In Nashville, APCO sets sights on a global stage
If you could spell “political,” you could have a front-row seat at APCO’s 68th Annual Conference and Exposition.
The Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials — International snagged former New York Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, former New Hampshire Gov. John Sununu (also former President George Bush’s chief of staff), Michigan Gov. John Engler and Pennsylvania Congressman Curt Weldon to bring on the star power in Nashville, Tenn., on Aug. 12-15.
Also featured were Ron Miller, chief information officer at the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and James E. Hall, former chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board.
Giuliani speaks — As many as 300 people were waiting to hear Giuliani a half-hour before the doors opened to the huge Delta Ballroom in Opryland Hotel. Eventually, more than 1,000 people were seated to hear the mayor explain his five points of management — philosophy, preparation, teamwork, courage and communication — in the context of governing New York City, especially in the period following the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001.
In the end, Giuliani credited firefighters, police, emergency medical service crews, and passengers and crew aboard a hijacked Boeing 757 jetliner who forced it to crash in Somerset County, Penn., with thwarting the terrorists’ attempt to destroy the American spirit.
“If we let terrorists frighten us, they win. Terrorism is just one more risk we face. Life is full of risk. Terrorism is not the biggest risk. It’s a risk. The risk of disease is greater, cancer or heart disease, or becoming a victim of domestic crime. The risk of being killed by a drunk driver is greater. All those risks we live with, and we exercise our freedoms.
“If we’re brave enough to live with those risks, we’re brave enough to live with terrorism,” Giuliani said.
Referring to public safety radio communications, Giuliani said, “I am in favor of your support for the consensus proposal before the FCC that would allow public safety to have more frequencies and better communications. Thanks to you and Nextel who agreed on that. It can be positive for the future.”
Here’s the connection: The mayor’s New York-based consulting company, Giuliani Partners, and Nextel Communications, McLean, Va., have what the two have described as “a strategic alliance to significantly improve public safety communications across the United States.”
Known collectively as the Private Wireless Coalition and including Nextel and APCO, several FCC licensees and other private radio and public safety membership organizations reached a consensus about rebanding the 800 MHz band. For that reason, they refer to their reply comment in the FCC’s 800 MHz public safety interference proceeding as a consensus proposal, although a majority of those filing comments oppose rebanding.
Town Hall Meeting — Joshua Davidson, the president of the Town Hall Meeting’s sponsor, Accelera Wireless, does some business with Sununu. Once he secured a speaking commitment from Sununu, now president of JHS Associates and a partner in Trinity International Partners, the governor brought in some more political names.
“We have … to accept the responsibility to break historic molds and address issues and realities we learned from the tragedies [of Sept. 11]. I recognize how we talk about what we do in communications has to focus on technology, standards, spectrum policy and funding. I believe issues of technology standards and spectrum will evolve. It is imperative to get to a solution of those issues,” Sununu said.
“But we must understand that there has to be a new way of doing business in formulating policy, inspiring significant aggressive infusion of funding and capital and ways of bringing these issues together in an environment that is political,” he said.
With what seemed to be a combination of pride and disappointment, Engler said that Michigan’s statewide 800 MHz radio system has been completed, but it fails to attract as many county and municipal participants as it should.
He said he wondered what would be the best way to build a statewide network and maintain local decision-making, while making sure that adjacent communities have interoperability as a priority for their police, fire and emergency medical service crews to talk with one another.
“That’s where some federal money and policy should take us. At the state and local level, there should be incentives or rewards for those who collaborate ahead of rugged individuals who say they want to go it alone when that doesn’t cut it in terms of homeland security,” Engler said.
Weldon, whose background includes work as a volunteer firefighter and mayor, is known as the legislative architect of millions of dollars in grants to local fire departments administered through FEMA.
“What’s frustrating to me as a supporter of military spending is that we spend $62 million per year on international defenders, but money for local domestic defenders was $15 million. Some say it’s not a federal responsibility. I believe that firefighters should be allowed to maintain their identity and integrity,” Weldon said.
“We need strategies whereby the federal government doesn’t provide solutions, but incentives to put in place to use technology already developed,” Weldon said.
Miller said that all disasters are local, and that the federal government would not dictate a solution to interoperability. Instead, he said the government needs to create a framework with incentives for interoperability and provide funding, especially for volunteer fire departments: “There are more ‘have-nots’ than ‘haves’,” he said.
Thera Bradshaw, APCO president — The association’s new president addressed the closing banquet and outlined a four-point program, including a global reach for the association, alliances with other U.S. membership organizations, strategic thinking and leadership development.
She also announced the opening of an APCO office in Washington D.C.
“In response to the terrorist attacks last year, a valuable window of opportunity opened for us, and we should seize that opportunity for the sake of people who lost their lives. With homeland security and unequaled resources dedicated to improving them, we will seize the opportunity to make our voice heard and bring home the resources to get the job done. From this day forward, APCO International will literally be in our nation’s capital, the most powerful city in the world,” Bradshaw said.
Exhibition — Nearly 300 vendors took booth space at the exhibition, including 50 first-time exhibitors.
Kenwood Communications showed a new 800 MHz Project 25 trunking and conventional public safety portable and a new model of VHF and UHF FM mobile transceiver.
JPS Communications brought a 2.4 GHz link that works with a transportable repeater to extend radio coverage into high-rise buildings.
Vertex Standard was seen making what its land mobile division vice president, Scott Henderson, described as “a major push into the public safety market” with a new series of high-performance, high-specification mobiles.
Entertainment — Sgt. Daniel M. Clark of the Massachusetts State Police sang the national anthem, a medley of the five military branch anthems, several other patriotic songs and a song composed about first responders who died in New York when the World Trade Center collapsed. Performing after the Town Hall Meeting, the sergeant received four standing ovations.
Nashville is the home of the radio broadcast program “Grand Ole Opry,” which inspired the renaming of the exhibitor-sponsored Tuesday evening celebration from “MANAPCO” to “Grand Ole APCO.” The evening included food, carnival games and a performance by the Charlie Daniels Band.
More details about the APCO meeting are available on the Mobile Radio Technology Web site, www.mrtmag.com, in the special report “APCO 68th Annual Conference and Exposition.”
Your guide to APCO coverage at www.mrtmag.com
Check out the special report, APCO 68th Annual Conference and Exposition, at www.mrtmag.com.
Former New York Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani — Read his entire speech.
Town Hall Meeting — Including former New Hampshire Governor John Sununu, Michigan Gov. John Engler, Pennsylvania Rep. Curt Weldon and FEMA Chief Information Officer Ron Miller.
Former NTSB Chairman James E. Hall — Read his abbreviated remarks (Hall surrendered time to Giuliani) and the text of his intended speech. Hall explained the importance of lessons learned from investigations, and the preparation and emergency simulations drawn from those lessons.
New APCO President Thera Bradshaw — Addressing the closing banquet, APCO’s new president details her goals for the association and announces the opening of a new APCO office in Washington.
Vendor interviews and news — More than a dozen stories give details about business trends and technologies offered by vendors that exhibited at APCO.
Sessions — Committee meetings and individual sessions get down to business.