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Wireless communications interoperability specifically refers to the ability of emergency response officials to share information via voice and data signals on demand, in real time, when needed, and as authorized. For example, when communications systems are interoperable, police and firefighters responding to a routine incident can talk to each other to coordinate efforts. Communications interoperability also makes it possible for emergency response agencies responding to catastrophic accidents or disasters to work effectively together." This capability can provide life-saving support and can streamline response coordination efforts under a myriad of circumstances, including incidents that employ emergency responders from multiple agencies or jurisdictions.
The District of Columbia’s (District) emergency response efforts are largely predicated by a comprehensive and integrated communications capability amongst District agencies and its regional partners. A reliable and sophisticated communications system is of great importance, not just in preparation for and response during major disasters, but for the day-to-day safety needs of the public. In times of disaster, the preservation of life and property depend on a swift and coordinated response of both resources and personnel. The ability to communicate is a key factor in managing this response effort.
The District of Columbia Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency (HSEMA) is responsible for Interoperable and Emergency Communications across the District and its partners around the National Capitol Region (NCR). To accomplish this, HSEMA acts as the coordination hub for voice, data, and video communications. Through these various technological avenues, HSEMA coordinates various District-wide communications, communications assets, and assists local and regional governments in communications planning.