With grant money from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, states and municipalities are investing in new police, fire and emergency management radios. For example, in Wisconsin, more than 350 local emergency response agencies have been awarded a total of $4.2 million in federal funding to purchase nearly 3,600 new radios with enhanced mutual aid channel capacity. Shared “mutual aid” channels enable reliable communications between several emergency response agencies at critical times—like large-scale disasters, and incidents that cross jurisdictional lines.

These equipment grants—funded by federal Homeland Security monies—will further the state’s short-term goal to ensure all public safety agencies have access to common mutual aid channels during an emergency or crisis.

Radios purchased with these funds must have a minimum of 48 channels and be capable of accessing at least 20 statewide mutual aid channels; additional capacity is for local channels. Some police, fire, and rescue agencies are replacing radios that operated as few as one channel.

Replacement of outdated radio equipment is not only essential to improve communication interoperability between agencies, but is an important step towards implementing Wisconsin’s statewide interoperability strategy.

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