Electronic Design

Still Far To Go

Achieving the goals of P25 has been slow. Initially, the holdup was due to competition among stakeholders. The destruction of the World Trade Center and then of a good part of New Orleans finally focused public opinion and government attention on the problem of interoperability.

Yet after nearly two decades, only the handheld radio interface standard is finished, though the RF Subsystem Interface (ISSI) is close to completion. An initial draft of the ISSI protocol was issued early in 2006, and public safety and emergency response jurisdictions are already requiring vendors to comply with ISSI in contract requests.

The six remaining P25 standards will deal with dispatch consoles and other major network equipment. That makes them somewhat less critical for tactical communications during events that require mutual aid, but they would be useful to have in place for strategic communications during long-term disasters, such as hurricanes or major earthquakes. Whether they can be completed and implemented in hardware before they’re needed remains to be seen.

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