Whether it is a snow storm that closes the interstate, a bridge collapse, a public health emergency, a factory explosion, a HAZMAT spill, a bomb threat, or a terrorist attack, first responders from different disciplines and jurisdictions need to communicate via radio to be able to coordinate and work together. Interoperability is no longer a “nice to have” functionality; it’s a “need to have” for effective response.
OJA is statutorily responsible for the operation of the statewide public safety interoperable communication system (WISCOM) and implementing the strategic vision of the Interoperability Council to improve all facets of interoperable communications in Wisconsin.
Interoperability means the ability of public safety agencies to communication with each other and with other entities involved in emergency response (public works and transportation agencies, hospitals, volunteer emergency service agencies, etc.) by means of radio or associated communications systems including the exchange of voice, data, or video communications on demand and in real time, as needed or authorized. (Wis. Stats. 16.945 (1)(c)).
While the initial focus and ongoing goal has been on improving interoperable voice communications, additional stages will make progress towards improving broadband capacity for data and video interoperability.
The Interoperability Council has adopted the Statewide Communications Interoperability Plan (SCIP)—written by OJA in consultation with the public safety community—as the shared strategic vision of Wisconsin’s interoperable communications efforts. The Interoperability Council and OJA have also embraced a shared governance approach to encourage widespread support for achieving statewide interoperability by identifying and addressing the concerns, perspectives and any unique circumstances of the jurisdictions and organizations that will benefit most from interoperability.
Providing reliable and responsive interoperable communications has been a central goal of the Governor’s Wisconsin Homeland Security Council, and has been a part of Wisconsin’s comprehensive strategic homeland security planning efforts. The Homeland Security Council interoperability goal supports the implementation of the Statewide Communications Interoperability Plan (SCIP) written by OJA and approved by the State Interoperability Executive Council.