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“For everything from computers in the car to fingerprints in the field, we are slaves to the carriers,” says Chris Moore, the former police chief of San Jose, California. There are many stories where public safety is being throttled off the network or just can’t get access to the network when we need it the most.”The solution—or at least a partial solution—to these problems is something that public-safety officials have been calling for since the 1990s: a nationwide cellular network dedicated to public safety, one that wouldn’t become overloaded by commercial users in emergencies.This network wouldn’t necessarily replace first responders’ handheld radios for “mission-critical” voice calls, but it could give commanders in different agencies a way to communicate in disasters; and it would allow first responders to have reliable Internet.LA PORTE, Texas – A volunteer firefighter is facing charges after he crashed his pickup truck into a neighbor’s home in La Porte overnight.Blake Andrew Stevens, 31, is charged with driving while intoxicated and unlawful carrying of a handgun.Every September, pit masters converge on the Bolivar Peninsula from miles around to take part in the Port Bolivar Volunteer Fire Department’s Annual BBQ Cook Off.Teams battle it out for cash and prizes in the categories for Best Brisket, Best Ribs, Best Beans and Best in Show.As then–New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly noted at a congressional hearing in 2011: “A 16-year-old with a smartphone has a more advanced communications capability than a police officer or deputy carrying a radio.”To be sure, in many jurisdictions first responders use commercial smartphones.But that’s not an ideal solution, because commercial networks don’t always have good rural coverage and can get congested, especially during emergencies or even large sporting events.
”When the 9/11 Commission released its report in 2004, it identified communications failures as a “critical element” that undermined the response to the attacks.
The competition is fierce but friendly as some teams return year after year to fight for bragging rights as they help raise money in support of the PBVFD.
Teams start cooking Friday night, with awards and BBQ dinner plates for sale on Saturday.
In 2005, Hurricane Katrina totally wiped out communications networks in many areas--with Internet, radios, cell phones, and even backup systems like satellite phones failing.
(Chris Graythen/Getty Images) Nor, crucially, do these radios have mobile Internet access—which can serve any number of key functions, from allowing firefighters to download floor plans of burning buildings, to helping E. doctors plan surgeries by examining patients through an ambulance video feed, to giving police officers instant access to vital statistics in the field.
During Hurricane Katrina—four years after September 11—the storm and flooding totally wiped out communications networks in many areas.