Counties get state funds to boost emergency communications

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ALBANY — Gov. Kathy Hochul has announced $45 million in state grant funding to improve their emergency communications systems to enable local governments to expand their ability to communicate, exchange valuable data, and streamline information to enhance collaboration and assist first responders during a disaster.

“One of the keys to successful emergency response is a communications structure that all responders can depend on to relay important information and improve overall response activities,”  Hochul said. “This grant will ensure our firefighters, police officers, EMTs and paramedics, and anyone who responds to a disaster will have the tools and training they need to communicate more effectively and efficiently.”

Locally, Oneida County will receive $781,082; Herkimer County will be awarded $672,509; Lewis County will get $684,510 and Madison County is set to receive $691,645.

Monroe County, in western New York, is slated to receive the most funding at slightly more than $1.4 million while Yates County, in the Finger Lakes region, will receive the least at $320,699.

The Statewide Interoperable Communications Grant is formula based and funded by cellular surcharge revenue. The program has allowed counties to make improvements in the way first responders can communicate between each other and different regions of the state using land mobile radio systems.

Each county and New York City can submit applications to fund projects involving infrastructure, equipment, and technology upgrades. 

Eligible counties can use the funding for various functions, including enhancing emergency response for county, local and municipal public safety organizations, improving capability, improvements in governance structures, operating procedures, infrastructure development, and addressing SAFECOM
guidance from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Office of Emergency Communications. 

This year, multiple counties are adding National Interoperability Channels to the infrastructure, as well as building new towers and land mobile radio systems, and moving to P25 technologies and equipment, according to state officials.

“Our emergency responders depend on robust and secure communications systems connecting them to vital information and services,” said State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services Commissioner Patrick A. Murphy.

“Information sharing between responders allows New Yorkers to get the help they need when it matters most. Our staff remain committed to ensuring effective emergency communications capabilities across the State, and working with our partners to build a stronger, more resilient, and dependable emergency
communications infrastructure,” the New York state commissioner added.

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