Officials unveil $200M Bay Area emergency plan

San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums and other local officials came together at Treasure Island today to unveil an initiative aimed at making it easier for public safety agencies in the region to communicate with one another during emergencies.

Newsom said, “Today, as we mark the sixth anniversary of 9/11, the best way we can pay tribute to the fallen is by giving our local first responders the tools to handle a major disaster.”

Newsom said, “By making our emergency communications interoperable among all disciplines and jurisdictions, we are ensuring that we are prepared for any future disasters, either natural or man-made.”

Newsom said the so-called Bay Area Public Safety Interoperable Communications Initiative is the largest urban area interoperable communications collaboration in the nation.

Laura Phillips, the executive director of San Francisco's Department of Emergency Management, said the idea is to make it easier for cities and counties throughout the Bay Area to address and develop strategies to communicate, respond and recover in the event of human-generated and natural disasters.

Dellums said, “This initiative provides our first responders with the ability to communicate with other cities and counties across the Bay Area, further improving upon the way our emergency officials can respond.”

Phillips said the problem known as “interoperability” developed over the past several decades and involves a scarcity of radio frequencies or spectrum that hinders the ability of public safety agencies throughout the nation to communicate with one another.

Newsom said the Bay Area initiative will cost about $200 million, of which San Francisco will contribute more than $72 million.

Phillips said the project will be funded by federal grants, including the Public Safety Interoperable Communications Grant, known as PSIC, and the Community Oriented Policing Services, known as COPS.

Newsom said parts of the project will be brought in gradually over the next year, additional parts will be in service by 2009 and it will be fully integrated by early 2010.

Phillips said the project currently includes the cities of San Francisco, Oakland and San Jose and the core counties of Alameda, Contra Costa, San Mateo, Marin and Santa Clara.

She said other cities and counties also have expressed interest.

— Bay City News

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