September 8, 2011 - 4:27 pm
By James Arden Barnett, Jr., Rear Admiral (Ret.) | Chief, Public Safety & Homeland Security Bureau

This month we are remembering the tenth anniversary of the tragic events that unfolded on September 11, 2001. Although a decade has passed since the events that transpired on the morning of September 11, 2001 for most of us the impact, emotions, and our personal experience remains vivid today.

On that day, we saw a country respond. We saw police, firefighters, emergency medical, search and rescue, and scores of other emergency responders head into the teeth of great danger. We saw bravery and heroics as our emergency response community fought fires, saved lives, and protected our citizens. To this day, we all feel great pride in these many selfless actions.

So, I think it appropriate to share what we at the FCC saw through our professional prism, the images upon which we focused as public safety communications officials.

At the FCC, we witnessed emergency responders heroically carrying out their duties. We saw command posts and the communications gear that was being used. We asked ourselves what emergency response groups could speak with each other using their communications gear and who couldn’t because their equipment wasn’t interoperable. We troubled ourselves with concerns over the quality of reception that police and fire radios had in the in the stairwells of the World Trade Center. We wondered how limited the information was that command posts could convey to those in harms way.

But we didn’t just sit back and watch, we engaged both with public safety officials and with our great communications industry to assist. First, the Chairman made sure that FCC personnel were operating from a safe location. Once we were set up, we went to work to help ensure that the communications networks that support the nation remained operational.

We remain engaged each and every day to ensure that our emergency responders and public safety officials have the very best communications systems in the world. We work towards many goals such as interoperable communications that allows all responders, no matter where they’re from, or who they serve to speak to each other on compatible radios. We want them all to have access to the best information whether it’s streaming video of the disaster scene, or the schematics of a building that’s on fire. And we want that information to get to them when they need it via a robust broadband network.

In the Public Safety & Homeland Security Bureau we remain committed to remembering September 11, 2001, to learn from that tragic day and to work towards the future of public safety communications that we know can be reached.