The state of Wisconsin yesterday conducted a ceremony celebrating the launch of its interoperable, statewide P25 system known as the Wisconsin Interoperable System for Communications (WISCOM) that features a network backbone from EFJohnson.

"Deployment of WISCOM enables our state's public safety agencies to communicate with one another, regardless of city or county boundaries or the type of equipment used," David Spenner, statewide interoperability communications manager for the Wisconsin Office of Justice Assistance, said in a prepared statement. "Wisconsin's emergency responders now have access to a reliable communications system that will help them fulfill their mission to protect and save lives."

Providing 95% mobile coverage throughout the state, WISCOM was developed through considerable collaboration between the state and its county-level agencies, which has proven to be an effective model, EFJohnson CEO Andy Adams said.

"I think it's a great model," he said. "By combining that model with the EFJohnson technology approach, I think they've saved their taxpayers a significant amount of money but have provided them with a technologically advanced system that provides a level of interoperability that they haven't had before."

EFJohnson's decentralized approach — no central controller is used — allows counties that want to join the system and enhanced coverage to do so in a fiscally responsible manner, Adams said.

"As counties need additional coverage to serve [portable devices], they can build out their system to provide additional coverage in their county," Adams said. "The advantage is that they do not have to, in essence, build out their own complete system; they can leverage whatever tower assets and coverage that the state provides. We've worked with several counties so far … where they only have to add a couple more sites to give them 95% portable coverage in their county.

"So, it provides a very cost-effective solution and high-level interoperability for the counties and the state, because they're working together. That's really the beauty of the model — the level of cooperation between the counties and the state."

Wisconsin counties using EFJohnson technology for their local P25 systems can link to WISCOM automatically, while counties using other vendors will be able to link to the statement network via an ISSI gateway, Adams said.