Friday, November 02, 2007

Rudy's radio daze

By Capt. Fogg

I saw the movie
World Trade Center the other day; the story about the last two NY firefighters to be pulled out of the wreckage alive. The film has them futilely trying to reach anyone on their handheld radios and their inability to do that may help keep Rudy out of the White House. Rudy's sole selling point seems to be the concocted image of him as the Hero of Ground Zero who by magical extension can save us from the nasty men who blow things up.

Mayor Rudy of course didn't buy the more expensive
APCO compatible radios but instead gave the no-bid contract (after years of inaction) to supply mobile and handheld radios to police and fire departments to Motorola who had not demonstrated their equipment in field tests and who charged the city $14 million or ten times the proposed price for the system. Is it any surprise that the radios did not work and had to be pulled from the field? As a consequence the fire department had to resort to the decades old radios that had demonstrated their obsolescence after the last WTC attack in 1993.

One of the problems that exists in many areas is the inability of various agencies to communicate directly because some departments have radios that work on different frequencies than others and nearby municipalities may have different systems and channels. This is why radio amateurs are needed to take over when radio towers fall, cell phones go dead and land lines are cut or overloaded. Municipal systems with incompatible frequency assignments and fragile infrastructures are far more vulnerable than people in non-hurricane territory realize.

As happens too often in places like Florida and the gulf coast during hurricanes, NYC became a tower of Babel on 9/11 and it didn't have to happen. Back in the 90's, the Association of Public Safety Officers, or APCO created the
Project 25 or P25 standard for radios that are flexible enough to allow them to "talk" with older radios, analog and digital, simplex and duplex with trunked and conventional systems. All the public safety agencies can communicate and police and paramedics can for instance, hear the cries for help from trapped firemen or warn them to get out of a burning building.

Of course the purpose of Republican government is to privatize public funds by distributing them to corporations without competitive bidding or any demonstration of the effectiveness of the product in question. New York seems to have done just that and some people are mad as hell, namely the FDNY who lost so many people because what we had on that day of infamy was a failure to communicate. Firefighters in NYC and across the country along with a
New York City Council member are trying to expose Rudy for his incompetence and for having the effrontery to pose as a hero the way he posed for the cameras 6 years ago. Look for the longer story at The REAL Rudy and at today's Huffington Post.

(Cross-posted from
Human Voices.)

Labels: , ,

Bookmark and Share