Who would have figured? A growing group of people now identify themselves as steampunk, a subgenre of science fiction, fantasy, alternate history and speculative fiction. It involves a setting where steam power is still widely used, usually Victorian era Britain. The technology can include such fictional machines as those found in the works of H. G. Wells and Jules Verne.

The steampunks today have tricked out laptops and smartphones to mirror, in looks at least, the turn of the century.

You would figure that in today’s technology age, however, everyone is connected to everyone else. But, when it comes to first responders, law enforcement and security officers, often each has challenges communicating with others.


A Lack of Communication

According to a U.S. General Accounting Office report, the inability of first responders – police officers, firefighters, hazardous materials teams, emergency medical service personnel and others to communicate effectively with one another as needed during an emergency is a long-standing and widely recognized problem in many areas across the country. When first responders cannot communicate effectively as needed, it can literally cost lives of emergency responders and those they are trying to assist.

So, say hello and thanks to Des Moines, the Iowa city that was established during Queen Victoria’s rein in 1843, at the confluence of the Raccoon and Des Moines rivers, as a military garrison to protect the rights of Sak and Fox tribes.

According to Tom Conley, president and CEO of the Conley Group, communications has taken the leap with the Central Iowa Public-Private Communications Network or CIPPCON, which facilitates critical two-way radio communions between the public and private sector in the area. And, access to the system is free. “This is important because it is both widely known and readily acknowledged among public safety leaders that the inability of personnel from a public safety agency to use two-way radios to effectively communicate with first responders from other public safety agencies is a primary barrier to safe and effective response. This condition is obviously known as inoperability,” says Conley.

“The opposite of inoperability, which is a condition wherein everyone who needs to can talk with each other, is called interoperability,” he adds.


Bringing Everyone Together

The CIPPCON system is a dedicated talkgroup (channel) on the Conley Group-owned 800 MHz. Motorola Type II trunked two-way radio communications system. From a technical aspect, this system is comprised of four 150-watt Quantro repeaters, a combiner, a multiplexer, a controller and tower-top amplifier. This trunked two–way radio communications system is physically located in a secured area within the KCCI-TV’s building near downtown Des Moines and makes use of that facility’s several hundred foot tall television tower for the system’s antennas. The system also has full, multi-protocol voice encryption communications functionality should it ever be needed.

The purpose of CIPPCON is to serve as a public/private mutual aid two-way radio communications network in central Iowa and one that is all inclusive to every public sector entity and all applicable non-government (private) organizations that need legitimate access to a mutual aid two-way radio communications system. Because of the prior lack of a fully interoperable two-way radio communications system that could serve as a common operational communications platform for the public and private sectors, CIPPCON was born out of the need for a robust and reliable two-way radio communications system in central Iowa that would provide a venue to enable public safety and applicable non-government partners to communicate with each other during an emergency, disaster, or whenever there is a legitimate need for two or more users of the system to communicate with each other.

The CIPPCON system now serves the greater Des Moines area with a multi-county metro population of more than 700,000 people. The system has about a 30-mile range from downtown Des Moines with virtually 100-percent saturation and up to 70 miles range with good saturation under most conditions. In addition to the many private sector partners that are CIPPCON users, such as Wells Fargo Financial, local area hospitals and security services companies.

The steampunks would be proud.