State College, PA - Sep 30, 2009 - First responders from around Pennsylvania gathered for a hands-on demonstration during the statewide interoperability conference. The conference included emergency communications exercises designed to allow local officials to explore the ways they can take advantage of PA-Starnet, the commonwealth's public safety radio system.
Recently, the Starnet system provided the backbone for all communications during the G-20 Summit in Pittsburgh. The system allowed federal agencies, state and local police, as well as Allegheny County, the city of Pittsburgh, and emergency medical personnel to work together using a single communication tool.
Roughly 250 first responders and local officials attended the third annual conference hosted by the Office of Public Safety Radio Services. Maj. Gen. Stephen M. Sischo, Deputy Adjutant General for Air Operations for the Pennsylvania National Guard spoke on interoperability and the importance of communications in a post 9/11 climate.
The Starnet system processed more than 100,000 calls during the G-20 summit. The PA State Police was the largest user. The PSP relied on the network to coordinate communications between police on the ground and PSP helicopters and airplanes. Security personnel on the ground were able to view video feeds from aircraft to monitor the movements of protesters. The full-motion video capability is a first for the system. In all, six state agencies, Allegheny County, the City of Pittsburgh, every hospital emergency room in the region and several federal agencies were linked together on the network.
Interoperability conference attendees participated in an exercise that featured a disaster scenario at a popular music festival. PA-Starnet is one of the largest public safety communications systems in North America. It is used by state and local government agencies and business partners for agency dispatch and mobile voice and data communication for public safety and emergency response.