Mobile Satellite Ventures (MSV) this week announced the launch of the NorthWest Satellite Mutual Aid Radio Talkgroup (NWSMART) serving public-safety customers in seven states in the northwestern United States.

NWSMART is designed to provide interoperable, push-to-talk communications for public-safety agencies using MSV equipment in the states of Alaska, California, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Washington and Wyoming. The talkgroup, managed by the state of Washington's Military Department Emergency Management Division, is operational and is the fifth such talkgroup announced by MSV, MSV spokesman Tom Surface said.

“It’s envisioned as a system of nine regionally managed talk groups forming a network across the country—five of which are operational and the other four will be online in the coming weeks,” Surface said.

By the end of October, MSV plans to have all nine talkgroups operational, blanketing the U.S. with talkgroup communication that is not dependent on the availability of terrestrial networks. While MSV public-safety customers can apply to be part of a talkgroup within its local region, over-the-air programming the talkgroup manager to add or delete entities from the talk group—a feature that was utilized recently in the Gulf Coast region in preparation for the landfall of Hurricane Gustav, Surface said.

Jim Corry, MSV’s vice president of government solutions, has lead the company’s efforts to establish the talk groups, which are available to MSV subscribers at no additional cost. Corry has said he believes the manner in which these talkgroups have been created could serve as an example to other interoperability efforts.

“Take the word ‘satellite’ out of there, take ‘MSV’ out of there, and you can use this same model with LMR,” Corry has said. “There are no technical issues to interoperability, just ego and control issues.”