Statewide Communication Interoperability Plan
A Statewide Communication Interoperability Plan (SCIP) outlines the current and future direction for interoperable emergency communications within a state. Interoperable communication refers to the ability of emergency responders to communicate and share voice and data information. If our public safety agencies cannot communicate directly with one another by radio and data systems to coordinate life-saving activities, lives may be lost.
In Vermont, the dominant means of communication for first responders is through Land Mobile Radios (LMR). LMR is a wireless communication system for use in vehicles, called mobile units, or on foot, called portable units. An example of this type of radio would be a walkie-talkie. The push-to-talk system allows users to communicate with a dispatching center and with other first responders at the scene of an emergency. However, because the radios are programmed to different frequencies, first responders from different disciplines and organizations may be unable to talk with each other at an on-scene emergency. The Department of Public Safety is working on several initiatives to provide alternate interoperable radio coverage and explore avenues to use emerging technology.
A SCIP outlines goals with specific steps for action and defined methods to measure progress toward accomplishing a goal. Vermont's SCIP has a renewed focus on responding to and preparing for new technology that will encourage and enhance interoperable communications. Vermont's Statewide Interoperabilty Coordinator is Radio Technology Services Director Terry LaValley.
Vermont Communications System (VCOMM)
VCOMM, or the Vermont Communications System, is a voice interoperable system that operates on the VHF and UHF bandwidths and connects first responders within a state coverage area to a dispatch center. Within the updated SCIP snapshot are plans to update the technology of this system and provide training exercises for first responders to ensure VCOMM can be effectively used when needed.
COMING SOON: New web page on VCOMM, including frequency charts and news on upcoming field exercises.
With the buildout of the Nationwide Public Safety Broadband Network (NPSBN), the public safety community is learning more about new applications and functions that can be used in an emergency response. The NPSBN will provide a cellular type coverage to first responders, with priority and pre-emption features. The network is being built by AT&T. The federal agency formed to ensure the building of the network is call FirstNet or the First Responder Network Authority. FirstNet awarded the national contract to AT&T in 2017. Interoperability features are an important part of the NPSBN development. You can learn more about FirstNet in Vermont by going to the web site of the Public Safety Broadband Network Commission. This commission acts a guiding body in Vermont to prepare the state for the NPSBN.