This Saturday marks the ninth anniversary of September 11, 2001, an infamous day. Tomorrow, let us remember the lives lost and also the brave first responders and volunteers who risked their lives to save others in peril, many of whom made the ultimate sacrifice. Let us also honor our service men and women who continue to fight and preserve our freedom at home and abroad.
As we reflect on these many sacrifices, we have not forgotten the challenges that we face as a nation. The 9/11 Commission recognized many challenges that must be remedied to ensure we don’t face the same failures in the future. One specific challenge cited by the 9/11 Commission was the lack of interoperable communications among public safety, characterizing this flaw as a major threat to our nation’s safety and security. Nine years after 9/11, our nation still lacks an interoperable nationwide public safety network.
On this solemn anniversary, I can say that we know how to answer the 9/11 challenge, and we have taken action. The FCC has taken concrete measures to enable the first steps in the deployment of this nationwide interoperable public safety network. We have recently established the Emergency Response Interoperability Center which is fast at work establishing the technical rules to ensure there is an interoperable nationwide network. We have also approved 21 early deployments of the public safety broadband network throughout the country. But there are many other steps which must be taken in addition to our efforts, to ensure that the network will be built everywhere and that it will be affordable and interoperable. As I have said before, there is nothing inevitable about interoperability on this network.
As this nationwide network is deployed, I believe we will be able to fulfill the 9/11 Commission’s vision to ensure that America’s first responders have access to state-of-the-art communications that they need to effectively and efficiently communicate with each other, regardless of their jurisdiction or the uniforms they wear, wherever and whenever they are called to service. I look forward to the day when the network is operational and America’s first responders are better equipped to help their communities and save lives in times of disaster. It would be a good and appropriate way to honor those who died or were injured on 9/11, both civilians and first responders.