COBRA binds smaller communities together
| 11.28.2006 | 06:10:59 | Views: 3021 | ID:
November 28 '06: When the Department of Commerce began to auction off analog radio frequencies, the proceeds were collected and then used to supply first responder and homeland security grants to state and local agencies that needed the money to boost their own interoperable and communications abilities. In Arizona, according to Nogales International, the first $1 billion went to help projects like the Collaborative Border Regional Alliance.
COBRA as the alliance is known, was meant to link regional, state and local law enforcement officials with responders and other emergency managers and help smaller locales afford expensive technology through a partnership developed between the private sector and regional government.In Arizona, COBRA was designed by Mike Lindsey, a communications specialist in Santa Cruz County and Rail Mavis, the county's technology director. "The idea" of COBRA, according to Nogales International, "is a bit like Vonage, the Internet telephone service." "COBRA [is] a system of systems. The idea is to let each first responder unit choose their own emergency communications system, then patch the systems together when it is necessary using Internet Protocol," Nogales International reported. Mavis said the same theory applies to computers to allow Macs and PCs to "both use the Internet." Under the alliance, each county involved would have a communications system centrally located "that basically works like an old switchboard operator," Nogales International continued. "An agency, say the Nogales Police Department, will call the operator and ask to be patched together with the Willcox Police Department. A few keystrokes later, the officers can communicate." To date, there are over a dozen counties, Indian Nations, districts and regional responder communities that have either entered into the alliance, or are moving to join. The necessary infrastructure arrangements are being implemented as well, area officials said, with relay towers and switches being built.
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