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Wisconsin DOT Awarded $16.3 to Build Statewide Public Safety Radio Communications System

The Wisconsin Office of Justice Assistance and the State Interoperability Council have awarded a $16.3 million federal grant to the Wisconsin Department of Transportation to commence building a statewide public radio safety communications system (WISCOM). Currently, a small number of shared “mutual aid” channels enable reliable communications between emergency response agencies but the range of these channels is limited to a only few adjoining communities. In large-scale disasters, these channels can be quickly overwhelmed, resulting in system outages and emergency communication failures.

Initial build-out of the WISCOM system will focus on developing a 4-channel VHF radio trunking system that will improve interoperable communications between jurisdictions and responders. The system will then be expanded to add more channels, increase mobile and portable coverage, and provide a flexible platform that can be expanded to replace independent and local stand-alone radio systems.

The project will be cost-effective both in the short and long term. Existing radio towers and other infrastructure will be leveraged in the DOT implementation. Once completed, long-term cost savings will be realized as local communities and state agencies share infrastructure costs and avoid equipment duplication.

Governance and sustainability of the emerging system will rest with the Statewide System Management Group (SSMG), a board composed of 21 members representing fire, EMS, law enforcement, emergency management, municipal, county, state, and tribal entities throughout the state. The SSMG is a sub-committee of the State Interoperability Council.

Check www.oja.wi.gov for more grant opportunities and criminal justice/homeland security program news.

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