At a recent meeting in Camp Shelby, Miss., military and homeland
defense officials pondered the lessons of Hurricane Katrina. Particularly,
they debated how to improve the communications and “interoperability”
between the military, National Guard and local first responders.
They concluded that the technology works just fine, but that the
problem is the “process,” says Lt. Gen. Steven G. Boutelle,
the Army’s chief information officer.
Part of the process of coordinating the response to a natural disaster
is to allocate the frequency spectrum so agencies can effectively
operate their communications systems. Several states have dealt
with that problem so that, if disaster strikes, the emergency responders
will be unencumbered by bureaucratic hurdles. Among the states that
have done that most effectively are Alaska and Hawaii, says Brig.
Gen. Randolph P. Strong, head of the Army Signal Center. “Alaska
and Hawaii are good models for frequency spectrum sharing.”