Barring the kind of Christmas/New Year’s miracle that typically is found only in heartwarming movies, 2011 will go down as yet another year in which Congress failed to enact legislation that would provide public safety with the spectrum and funding needed to make the vision of a nationwide network for first responders a reality.
Public safety’s hopes to convince Congress to reallocate the 700 MHz D Block spectrum and provide billions of dollars of funding for a nationwide LTE network before the end of the year may not officially be dead, but they certainly appear to need some sort of life support at the moment.
Whether negotiations can be completed in the compressed time available to lawmakers is anybody’s guess, but Congress has an opportunity to jumpstart the next generation of public-safety communications and to be perceived as something more akin to Santa Claus, instead of the Grinch.
We have yet to find the money needed to deliver next-generation communications capabilities to first responders that will make them better at what they do and keep everyone safer in the process, even though we’ve been talking about it for years. But, somehow, we don’t think twice about a long-snapper making more than three grand every time he touches the ball. Something is very, very wrong with this picture.
Part of the reason that everyone is so excited about next-generation 911 is that its broadband capabilities will enable citizens to provide public safety with video and images from emergencies in real-time. But if such citizens believe that they will be hassled, or even arrested, when they do, they likely will avoid getting involved.