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Mayor Bloomberg Announces Pilot Program To Test Wireless Technologies To Create High Speed Wireless Data Network For New York City Police And Fire Departments

May 9, 2006

Network Will Provide Emergency Responders with Quick Access to Critical Information in the Field Including City Maps, Building Plans and Counter-Terrorism and Crime Databases

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and Acting Commissioner of the Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications (DoITT) Ronald M. Bergmann today announced plans to test two competing wireless technologies to create a Citywide Mobile Wireless Network (CMWN) for emergency responders. The wireless technology will enable the New York City Police and Fire personnel to quickly access and download information including city maps, building plans and federal and state counter-terrorism and crime databases from police vehicles and fire and EMS apparatus. In addition, City agencies employing safety inspectors and maintenance teams in the field will also be able to utilize the wireless network. In the first phase of the project, the two companies selected for the pilot - Northrop Grumman Corporation and Motorola - will install and test their wireless capabilities in Lower Manhattan. After the six-month pilot, the City may select one of the vendors to implement the wireless system citywide.

"The systems being considered are emerging, cutting-edge technologies that will put New York City at the forefront of the next wave of public safety communications and interoperability," said Mayor Bloomberg. "With the ability to access information quickly and remotely, our emergency responders will better prepared to protect our City and its residents. Testing these technologies for potential citywide implementation is critical to increasing safety and raising the performance level of our first responders. To achieve this, the City is committed to providing them with the latest technology and resources available."

"This pilot program will help New York City create a wireless network for emergency responders to meet the challenges in public safety communications," said Acting Commissioner Bergmann. "The network will be the first of its kind in the country and provide critical information for those who protect and serve the residents of this City."

"Communications is an important ingredient in the NYPD's recipe to prevent terrorism, fight crime and respond to emergencies," said Police Commissioner Kelly. "The wireless network is a welcome advancement on all three fronts."

"During the past few years, the FDNY has developed specific plans utilizing wireless technology with the goal of improving the safety of both our firefighters and the public," said Fire Commissioner Scoppetta. "This project will greatly influence and enhance those plans and improve emergency operations by providing critical information quickly and easily to those who need it - our on-scene commanders."

The goal of this project is to evaluate networks that can provide emergency personnel in the field with immediate access to large file transfers, including maps, building layouts and federal and state anti-crime and counter-terrorism databases. For example, the network will support the ability to transmit police data on fingerprints, mug shots, and increase the Police Department's ability to improve surveillance and traffic management. In addition, the network will create high-speed links to existing NYPD, FDNY and EMS data systems. For the FDNY, the wireless network will help integrate technologies currently under development including wireless electronic command boards and firefighter tracking technology. The wireless network will also be able to support full-motion video and radiological and biological environmental monitoring. Other City agencies including the Department of TransportationDepartment of BuildingsDepartment of Environmental Protection and the Department of Consumer Affairs  will also have access to the wireless network for field personnel dispatched throughout the City. These teams include maintenance workers, inspectors and other non-emergency field personnel.

Over the next six months, Northrop Grumman Corporation and Motorola will demonstrate how their respective wireless solutions meet these requirements. Both vendors will install equipment in test areas in Lower Manhattan and will conduct a 12-week head-to-head demonstration. The competing solutions will be evaluated and the product that best meets the City's needs will be considered for a citywide implementation. The cost of the pilot program will be $2.7 million. Should the City choose to implement one of programs being piloted the estimated cost will be $500 million - the five-year cost of building and maintaining a citywide network. Each contract provides for a pilot phase to test the technology and a second phase, implemented at the City's discretion, to build-out a citywide network. If the City determines that it intends to proceed with one of the proposed solutions, then that contract will continue and the second vendor's contract will be cancelled. If the City determines that it does not intend to proceed with either solution, both contracts will be cancelled and DoITT will evaluate alternative technical solutions.

U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) funding may be available to contribute to the creation of a citywide wireless network, and New York City will pursue that funding aggressively. In January 2006, DHS released a report, "Statement of Requirements for Public Safety Wireless Communications & Interoperability,'" which found that, "inadequate and unreliable wireless communications have been issues plaguing public safety organizations for decades." The report emphasized that "voice communications are critical, but voice communication requirements are not the only issue. Because of advances in technology, public safety operations are increasingly dependent on the sharing of data, images, and video." New York City will pursue any DHS or other federal funding that may be available to assist in the implementation of this important investment.

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