Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

February 3, 2006

Information-sharing at ports: more than radios

Filed under: Intelligence and Info-Sharing,Port and Maritime Security — by Christian Beckner on February 3, 2006

The San Diego Union-Tribune reports today on a meeting to discuss port security sponsored by the California Office of Homeland Security:

John MacIntyre, program manager for homeland security at the San Diego Unified Port District, said he wants various security agencies – from the police to the U.S. Border Patrol – to improve the way they share data and information.

While those agencies now have radio equipment with the ability to communicate on the same frequency, more training is needed to make sure they talk successfully, MacIntyre said.

“It’s one thing to have a radio,” he said while attending a regional conference of homeland security officials in Los Angeles. “It’s another thing to be able to pick it up, use it and talk freely and clearly understand who’s on the other end of it.”

This is a very good point that is often overlooked in the discussions about interoperable communications for first responders and law enforcement officials. The government entities investing in these technologies will fail to capture the full value of their investments if they don’t think about the organizational imperatives of their use. Training is important, but I also think there needs to be incentives (both carrots and sticks) to motivate information-sharing and break down cultural barriers among rival agencies.

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