At New Orleans Jazz Fest, first responders tune in to multiband radios

DHS to test police, emergency communications

First responder teams in New Orleans will get an earful in the coming days as the Homeland Security Department tests its new multiband radios during the city’s annual Jazz and Heritage Festival.

DHS’ Science and Technology Directorate is launching a 30-day pilot of the technology, which will allow police, firefighters and other emergency response workers from multiple jurisdictions to communicate with one another.

The launch and a demonstration of the technology will occur May 4 during the jazz festival. The multiband radios — Harris Corp.’s Unity XG-100P — will enable communications between the New Orleans Department of Emergency Management and the police department during the festival, which runs through May 8.

Police and emergency radios typically operate on only one frequency, which makes communication among multiple organizations difficult. Multiband radios can switch frequencies, allowing for better on-site collaboration.

The festival, which began April 29, spans two weekends and attracts hundreds of thousands of people, which made it a good candidate for the latest tests of the radios. DHS is conducting 14 tests nationwide at events that draw large crowds and involve responders from multiple jurisdictions.

The tests began in July 2009. Other tests have been conducted at the 2010 Winter Olympics involving officials from Blaine, Wash., and Vancouver, Canada, and at a NASCAR race in February with officials from Phoenix and Yuma County, Ariz.

About the Author

Kathleen Hickey is a freelance writer for GCN.

Reader Comments

Mon, May 9, 2011 Travis DC

This isn't accurate: "Police and emergency radios typically operate on only one frequency, which makes communication among multiple organizations difficult. Multiband radios can switch frequencies, allowing for better on-site collaboration."

The radios typically operate in and on one band, usually multiple frequencies and various signalling protocols. To be clear this doesn't mean frequency agile as most commercial radios have a spedific frequency/signalling programmed in one channel(this has many names). Multiband radios can switch bands. The quoted Harris radio operates on VHF, UHF and another higher UHF band and changes channels that have specific frequencies programmed in each channel. Amateur radio has recognized the benefit decades ago and has had multiple band radios for just as long. Commercial multiple band units are just now becoming recognized/desired, way behind the times but thanks to forward thinking agencies like DHS, maybe Government can finally catch up.

Please post your comments here. Comments are moderated, so they may not appear immediately after submitting. We will not post comments that we consider abusive or off-topic.

Please type the letters/numbers you see above