to participate on the task force, which will help guide purchasing decisions for equipment to aid communications among local, state and federal responders.

"The idea is ultimately not to dictate a particular form of product or a particular vendor but rather to lay down some standards," he said. Within two weeks, the department plans to conduct a baseline survey to gauge the current state of interoperability.

Since 2003, the department has allocated more than $2.1 billion to states for communications equipment and training. The department also issued a report Monday outlining uses of that money.

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