Officials announce project to provide first responders with instant messaging capabilities
Gov. Ernie Fletcher and Fifth District Congressman
Harold “Hal” Rogers watch Lt. Allan Coomer, public
information officer for the Somerset Police
Department, demonstrate the KYWINS instant
Gov. Ernie Fletcher and Fifth District Congressman
Harold “Hal” Rogers.
(Photos courtesy of the Somerset Commonwealth
Gov. Ernie Fletcher, Congressman Hal Rogers and other public officials commemorated the fifth anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks at a Somerset ceremony that included the announcement of a new project. The communications project, called KYWINS Messenger, will provide first responders across the state with instant messaging communications capabilities.
“The anniversary of 9/11 recalls moments of great tragedy and sorrow, but also reminds us of the heroic efforts of our nation’s first responders, who worked together in the aftermath of the attacks to help save lives and serve their communities,” said Gov. Fletcher. “This new project will ensure our first responders have the tools and resources they need to communicate effectively while they protect Kentucky citizens.”
KYWINS Messenger is being piloted in southeast Kentucky. It will allow all public safety users on the state’s wireless data system to exchange messages with one another from stationary computers and mobile data terminals inside response vehicles. The program can also quickly broadcast messages to all users within seconds and will provide a redundant form of communication for public safety officials if voice communication is unavailable in an emergency situation.
“Sept. 11 revealed a huge gap in our emergency response system; the inability of various state, local and federal emergency services to communicate with one another,” Congressman Rogers stated. “The KYWINS Messaging system will create a common software platform to coordinate communication, provide accurate situational awareness to decision makers and assist in providing the appropriate level of response and alert.”
The pilot program is in its final stages. It is expected to be accessible to all public safety agencies throughout the commonwealth later this fall. The project is the result of a collaborative effort between the Kentucky Office of Homeland Security (KOHS), the Justice and Public Safety Cabinet, the Commonwealth Office of Technology (COT) and the Center for Rural Development (CRD).
During the announcement, a technology demonstration was held by officers from Kentucky State Police (KSP) Post 11, KSP Post 12, the Pulaski County Sheriff’s Office, Pulaski County and KSP Post 11 dispatch and the state Intelligence Fusion Center in Frankfort.
“On Sept. 11, 2001, more than 300 New York City firefighters lost their lives because they couldn’t communicate with one another and with local law enforcement,” said (Ret) Maj. Alecia Webb-Edgington, director of KOHS. “Emergency communications remain the number one priority for first responders here in Kentucky and across the nation, and this project has great potential to be a key piece in our efforts toward providing responders with these critical capabilities.”
Justice and Public Safety Cabinet Secretary General Norman E. Arflack said, “The challenge of communications interoperability has plagued public safety agencies for decades. Together, technology and leadership can give first responders and public safety agencies the ability to exchange voice and data on demand, in real time, when needed. Great progress has been made, but there is still work to be done. The critical foundation for an effective response is the ability to instantly communicate. Although the issue of interoperability is one that was well known and discussed in the law enforcement and emergency management communities for some time, Sept. 11 vividly raised public awareness.”
COT Commissioner Mark Rutledge said, “Today demonstrates how technology can aid our public safety officials in communications so we may better serve the commonwealth. The adoption of wireless networking technologies will enable first responders to access data resources, communicate with their colleagues and dispatch across jurisdictional boundaries. With the leadership and vision of Gov. Fletcher and Congressman Rogers, combined with the strong partnership between COT, KOHS, Justice Cabinet and the Kentucky Wireless Interoperability Executive Committee (KWIEC), we are all committed to providing new technologies to improve statewide interoperability for Kentucky’s public safety community.”
The project was paid for by homeland security grants provided to CRD and COT in the amounts of $42,152 and $22,308, respectively. The solution was jointly developed by KSP, COT and CRD technical staff.
Lonnie Lawson, president and CEO of CRD concluded saying, “I am extremely excited about the KYWINS program. This program will provide critical interoperable communications between our public safety personnel no matter what individual software products they are using. This is yet another example of the effectiveness of the partnership between CRD, KOHS, COT and the Justice and Public Safety Cabinet. Working as a team, I believe we are making a significant contribution to the safety of all Kentuckians by providing powerful technical tools such as KYWINS for use by our public safety agencies.”
The Kentucky Office of Homeland Security has been charged by Gov. Fletcher to lead the commonwealth's coordination and collaboration efforts with public and private preparedness partners to ensure Kentucky is ready and prepared. For more information about homeland security in Kentucky, please visit www.homelandsecurity.ky.gov.