Press Release

Gillibrand, NYPD Commissioner Kelly Call for Nationwide Wireless System to Effectively Respond to Major Crisis, Thwart Attacks

Apr 11, 2011

New York, NY – U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly urged Congress today to pass critical public safety legislation before the 10th Anniversary of the 9-11 attacks that would create a nationwide wireless broadband network for emergency responders. The Public Safety Spectrum and Wireless Innovation Act would create a nationwide, interoperable wireless broadband network equipping all first responders across local, state, and federal levels with advanced information-sharing tools and technology in the event of a major crisis. The bill, co-sponsored by Senator Gillibrand, would result in quicker response times and effective information sharing among all first responders and public safety officials.

 The City has led the nation in improving radio command and coordination between the NYPD, FDNY and other regional first responders. Since the 9-11 Commission Report identified poor communications between the agencies during the 9-11 attack and rescue efforts, the City has significantly improved interoperability. The City’s law enforcement, however, has a severely limited capability to communicate with federal agencies and cannot communicate with first responders at all outside the New York City region on an interoperable network. The lack of common nationwide broadband radio frequencies dedicated to public safety and a nationwide mission critical network prevent City’s first responders from effectively providing real-time response to a national crisis and block the NYPD from fully leveraging data-sharing technology in an effort to track down criminals and fight terror.

 “New York City remains the number one target for terrorists around the world who want to harm Americans,” Senator Gillibrand said. “Nearly ten years after 9-11, it’s time to bring our first responder technology into the 21st century. If we’re going to keep New Yorkers safe, we must ensure that local, state, and federal first responders can effectively communicate with each other in real time during a national crisis.”

 “Like virtually all other public safety organizations, the New York City Police Department relies principally on the use of two-way voice radios to communicate with responding officers and direct them to a scene,” said Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly.  “However, this technology is extremely limited.  We cannot use it to exchange electronic data.  And although we have made progress on local radio interoperability, the lack of a common radio spectrum prevents us from establishing a truly seamless nationwide system for all first responders.  The legislation co-sponsored by Sen. Gillibrand to reserve part of the spectrum for first responders is critically important to New York and nationally.”

 The Public Safety Spectrum and Wireless Innovation Act would help the NYPD to:

 Share critical data, video feeds in real time with the federal government and other law enforcement agencies.  NYPD would be able to instantaneously share live video feeds, photos, and other data at the scene with federal government and other agencies. NYPD can also compare fingerprint results with local, state, and federal databases.

 Access critical information immediately. Thousands of officers on patrol across the City would be able to receive critical information from NYPD’s Real Time Crime Center, the first center in the country that has the capacity to analyze billions of records, on his/her wireless device before arriving at a particular location or when an attack, crime, or emergency takes place. The broadband network could also provide cops with an immediate, digital snapshot of the suspect, including address, prior arrest history, and other critical details.

 Make complex NYPD operations easier and safer. In responding to last May’s car bombing attempt, using wireless technology to remotely control a robot would have reduced the risks of managing multiple cables and navigating on-the-ground obstacles. Complex NYPD operations, such as diffusing devices at bomb scenes, would be safer and easier.

 New York City is already using wireless technology to implement innovative initiatives, such as license plate reader technology, which is central to the City’s counter-terrorism efforts in lower and midtown Manhattan. This technology has successfully located wanted murderers and stolen cars. However, the city is currently limited in broadband capability due to the lack of enough public safety grade radio spectrum and a dedicated network to share that information.

 The Public Safety Spectrum and Wireless Innovation Act would allocate 10 megahertz of spectrum, known as the “D Block,” to public safety. It would also ensure the development of technical and operational standards to establish nationwide interoperability and provide for voluntary incentive spectrum auctions to pay for the cost of creating a nationwide, interoperable broadband network.

 Beyond New York City, firefighters, police officers, and other public safety professionals throughout New York state and across the country still communicate on different frequencies and with different systems, creating barriers to provide a coordinated and efficient response during an emergency. 

 Senator Gillibrand has written a letter to Senate leadership urging a vote to pass this legislation before the 10th Anniversary of the 9-11 attacks.

 President Obama has also called for the development and deployment of a nationwide wireless broadband network, including the D Block, to provide public safety agencies with greater levels of effectiveness and interoperability.