It is very obvious that technological computer-based systems allow the emergency manager to do things not before possible, including the ability to handle data in ways only dreamed about until now. Yet, with all these successes of wired systems, hidden in the background in a
Due to transparency - and the idea that it is old fashioned - radio systems seem out of place compared with the brilliance of the current romance with wired computer-based systems. Yet, those with l-o-n-g memories know that the best of systems -- no matter what their nature -- fail when needed the most. At ERI'97 an Emergency Services Coordinator of the Governors Office of Emergency Services said he found himself amazed at the success of the new systems; "yet," he thought "time and again: what if they fail? Not that we've had our appetite whetted for this level of sophistication, how will we cope when the inevitable failure does come?"
Information and system managers, without that l-o-n-g experience in many emergencies, may be tempted to view the expenses of radio systems as infringing on other budget needs. However well meaning their bottom-dollar-focused decisions, they pose a situation of immense DANGER wherever they make essential decisions.
A particularly hazardous situation is to cut out radio systems in the belief that they are no longer needed, or that newer (but unproven) systems are better. (Some 800 Mhz systems, for example, are real-time failures.) Unfortunately, non-use leads to the loss of a jurisdiction's already-licensed FCC frequencies. Agencies in which this has already occurred will, in time, deeply regret this unwise action. Congressional authorization of the sale (by the FCC) of frequencies to private interests makes it readily apparent that once gone they will not be available again - no matter much an agency will need them when they are no longer a jurisdiction asset.
Continues next week.