WNYC's Bob Hennelly is an award-winning investigative journalist. While at WNYC he has reported on a wide gamut of major public policy questions ranging from immigration and homeland security to power outages and utility mergers.
Almost 10 years after the September 11, the country has still not acted on the 9/11 Commission's call for a dedicated nationwide wireless network linking first responders.
Senator Kirsten Gillibrand announced Monday that she is introducing legislation to make it happen, and said the network would also permit the rapid exchange of electronic data.
"All local state and federal first responders would have advanced information sharing tools and technology and ensuring a unified and coordinated response," she said.
Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said the NYPD can't communicate with other jurisdictions nor the federal government with their existing two-way radios. A nationwide wireless radio network would change that.
"The fact is a 16-year old with a smart phone has more advanced communications capability than a police officer," Kelly said.
The bill would allocate 10 megahertz of spectrum exclusively for the national emergency wireless network. Gillibrand said the plan would more than pay for itself with proceeds from an auction of valuable radio wave spectrum that is sought after by wireless carriers and broadcasters.