Project P25 (P25) portable radios have become a necessity for public safety. The digital radios allow different departments to come together to help those in need during emergency situations eliminating interruption and confusion. But these systems can be expensive for state organizations attempting to better their communications and protect their citizens. So how can they get funding?
The Public Safety Interoperable Communications (PSIC) Grant Program was established by the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005. It amended the Implementing Recommendations of the 9/11 Commission Act of 2007. The 9/11 Commission had found that a lack of communication between different departments attempting to work together during the attacks of September 11, 2001 in New York and Washington, DC created unneeded difficulties in saving lives.
According the bill that was passed by the 111th Congress of the United States, it was “a bill to allow the funding for the interoperable emergency communications grant program established under the Digital Television Transition and Public Safety Act of 2005 to remain available until expended through fiscal year 2012, and for other purposes.” The bill itself directed the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), a part of the Department of Commerce (DOC), with the help of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), to implement a grant program that would assist public safety agencies in their quest for interoperable communications.
On September 30, 2007, 56 states and territories became the beneficiaries of a $968,385,000 award by the PSIC Grant Program allowing them to improve the interoperable communications of their public safety officials. It represented the single largest infusion of federal funding for the implementation of communications solutions to state, territory, and local agencies.
While the PSIC Grant Program funded the implementation of these programs, they are a one-time grant program so they won’t continue funding the effort for agencies. However, they helped the agencies that benefited in two ways. One was by funding their operation of interoperable communications. The other was by requiring the states and territories to have an approved Statewide Communication Interoperability Plan (SCIP) and approved Investment Justifications (IJs) before they could receive the funds. This made sure they would have the ability to continue to improve their interoperable communications after receiving the grant.
The implementation of P25 radios by public safety departments nationwide have made the country safer during emergency situations. For many areas, it started with the PSIC Grant Program. As departments across the country use manufacturers like Relm Wireless to improve their interoperable communications, the positive impact of that program remains.