Public-safety agencies in Pennsylvania managed more than a million calls on the state’s STARNet communications system during back-to-back snowstorms. Powered by Harris OpenSky technology, PA-STARNet is one of the largest public-safety communications systems in North America and among the largest private microwave networks in the world.

According to a press release, the “system delivered” during the emergencies as the state police, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation and local agencies used STARNet through increasingly dangerous conditions.

The recent snowstorms created an emergency situation across all of Pennsylvania and required ongoing coordination among several state agencies. The OpenSky network provided connection throughout the state, while its talkgroup structure allowed users to communicate virtually instantly with those most critical. There was no need for patching or dispatcher-aided communications. Because of OpenSky’s technology structure, it can handle an enormous volume of calls at any given time.

Data compiled by the state show that:
  • During the Feb. 5–7 storm, a total of 721,000 calls were processed, including calls among local first responders, power companies, the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency and the PA Turnpike Commission.
  • During the Feb. 10 storm, a total of 430,743 calls by all system users were processed in a 24-hour period.