February 3, 2009

N.J. completes light rail communication system

New Jersey Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness (NJOHSP) and New Jersey Transit Police officials and representatives from Newark-area emergency response agencies announced the completion of a communication system upgrade recently installed on Newark Light Rail, which enables dozens of responding agencies to communicate via a common radio channel.

"Enhancing interoperable communications among and between first responders in this part of New Jersey because of its heavy reliance on the mass transportation network, like the Newark Light Rail, is a key component of our state’s homeland security strategy," said NJOHSP Director Richard L. Cañas. "We will continue to invest federal and state funds to ensure that emergency personnel are able to communicate in real-time during any type of emergency."

The Interoperable Communication System enables dozens of responding agencies — including fire, police and EMS — to communicate with each other via a common radio channel, accessible from each department’s own radio equipment. The system includes 31 operational and response agencies.

With $2 million in funding provided by the NJOHSP, New Jersey Transit upgraded the communication system in the Newark Light Rail tunnel to support interoperable communications. As a result of the upgrade, personnel responding to an emergency on the light rail system will be able to coordinate their response and share critical information.

The need for the upgrade was identified during a functional exercise on the Newark Light Rail system that revealed a gap in communication among responding agencies.

The Newark Light Rail interoperable communication system was activated Dec. 18, 2008.

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