Governor Kathy Hochul unveiled a substantial $55 million allocation in state funds dedicated to upgrading emergency communication infrastructures across 57 counties, including New York City. The financial boon stems from two grants under the aegis of the Statewide Interoperable Communications Grant program, aiming to elevate the efficacy and reach of emergency communication protocols.
The program, through its twin grants, ensures that eligible counties are reimbursed for fortifying their emergency communication systems. It also channels funds to bolster the capabilities of public safety call reception and dispatching functions.
One of the two grants, the Public Safety Answering Point Operations Grant (PSAP), employs a non-competitive formula-based distribution system. The grant’s allocation criteria pivot on various factors ranging from the operational scale, demographic elements, emergency call metrics, the incorporation of emergent technologies, to compliance with state and federal emergency communication guidelines. A pivotal objective of PSAP is fostering the integration of Next Generation 911 (NG911) technologies and the imperative Geographic Information System (GIS) data tailored for NG911. Additionally, it champions procedural efficiency and fosters collaboration across diverse jurisdictions.
Governor Hochul underscored the state’s unwavering commitment to public safety, remarking, “Year after year, we persist in channeling funds to every county and New York City, underscoring our mission to safeguard New Yorkers. These grants are instrumental in achieving that.” She further accentuated that the impetus for these grants is to fortify communication frameworks, thereby streamlining the operations of emergency responders.
The distribution of the $55 million fund is orchestrated by the State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services (DHSES). A lion’s share of $45 million emanates from the SICG-Formula grants, while the remaining $10 million is earmarked for PSAP grants. Both initiatives amplify local emergency response frameworks and foster communication synergy amongst the state’s public safety entities.
Echoing the Governor’s sentiments, Jackie Bray, the Commissioner of the Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services, asserted the paramount importance of equipping first responders with cutting-edge communication tools. Bray commented, “Clear communication during crises is indispensable. These grants empower localities, ensuring they are armed with the resources to augment their emergency communications while also reinforcing interoperability.”
The SICG-Formula Grant primarily concentrates on bridging any lingering communication chasms. It does so by aligning technology procurements with their operational deployment among first responders. This grant, resonating with directives from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the DHS Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, facilitates the upgrade of communication systems, training modules, and governance frameworks.
In the latest announcement, Rockland County was awarded significant funds from both grant programs. For the SICG-Formula grant, Rockland County received an award of $758,386. On the other hand, from the PSAP grant, Rockland County secured an allocation of $176,964.