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.

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