Justice and Public Safety Cabinet
GOVERNOR ERNIE FLETCHER, CONGRESSMAN HAL ROGERS COMMEMORATE 5th ANNIVERSARY OF SEPTEMBER 11 IN SOMERSET
FRANKFORT, Ky. – Governor Ernie Fletcher was in Somerset today to commemorate the 5th anniversary of September 11, 2001. The ceremony included the announcement of a new project that will provide first responders across the state with instant messaging communications capabilities. Congressman Hal Rogers and state and local officials were also in attendance.
“The anniversary of 9/11 recalls moments of great tragedy and sorrow, but also reminds us of the heroic efforts of our nation’s first responders who worked together in the aftermath of the attacks to help save lives and serve their communities,” said Governor Fletcher. “This new project will ensure our first responders have the tools and resources they need to communicate effectively while they protect Kentucky citizens.”
The communications project, entitled KYWINS Messenger, is being piloted in southeast Kentucky. It will allow all public safety users on the state’s wireless data system to exchange messages with one another from mobile data computers inside response vehicles or from a stationary computer. The program can also quickly broadcast a message to all users within seconds. Mobile data messaging technology provides a redundant form of communication for public safety officials if voice communication is unavailable.
“9/11 revealed a huge gap in our emergency response system - the inability of various state, local and federal emergency services from being able to effectively communicate with one another,” Congressman Rogers stated. “The KYWINS Messaging system will create a common software platform to coordinate communication, provide accurate situational awareness to decision makers and assist in providing the appropriate level of response and alert.”
The program is in its final stages as a pilot project. It is expected to be accessible to all public safety agencies throughout the commonwealth later this fall. The project is the result of a collaborative effort between the Kentucky Office of Homeland Security (KOHS), Justice and Public Safety Cabinet, Commonwealth Office of Technology (COT) and the Center for Rural Development (CRD).
During today’s announcement, a technology demonstration was held by officers from Kentucky State Police (KSP) Post 11 (on site), KSP Post 12 (remote), Pulaski County Sheriff’s Office (on site), Pulaski County and KSP Post 11 dispatch and the state Intelligence Fusion Center in Frankfort.
“On September 11, 2001, over 300 New York City firefighters lost their lives because they couldn’t communicate with one another and with local law enforcement,” said (Ret) Maj. Alecia Webb-Edgington, director of KOHS. “Emergency communications remains the number one priority for first responders here in Kentucky and across the nation, and this project has great potential to be a key piece in our efforts towards providing responders with these critical capabilities.”
Justice and Public Safety Cabinet Secretary General Norman E. Arflack said: “The challenge of communications interoperability has plagued public safety agencies for decades. Together, technology and leadership can give first responders and public safety agencies the ability to exchange voice and data on demand, in real time, when needed. Great progress has been made, but there is still work to be done. The critical foundation for an effective response is the ability to instantly communicate. Although the issue of interoperability is one that was well known and discussed in the law enforcement and emergency management communities for some time, September 11th, vividly raised public awareness.”
Commissioner of COT Mark Rutledge said: “Today demonstrates how technology can aid our public safety officials in communications so we can better serve the commonwealth. The adoption of wireless networking technologies will enable first responders to access data resources, communicate with their colleagues and dispatch across jurisdictional boundaries. With the leadership and vision of Governor Fletcher and Congressman Rogers, combined with the strong partnership between COT, KOHS, Justice Cabinet and the Kentucky Wireless Interoperability Executive Committee (KWIEC), we are all committed in providing new technologies to improve statewide interoperability for Kentucky’s public safety community.”
The project was paid for by a $46,152 homeland security grant provided to CRD and a $22,308 homeland security grant provided to COT. KSP and COT developed the solution along with technical staff from CRD.
Lonnie Lawson, President and CEO of CRD concluded: “I am extremely excited about the KYWINS program. This program will provide critical interoperable communications between our public safety personnel no matter what individual software products they are using. This is yet another example of the effectiveness of the partnership between CRD, KOHS, COT and the Justice and Public Safety Cabinet. Working as a team, I believe we are making a significant contribution to the safety of all Kentuckians by providing powerful technical tools such as KYWINS for use by our public safety agencies.”