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Emergency-response system needs upgrade

Technology and telecommunications policy briefing

By Rep. Henry Waxman

WASHINGTON, DC — The 9/11 attacks and Hurricane Katrina showed what happens when public safety officials lack a reliable means to communicate in the midst of a disaster. Lives were imperiled and lost and response efforts impeded when communication networks failed and firefighters and police could not share urgent information with each other.

In the aftermath of the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, the 9/11 commission made more than 40 recommendations to Congress. Most of these have been implemented, improving our national preparedness. But one key deficiency identified by the 9/11 commission remains unaddressed: nationwide interoperable communications for public safety.

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