Binghamton University receives radio equipment that aids in disaster management
The Binghamton University Police Department has received specialized radio equipment valued at $52,000 through a federal program. The Radio Inter-Operability System, or RIOS, allows first responders from several agencies to communicate during an emergency, even if they usually use different radio bands.
David Hubeny, special services coordinator for University Police, applied for the equipment through the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Commercial Equipment Direct Assistance Program.
No other agency in the region has such a device, and Hubeny expects it will be put to use by off-campus agencies as well as by University Police. “Part of the grant is that we will make this available to the community,” said Hubeny, who will work closely with Broome County Emergency Services.
The importance of such equipment became clear during the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks when police and fire agencies in New York City were unable to communicate with each other.
Locally, University Police, Harpur’s Ferry and Environmental Health and Safety use UHF, while many area ambulance services and fire agencies use VHF. That means University Police can’t use their hand-held radios to communicate directly with area fire departments in an emergency, for example. They rely on two different dispatch centers to exchange information.
Hubeny expects the RIOS will be used during concerts on campus as well as during large events such as the Empire State Games. Off-campus agencies might call on it in case of a crisis.
The device will also become an integral part of the University’s annual large-scale emergency drill coordinated by University Police. Personnel from University Police, the Environmental Health and Safety office, and the University emergency response team have already learned how to use the equipment.
The RIOS consists of a laptop computer with a user-friendly graphical interface and a box the size of a large briefcase into which devices such as hand-held radios can be plugged in. The system is heavy, though portable, and can be set up quickly. It’s also able to function as a dispatcher station.