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Interoperable Communications Planning in Oklahoma

What is Interoperability?

Interoperability is the ability for public safety personnel to talk with one another via communication systems - to exchange voice and/or data with one another on demand and in real-time, whenever necessary.  It creates intercommunications that support effective tactical incident management and strategic emergency management activities; these in turn support a continuity of operations and government functions during emergencies and catastrophic events.

The Importance of Interoperability

The following high-profile public safety events demonstrate the importance of reliable communications interoperability:

Oklahoma City Bombing

On April 19, 1995, Oklahoma City suffered the largest domestic terrorist attack on American soil. The Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building, located in Downtown Oklahoma City, was the site of a calculated explosion that killed 168 people and injured hundreds more. During the search and rescue efforts, critical information in the form of hand-written notes was passed between first responders via couriers equipped with golf carts due to the lack of seamless interoperable communications between responders.


Oklahoma City Traffic Accident

In the early morning of August 31, 2000, a member of the Oklahoma City Police Department was in pursuit of a vehicle traveling the wrong way on Interstate 40 in downtown Oklahoma City.  At the same time, a member of the Oklahoma Highway Patrol was en route to assist on an unrelated call when all three vehicles collided causing them to become engulfed in flames.  The two law enforcement officials, along with the two suspects, were killed in the collision.  An investigation found that the officers were unable to communicate with each other via radio.


September 11, 2001, Terrorist Attacks

On September 11, 2001, more than 2,700 people perished at the World Trade Center, including 340 firefighters. The 9/11 Commission Report describes multiple instances of public safety radio failure at the scene, including when first responders in the North Tower did not receive news of the South Tower’s collapse. Had the evacuation orders been received, loss of life may have been reduced.


Not Just for Major Events

The inability to relay incident scene information directly and effectively can jeopardize the lives of public safety personnel across the U.S. and in the state of Oklahoma.  Incompatible and ineffective communications systems hinder, and at times prohibit, incident coordination and daily operations.  As noted in the examples above, this lack of interoperability could lead to an unnecessary loss of human life and property.  Seamless radio communications is also critical for day-to-day operations among all first responders. From wildfires to routine traffic stops, reliable radio communications between first responders is vital to the safety of Oklahomans.

Related Links

Contact Information

Nikki Dallas

Statewide Interoperability Coordinator
(405) 425-2869

Sean Douglas

State Frequency Coordinator/Deputy SWIC
(405) 425-7275

Last Modified on Jan 16, 2024
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