Miracles can happen
I am a baseball fan. This isn’t much of a revelation. In fact, it should come as no surprise to any of you who have visited this space in the past, as I have liberally sprinkled references to our national pastime in previous columns in order to make a point. My dirty little secret, however, is that I am a fan of the Chicago White Sox.
Many of us die-hards were of the opinion that we would go to our graves without seeing the Sox back in the Fall Classic. And then a miracle occurred. A brash, cocky manager with a keen sense of what works on the diamond convinced a confident, aggressive and fearless general manager that the team’s entire makeup and approach needed to be dramatically changed. Almost overnight they transformed the Sox from a championship pretender to a contender. Their justification? The old way of doing things just wasn’t working.
I thought about the Sox and this baseball season as I read this month’s MRT. Interoperability — or more accurately, the lack of it — is a central theme. Throughout this issue you will hear the plaintive cry for interoperable communications. There is no denying this need. When first responders descend upon the scene of a major incident and can’t talk to each other, chaos ensues, and lives and property often are lost.
Despite this, however, there is no comprehensive plan for achieving the miracle of interoperability. The Department of Homeland Security’s Project SAFECOM has tried to jump-start the effort by tying grant monies to a region’s ability to reach consensus on interoperability plans, with little success. Not only is agreement lacking among public-safety officials, several industry vendors are promoting their own solutions to the interoperability challenge, with Cisco Systems being the latest to join the fray (see story on page 46).
Last month in this space, I suggested that the time has come for the federal government to take the reins and develop a national interoperability plan. This month, M/A-COM Vice President John Vaughan repeats the call (see View from the Top on page 18). This is noteworthy on two levels. First Vaughan is extremely intelligent — he has a doctorate degree from MIT — and is a highly respected industry veteran. His voice should be heeded. Second, he represents a major vendor. As might be expected in a capitalistic society, vendors don’t often act altruistically, but rather in their own best interests. If you have doubts about that, consider for a moment what it takes to get an industry standard ratified.
I hope others of Vaughan’s ilk voice their support of a national approach to interoperability. Because the old way of doing things just isn’t working.