New York is making $75 million in state grant funding will be available through Statewide Interoperability Communications Grants (SICG) to help counties strengthen and improve their emergency communications systems. The focus of this round will be to expand communications functions with neighboring counties and first responders. Over the previous two rounds of SICG funding, $122 million has been awarded to counties across the state.
The SICG program is a multi-year competitive grant, funded by the Statewide Public Safety Communications Account (i.e. cellular surcharge revenue) that is focused on the commitment to regional partnerships, formalizing governance and implementing operating procedures between counties and first response agencies. Similar to previous SICG grant funding, these SICG applications must pertain to response-level emergency communications across multiple jurisdictions and agencies, including State agencies, and must utilize non-proprietary, open standards-based technologies and equipment.
County Public Safety Organizations who have not previously received SICG awards under Round 1 or Round 2 may apply for up to $6 million in funding through the SICG program to facilitate the development, consolidation, and/or improved operation of public safety communications to support and enhance statewide interoperable communications for first responders.
A number of states have plans underway to improve the communications ability of first responders. Part of these programs will work in conjunction with the creation of FirstNet, a nationwide first responder dedicated communications channel. Other programs like the grants announced in New York will serve complementary functions.
CivSource has reported on the troubled FirstNet project which has been marked by frustration at both the state and vendor level about how to proceed. A recent story noted that Motorola Solutions may have also been involved in a vendor effort to derail the project totally. Complementary programs like SICG may serve as backstops as well if the FirstNet project ultimately fails.
“These grants are vital to improving emergency communications through equipment purchases, training and regionalization.” DHSES Commissioner Jerome M. Hauer said. “By linking County and regional systems together, the response to large scale natural or man-made disasters will be greatly improved.”