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Post-9/11 DOJ Tech Project Dying After 10 Years? 115

Posted by samzenpus
from the time-to-give-up dept.
gManZboy writes "A secure, interoperable radio network that the Department of Justice has been working on for more than a decade and that has cost the agency $356 million may be headed for failure, according to a new report by the agency's inspector general. Called for in the wake of 9/11, the Integrated Wireless Network (IWS) project has already been repeatedly scaled back. Today, the Department of Justice continues to rely on several separate land mobile radio systems, some of which are unreliable, obsolete, and fail to interoperate with one another. Agents often have to swap radios, share channels, or refer to a book of radio frequencies and manually switch between those frequencies to stay online. Radios remain insecure, as much of the current equipment fails to meet encryption requirements. Much of the agency's equipment is more than 15 years old and is no longer even supported by the manufacturer."
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Post-9/11 DOJ Tech Project Dying After 10 Years?

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  • by Gothmolly (148874) on Thursday January 19, 2012 @07:57PM (#38756426)

    The point was NOT to create a secure, interoperable radio network. The purpose of the plan was to create legions of (somehow) "successful" project managers and government hangers-on with quasi-governmental authority, and pump money into those organizations in return for future favors. Whether or not it produced anything was irrelevant. Around 9/11 there's so much fearmongering that nobody will say no.

    • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

      by dgatwood (11270)

      Even if it were, I'm not convinced that a secure network for this sort of thing is appropriate. Imagine a world in which the media do not arrive until an hour after the police because they can no longer use scanners to monitor the chatter. That significantly impacts the press's ability to serve as a guardian of freedom.

      Imagine a world in which home burglars sneak into an occupied house at night. They don't hear the police call on the radio, so they don't know that the police are on their way. Instead of

      • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 19, 2012 @08:33PM (#38756766)

        By and large, the 'public' doesn't have access to police communications; you must hang out with a different class of people. And which burglars DO you know? They aren't the ones doing most of crime in most of the cities where it's smash and grab.

        Oh, and guardians of freedom, the press? Give me a break. $356M is a lot of money to me, but to those who perpetrated the largest transfer of wealth in history, that would be Bush/Cheney Inc., $356M is mice nutz, and the press did everything but crawl in bed with the bastards. We don't have a Congress, much less a 4th estate, that qualifies, in general, as guardians of freedom.

        Hey, send some of whatever you're smokin' to my hood, and I'll see if I can pass it out to all the police scanner wielding guardians of freedom I meet up with after they've attributed the latest National Intelligence Assessment to sources who can't be named.

        BTW I worked on a partnership/proposal with Northrop Grumman to deliver hardware for the secure, private 1st responder network that was supposed to blanket Manhattan with a 2.4 Ghz Wifi based mobile communications network. 'We' came, we spoke, we left... I've spoken w/ people in several technical camps who believe that the biggest impediment are entrenched contractors, like Motorola, but I'm convinced that only satellite based system makes any sense, anyway. Because in the event of a large scale disaster, there's no way to ensure the integrity of enough of the infrastructure so that the communications load would be reliable. On top of which, you'd still have to have the means by which each of the various groups would be able to take turns speaking without stepping on each other... who's gonna lead/follow or get out of the way?

        There's no AWAC in the sky or central command, and there's no way to practice for the 'big one.' So it's no surprise there's been -0.0- progress on this Applepeye-in-the-Sky project. Besides, if we wait long enough, the Chinese will implement a system that we can buy from Walmart.

        • by Lumpy (12016) on Thursday January 19, 2012 @10:18PM (#38757570) Homepage

          "By and large, the 'public' doesn't have access to police communications;"

          Really, so Radio Shack is a place that sells thief tools? They sell scanners that in most towns let you listen to police communications.
          Some cities have switched to digital, but most still have analog unencrypted clear voice communications and the list of the frequencies is readily available everywhere.

          • The people who do not have a scanner do not have "access" to those channels. They could get a scanner, but have no desire to. Mostly because the police log is published in the newspaper, and they take that at face value. And without one, they cannot listen in.

        • by Archangel Michael (180766) on Thursday January 19, 2012 @10:50PM (#38757726) Journal

          356 Million over how many years is chump change to both (D) and (R) parties. Hell, even your revered Obama managed to send 500 Million to Solyndra only to have it go bankrupt MONTHS later. BOTH parties are raiding the public treasure chest for their own goals.

          To blame Bush only, as you have, is simply ignoring the other 1/2 the problem, and short sighted on your part. Bush and crew are exactly Obama and crew, only you like Obama and will ignore his malfeasance. Both parties are responsible for where we are right now, 15 TRILLION in debt, and will be MUCH closer to 20 by the time we have elections with no slowing down in sight. We are unsustainable economically, something GREEN liberals should understand. And no, taxing 100% of the income of the top 20% of earners won't solve the problem either, it won't even put a dent in it.

          If you want my opinion, the solution would be to find several midwestern citys of similar size and give each contractor a set budget and time limit to build out competing infrastructure of their complete choosing. The one contractor that meets the goals of the project in the budget and time constraints gets the specs to build out the rest of the country. In addition, those specs become OPEN in ten years (or whatever) for interoperability and competition, meaning the buildout needs to be complete by then by the awarded contract or tough shit. Lets use COMPETITION, real competition, to accelerate innovation.

          THAT kind of approach will put America back to work. We're Americans, stop the whining and get to building shit and kicking ass.

          • by hedwards (940851)

            It's not one half of the problem. Obama can't cut spending right now as that would just put us back in the recession. He can't raise taxes either as the GOP won't allow tax raises because of their fealty pledge to Norquist.

            What's more Obama has taken a lot of the spending that had been off the books and placed it on the books. When you consider that the national debt was $10.6tn when Obama was inaugerated and consequently it's a bit odd to suggest that President Obama is half responsible, unless of course I

            • I agree, we don't need military ... gut it, bring the troops home from everywhere. We can't be the worlds police men. At the same time, lets gut Social Programs that can't prove they are worth anything. And for every "but" you give to gutting social programs, I get one "but" on military budget, and see how that goes.

              Which, is the heart of the problem, nobody want to cut THAT program because it servers THAT constituency. So it doesn't get cut, and neither does the other thing. Which proves my point.

              You reali

          • by b4dc0d3r (1268512)

            If you want to make a decent point, leave Solyndra out of it. There are lots of people who believe that the role of government is to spend money developing things that are not yet commercially viable, but should be. Create a market and then let private companies enter when they can.

            Like spacecraft, from which we now benefit in advanced understandings of our galaxy and universe. Or cancer research, which many big pharma companies don't want to investigate because it is an umbrella of thousands of differen

            • I was using Solyndra as comparative example of government waste, so it is extremely applicable to the original post I was responding to, which made the case for 300+ million spread over almost a decade was somehow wasteful. And Solyndra is STILL making news, destroying perfectly good inventory instead of paying back its debts.

              And no, the roll of government is not to prop up failing commercial enterprises with unsecured loans. This goes beyond "green" energy and goes right to the heart of political corruptio

        • by Gordonjcp (186804)

          I'm convinced that only satellite based system makes any sense, anyway.

          So you don't need any in-building coverage, then?

      • Opt for both. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by khasim (1285) <brandioch.conner@gmail.com> on Thursday January 19, 2012 @08:42PM (#38756846)

        For day to day police operations, the system should be able to handle unencrypted traffic.

        Because adding encryption means an additional layer that can go wrong and thus necessitates a 2nd channel for the support people to use to try to fix the primary (encrypted) channel.

        And have encryption an option for the times when you REALLY need it. And have frequent tests of it to make sure that everyone knows how to enable it.

        But I'm more in agreement with the GP post. This wasn't really about a working radio system. It was about moving public money to private businesses. The WTC attack and the fear were just the excuses used. IF a working product was delivered ... wow! If not, at least your buddies collected their share of the HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS OF DOLLARS in this project.

        • This wasn't really about a working radio system. It was about moving public money to private businesses.

          Of course.

          In fact it'd be much better for everybody, including emergency services, if everybody switched over to mesh communications (like the Serval project http://www.servalproject.org/about/how-it-works [servalproject.org]). It'll never happen though, because decentralised systems don't allow for ongoing billing.

        • by Gordonjcp (186804)

          Because adding encryption means an additional layer that can go wrong and thus necessitates a 2nd channel for the support people to use to try to fix the primary (encrypted) channel.

          Is that why you still use unencrypted wifi? Obviously it's too complex to encrypt your wifi traffic, and it's an additional layer that can go wrong...

        • Actually I'd be surprised if their are 1st responder comm systems that aren't off the shelf with hardware encryption. "encryption an option for the times when you REALLY need it" is a bad idea because when you use it, it become obvious that you "REALLY need it", kind of like putting a "kick me" sign on the back of a one legged man in the ass kicking contest. If your going to encrypt something, you should encrypt everything, just like if you shred some documents you should shred them all.

      • It's unlikely burglars carry scanners on their rounds. Maybe before and after, but during might get kind of cumbersome and noisy.

        The DC police chief had this to say about it: [dcist.com]

        "Lanier stressed that new mobile technologies like scanner apps for phones made the move even more vital, and cited a number of cases where police suspected that criminals used scanners to stay ahead of police. A rash of carjackings in Capitol Hill in 2010 was facilitated by mobile scanners, she said, as was an alleged drug operation r

        • by dgatwood (11270)

          It's unlikely burglars carry scanners on their rounds. Maybe before and after, but during might get kind of cumbersome and noisy.

          Don't forget the guy in the getaway car honking the horn.

          Lanier stressed that new mobile technologies like scanner apps for phones made the move even more vital, and cited a number of cases where police suspected that criminals used scanners to stay ahead of police. A rash of carjackings in Capitol Hill in 2010 was facilitated by mobile scanners, she said, as was an alleged drug o

        • by Anonymous Coward

          It's unlikely burglars carry scanners on their rounds. Maybe before and after, but during might get kind of cumbersome and noisy.

          As an urban explorer who sometimes, um, "rescues" equipment from abandoned and rotting buildings for hobby purposes (amongst other things, a decommissioned civil defense siren, a seventy-year-old, 3/4 ton, 70,000 volt transformer, and a 5-ton chain hoist, for moving said transformer down 12 floors*), I can tell you that yes, we did in fact use scanners on-site, as well as look-outs. If we had been into burgling homes, I doubt we would have, but a scanner in the room being worked, along with radio-equipeed

      • Re: (Score:1, Troll)

        by benjamindees (441808)

        Imagine a world in which the US government blew up the Twin Towers and there was no record of it because all the recordings of them telling people that they were about to blow them up didn't exist because their communication was encrypted.

        Imagine a world in which all the neo-con morons in the Bush administration got the "new Pearl Harbor" that they wanted in order to launch us into WWIII so that they could profit from the resulting war spending and rise in oil prices.

        Imagine a world in which the entire DOJ

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          Imagine a world where those suffering from BDS (Bush Derangement Syndrome) spin absolutely preposterous "theories", like the US Gov't blowing up the twin towers. Forget radios - how many people would need be involved? How likely is it that NONE of them will talk? And none of them took pictures of the explosives being planted in the WTC? Oh, wait, maybe those who were about to talk were quietly censored (how exactly does that work) or were detained indefinitely in gulags. Maybe it was those hundreds of Black
          • by dgatwood (11270)

            Forget radios - how many people would need be involved? How likely is it that NONE of them will talk?

            If you do it right, pretty close to a 100% chance. You tell them that they're installing HVAC equipment or something. You send them all in a few minutes apart, and make sure it takes at least an hour to do the job. Then you set them off remotely before the first worker leaves the building. For the higher-ups, you promise that if they talk, they will be "disappeared".

            I'm not in any way insinuating that t

            • You tell them that they're installing HVAC equipment or something.

              ...and that would work, too, because there's no chance that people who install HVAC equipment for a living would notice that the "HVAC" equipment is full of C4. Yes, I know, HVACs are big boxes and you could cram all sorts of stuff in them... this might fool me and you (since we don't know what's supposed to be in that big box), but installing them involves opening all the doors and connecting the innards to gas, power, water, air ducts, temperature control systems, etc.

              Oh, and where did these explosive

              • by dgatwood (11270)

                ...and that would work, too, because there's no chance that people who install HVAC equipment for a living would notice that the "HVAC" equipment is full of C4. Yes, I know, HVACs are big boxes and you could cram all sorts of stuff in them... this might fool me and you (since we don't know what's supposed to be in that big box), but installing them involves opening all the doors and connecting the innards to gas, power, water, air ducts, temperature control systems, etc.

                HVAC units was an entirely arbitrary

          • Forget radios - how many people would need be involved? How likely is it that NONE of them will talk? And none of them took pictures of the explosives being planted in the WTC? Oh, wait, maybe those who were about to talk were quietly censored (how exactly does that work) or were detained indefinitely in gulags. Maybe it was those hundreds of Blackwater contractors who went missing right around 9/11... oh wait, no one ever reported any such thing... OK, so their entire families were hauled off, too. That would explain those hundreds of families that simply disappeared from neighborhoods and schools and spousal jobs, etc. Wait, no one ever heard about that either? I guess those evil bastards kidnapped everyone who knew anyone in the families - and everyone THEY knew, too. Oh, and what about the hauler-offers? You can't have them telling embarrassing tales - best to tell THEM to report to the gulag as soon as they're done kidnapping tens of thousands of people.

            What possible reason could someone with inside knowledge of such a plot have for coming forward? What's the upside? That you make an unprovable claim about something most people consider to be impossible? You would be a laughing stock, or worse lose your job and standing. Ever heard of Kevin Ryan from Underwriters Laboratories? See what happened to him.

            Let's say someone did come forward, and was actually believed by anyone. What do you think one person could do against people who allegedly rigged thr

      • by Ihmhi (1206036)

        Imagine a world in which home burglars sneak into an occupied house at night.

        In many places, this world already exists.

        More and more police departments are turning to encrypted communications largely because of the existence of scanners. Moreover, those lovely little computers that sit in their cruisers are also often equipped with a silent instant-messaging program that is also secure and encrypted.

        • The one burglary I experienced, a guy tried to climb through a high window into the kitchen. I heard him struggle, woke up, went to see what is going on, and hit him over the head with a plastic bottle of Coca Cola that was standing on the counter. The police were very amused at having to revive him and drag him out. I didn't even have to go to court about that - the poor sod really didn't know what hit him...
      • by AJH16 (940784)

        Or... Perhaps knowing that they won't have the warning, burglars get the hell out of dodge faster and are less likely to go burglarizing. There is a far cry difference from taking somebodies stuff and holding hostages. There is also a lot of comfort in being able to know that someone is coming. But hey, don't let reality get in the way of your painting a good thing as a bad one.

        As for the press, I don't think it would cripple them as much as you think, but if it was going to be an issue, then some type o

    • The project also seems to have suffered from scope creep.

      Initially, the original project was about making the communication systems more inter-operable and easier to use between agencies, departments, and jurisdictions.

      Then, somehow it also became about making the systems more secure and encrypted (which in my mind is a completely opposite constraint than making a system more inter-operable and easier to use).

      And now, the system is being criticized for not being able to withstand natural disasters, since it

      • One standard that emerged and is in use is the APCO-25 digital radio standards. Its still not all that widespread though. Departments don't have the budget to upgrade their radio equipment all that much, so older analog equipment still rules the airwaves.
    • by timeOday (582209) on Thursday January 19, 2012 @09:08PM (#38757046)

      The purpose of the plan was to create legions of (somehow) "successful" project managers and government hangers-on with quasi-governmental authority, and pump money into those organizations in return for future favors.

      In that case, the project failed, because it was originally planned at $5BN, and only 1/15th of that was spent on it. And of that, according to the article, "Much of the funding for IWN at the time went instead to maintain creaky legacy systems."

      In other words, they backed down from the plan, and fell back on supporting the status quo. Which is kind of sad, but maybe it wasn't worth $5BN and we should be glad support was withdrawn.

    • by hey! (33014) on Friday January 20, 2012 @12:13AM (#38758146) Homepage Journal

      Back then I worked for a small company that was involved with public health technology consulting, and of course there was the anthrax scare shortly after 9/11. Oh, yes, and there was West Nile Virus. The legislative response to those things was a bonanza for big-time contractors and small-time ones willing to sell their soul. There were huge money bombs being set off all over the place.

      Forget bureaucratic empire building -- there wasn't time for that. The money was flying out the door faster than anyone could possibly control. Often it was spent on total vaporware projects; you didn't have to have a product or experience to grab a pile of dough, as long as you had a lobbyist with legislative connections.

      The lobbying thing wasn't new, of course, but I don't think it was so open and brazen before that. I saw a lot of post 9/11 projects, but I can't think of *one* of them that had any value at all. Now I know a lot of state and federal bureaucrats in public health, and they're honest people who believe in the mission and do valuable, practical work. But *they* didn't get any money bombs dropped on them (possibly they'd have inconveniently independent ideas about what to do with it). For example the West Nile money was largely spent through the CDC's Atlanta HQ, even though Ft. Collins does all the mosquito borne disease stuff.

      On the local level the money didn't go to state agencies that had significant capabilities to put it to use in fieldwork; in fact they got practically none of the money so far as I could see. The money went to state agencies that didn't know how to spend the money, and they couldn't learn because they had to spend the money *immediately* or lose it. The vendors with connections in Atlanta were standing by to take the money off their hands.

      A cynical person would look at a situation like that and conclude the system was rigged to maximize the money going to vendors by preventing its application to useful things.

    • by Jawnn (445279)
      Incorrect. Not the bureaucracy isn't to blame for much, if not most of the mistakes made, but interagency communications has been a hassle for emergency services since they adopted the second new radio technology. The demands of police, fire, and EMS communications are different, so it's not surprising that disparate systems are spec'd, bid, and purchased. As someone who has worked in two of those roles for many years, I will say that there were times that it would have been nice to be able to talk with uni
  • Is it sad (Score:4, Interesting)

    by ticker47 (954580) on Thursday January 19, 2012 @07:57PM (#38756432)
    that the government spending $356 million on a failed project doesn't sound like that much money anymore?
    • Re:Is it sad (Score:4, Insightful)

      by hedwards (940851) on Thursday January 19, 2012 @08:09PM (#38756558)

      $356m isn't much money which is why it doesn't sound like much money any more. That's basically a little over $1 for every person that resides in the US. The problem is that unless it's really obvious up front it's typically not worth looking for these sorts of expenditures when the DoD alone represents more wasted money than pretty much all these small potatoes altogether.

      • by Dr Fro (169927)

        I'll take my dollar back, if they don't mind...

        • Re:Is it sad (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Pharmboy (216950) on Thursday January 19, 2012 @08:51PM (#38756920) Journal

          And if you add that dollar to the $1.33 for Solyndra, and the dollars for all the other failures, pretty soon you have enough money for a nice bottle of Scotch for every man, woman and child, which is a good thing because this pissing away my money is definitely driving me to drinking.

          • by hedwards (940851)

            And if we didn't throw away so much money on the DoD and pointless war we could all have free cars. It's important to keep these things in perspective.

    • Since that is only like 4 hours worth of military spending it is really not all that surprising.

  • More goodies for the Swap n' Shop in Dayton!

  • Well, I'm glad at least a portion of their budget seems to be coming from the MAFIAA.
  • and nothing to show for it

    shocking ... really ... it ... is (yawn)

    • Re: (Score:2, Redundant)

      by artor3 (1344997)

      As we all know, no private business ever wastes money. They have a 100% success rate on all investments.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        The difference being, when a private business does so they go away. When the feds do so they raise your taxes and throw you in jail if you don't comply. I don't see Kodak on the news telling me if I just paid more taxes everything would be great.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 19, 2012 @08:10PM (#38756576)

    Carlin - The Real Owners Of America

    "The real owners are the big wealthy business interests that control things and make all the important decisions. Forget the politicians, they're an irrelevancy. The politicians are put there to give you the idea that you have freedom of choice. You don't. You have no choice. You have owners. They own you. They own everything. They own all the important land. They own and control the corporations. They've long since bought and paid for the Senate, the Congress, the statehouses, the city halls. They've got the judges in their back pockets. And they own all the big media companies, so that they control just about all of the news and information you hear. They've got you by the balls. They spend billions of dollars every year lobbying  lobbying to get what they want. Well, we know what they want; they want more for themselves and less for everybody else."

    "But I'll tell you what they don't want. They don't want a population of citizens capable of critical thinking. They don't want well-informed, well-educated people capable of critical thinking. They're not interested in that. That doesn't help them. That's against their interests. They don't want people who are smart enough to sit around the kitchen table and figure out how badly they're getting fucked by a system that threw them overboard 30 fucking years ago.

    "You know what they want? Obedient workers  people who are just smart enough to run the machines and do the paperwork but just dumb enough to passively accept all these increasingly shittier jobs with the lower pay, the longer hours, reduced benefits, the end of overtime and the vanishing pension that disappears the minute you go to collect it. And, now, they're coming for your Social Security. They want your fucking retirement money. They want it back, so they can give it to their criminal friends on Wall Street. And you know something? They'll get it. They'll get it all, sooner or later, because they own this fucking place. It's a big club, and you ain't in it. You and I are not in the big club."

    "This country is finished."

    suck the SOPA soap but don't drop it!
    have you seen the SOPA commercials where they depict an American flag falling apart? Clever brainwashing bitches!

  • by Anonymous Coward

    "A secure, interoperable radio network that the Department of Justice has been working on for more than a decade and that has cost the agency $356 million may be headed for failure,"

    Don't you mean COST THE TAXPAYERS?

  • Surprised? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ks*nut (985334) on Thursday January 19, 2012 @08:14PM (#38756622)
    And how is this any different than any of the programs that followed 9/11? TSA is trampling roughshod over travelers' rights, the Department of Homeland Security is a bloated farce, and the individual's basic rights under the Constitution have been eroded. To say nothing of the years of rendition flights, wars, and torture. I'm certainly glad that we're the "good guys." I wonder what the "bad guys" have been up to.
    • by Lumpy (12016)

      the TSA has not stopped ANY terrorists. They have been 100% ineffective and are 100% useless.

      Yes nobody points this out, but the love to point at a business failure, which is a very common thing when the economy is imploding. Solyndra was competing with China solar panels that are selling Retail for 1/2 the price of their raw materials. It's the CEO's fault for trying to start a business in a field that is racing for the lowest price.

      Solyndra was doomed the day the CEO opened the doors.

    • by Mitreya (579078)
      And how is this any different than any of the programs that followed 9/11?

      Ooh, ooh, ooh [raises hand] I know! At least this program is apparently being scrapped, while TSA is getting increased funding and building US-border scanners and releasing VIPR teams outside of the damn airports now.

  • by ScottBob (244972) on Thursday January 19, 2012 @08:43PM (#38756850)
    There is another interoperable radio network called Project 25 (www.project25.org) which sprung up in the wake of Hurricane Katrina because none of the agencies involved in rescue operations could communicate with each other, mainly because the vendors that sold equipment to the agencies had competing technologies, different frequency bands and encryption algorithms (or lack thereof), etc. AFIK, Project 25 is alive and kicking, all modern two-way radios sold these days that adhere to the standards set forth by Prohect 25 can communicate with each other, share the same bands, use the same encryption, etc.
    • by weav (158099)

      P25 also had its issues, like not all radios use the same CODECs (I'm looking at YOU, Motorola), all digital voice codecs do badly in the presence of lots of noise (next to a fire engine pumping hard, in a K9 cop car with the dog excited, sirens blaring, low-air-pressure warning going off inside the resipirator). Also from what i hear, I believe the encryption has been cracked.
      Not a panacea, P25.

      • by Gordonjcp (186804)

        all digital voice codecs do badly in the presence of lots of noise (next to a fire engine pumping hard, in a K9 cop car with the dog excited, sirens blaring, low-air-pressure warning going off inside the resipirator

        Which is weird because the horrible evil proprietary AMBE2+ codec used in DMR as used for Mototrbo (and related to the codecs used for P25, TETRA and D-Star) is extremely effective at cancelling environmental noise.

        It still sounds like an angry duck in a tin shithouse, though.

    • by Nethead (1563) <joe@nethead.com> on Thursday January 19, 2012 @09:32PM (#38757232) Homepage Journal

      Not modding you down but rather informing: APCO P25 come in to existence October of 1989. It had nothing to do with Katrina.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Project_25 [wikipedia.org]

    • Encryption really does seem like a bad idea for these types of systems though. There's a very narrow slice of emergencies when it's going to be needed (an active, hostile force is present) and in those cases the type of response we're talking about is more suited to the military then civilian responders.

      Whereas making sure that their are multiple redundant ways to get people connected together seems way more important.

    • by WA8LMF (2556936)

      1) Project 25 a.k.a "P25" long predated Katrina. P25 is a (supposedly) open-standard "design-by-committee" digital mobile radio standard still incomplete after 25 years of effort.

      2) An incredible amount of mis-information about P25 floats around among non-technical managers, politicians and government officials that keep repeating the post-911/post-Katrina mantra of "interoperability". The most egregious lack-of-understanding is that somehow merely owning and operating a "P25-compatible" network

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Given that P25 is my day job, I have some comments. Many base stations do P25 by running a software stack from a company called "Etherstack", not Motorola. I've got a feeling that Motorola might even use Etherstack. The company I work for (not Etherstack) has it's own P25 stack, written internally from scratch. It's in the base stations, which we OEM for some of the names you mentioned.

        Also, speaking for our own gear, the P25 infrastructure uses about the same power as the old FM gear (my company does b

  • Europe has a seemingly good standard called TETRA [wikipedia.org]. Finland uses it in it's own VIRVE [wikipedia.org] network. Why are you wasting money to implement a new standard?
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Because Motorola, effectively the only supplier of P25 equipment in North America and the largest TETRA supplier worldwide has no competition for these installations. It also hold numerous patents for TETRA, and has licensed to other suppliers for all areas other than North America. The Key patents are now expired and are expiring so you will see TETRA in North America

  • by unitron (5733) on Thursday January 19, 2012 @09:02PM (#38757016) Homepage Journal

    Didn't they tell us TV had to go from analog to digital to free up contiguous blocks of spectrum for first responders?

    Are they actually getting that spectrum, or is it all going to cell phone companies and such?

  • I heard last year that first responders are trying to hang onto a chunk of radio spectrum that the telecoms want. I don't think it was really about encryption so much as making sure that it could do trunking correctly - units could bring in radios across the country and have working interoperability. Encryption is its own ball of crazy. I for one would rather have the fire fighters have better radios, the fuzz can generally get good radios if they want them.

    This is apparently the "D Block" which is next to

    • by kilodelta (843627)
      Trunking also has an issue called blocking factor. In essence too many radios sharing the same set of frequencies. And one of the features of trunking is the ability to prioritize traffic. Causes many headaches!
  • Imagine if they had just endowed a couple open source/hardware BSD companies to generate competing projects. Two companies could hire a dozen programmers each to work year round for ten years. It would produce something everyone could use, the public, private companies, and the government itself would actually get a working system. And it would have only cost them around 35 million. 24 programmers x 100,000 x 10 years = $24mil. So another 11 million for overhead.

    If the companies were designed from the get

  • Flame me (Score:2, Offtopic)

    by Kagetsuki (1620613)

    Ok this is going to piss a lot of people off and it's barely related to the story but fuck it, I'm just going to say it. The US is a fucking shadow of what it once was and it's now a big corrupt joke. See that story about Asia overtaking the US in innovation? Yeah, it already happened 20 years ago, you're in denial. Your education sucks, you get worse scores on math tests than chirlden from countries where they don't own shirts and do their homework on slates. Your goverment fails at every project they unde

  • ... and for just a small fraction of what they paid. Just give me a waiver of all patent and copyright laws.

  • They called it a "Ghost Network [wikipedia.org]".

    Of course it involved manipulating the biology of the transceivers, but, hey, "eggs...scramble...break...", right?

    Seriously though, WTF!? These are the agencies that we "rely" on to protect us and they can't figure out how to fix the blinking 12:00 on the VCR? Yes, I purposely used an antiquated term for technical incompetence, because the tech is 15 years old!!

    "15 years ago" perspective:

  • Ham Radio (Score:5, Insightful)

    by thephydes (727739) on Friday January 20, 2012 @01:53AM (#38758488)
    Thank God for Ham Radio - all volunteers, most likely all patriots in time of great need, all providing gear of various levels of sophistication at no cost to the public.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    They should get in touch with these guy in Mexico who build communication networks, tunnels and submarines. They would set it all up real quick.
  • no longer exists in the USA. Relatively simple, practical tasks can no longer get done due to lobbyists and corrupt, inattentive politicians. Nor is this likely to change before the economy and energy shortages force societal simplification, like it or not. Interesting times.

  • $356 million over 10 years is nothing, relatively speaking. Why is slashdot so enamored with headlines that sound like a lot of money but really isn't? For example, I was on a training contract for three years. Five people, $8 million. Five. People.

  • I spent 2 days earlier this week dealing with another DOJ project. Kind of humorous after the fact.
    http://blog.onlymyemail.com/us-department-of-justice-fbi-victim-notification-system/ [onlymyemail.com]

Those who do not understand Unix are condemned to reinvent it, poorly. - Henry Spencer, University of Toronto Unix hack

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