Surprisingly Free Conversations, Podcast of Thomas W. Hazlett, Interview by Jerry Brito

Thomas Hazlett discusses telecommunications policy and economics on March 15, 2010. The discussion also turns to the history of spectrum regulation, ongoing inefficiencies in the current system, and suggestions for possible improvements. Hosted by Jerry Brito, senior research fellow at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University and director of its Technology Policy Program, SurprisinglyFree.com is a weekly podcast featuring in-depth discussions with an eclectic mix of authors, academics, and entrepreneurs at the intersection of technology, policy, and economics.

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Wall Street Journal: Failure to Communicate, Jerry Brito

For more than two decades, the nation’s first responders to emergencies have had to contend with radio communications that were not up to the task. Each time a major calamity such as the Oklahoma City bombing, 9/11 or Hurricane Katrina throws a spotlight on the problem, a blue-ribbon panel is convened. And each time the panel invariably offers the same prescription: more funding and more radio spectrum for public safety agencies.  Full article available at wsj.com.  http://online.wsj.com/article/SB117375296121535034-email.html. 

Sending Out an S.O.S.: Public Safety Communications Interoperability as a Collective Action Problem

59 Federal Communications Law Journal 457-92 (2007). Jerry Brito, Senior Research Fellow, Mercatus Center, Federal Communications Law Journal.

On September 11, 2001, officers from the New York City police and fire departments responded to the attacks on the World Trade Center. That morning, police and firefighters entered each of the Twin Towers in an effort to help those inside. Shortly after the South Tower collapsed, an officer in a police helicopter hovering over the scene radioed to his colleagues, “About 15 floors down from the top, it looks like it’s glowing red. It’s inevitable.”1 Then another police pilot reported, “I don’t think this has too much longer to go. I would evacuate all people within the area of that second building.”

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This entry is part 3 of 6 in the series Public Safety Conference 2006

Articles from The Crisis in Public Safety Communications Conference

The Information Economy Project is proud to present articles that have been published in the Federal Communications Law Journal, March 2007 from the Crisis in Public Safety Communications conference held on December 8, 2006:

 

Sending Out an S.O.S.: Public Safety Communications Interoperability as a Collective Action Problem, by Jerry Brito, 59 Federal Communications Law Journal 457-92 (2007), Quick Links: Crisis in Public Safety Communications Conference. Excerpt: On September 11, 2001, officers from the New York City police and fire departments responded to the attacks on the World Trade Center. That morning, police and firefighters entered each of the Twin Towers in an effort to help those inside. Shortly after the South Tower collapsed, an officer in a police helicopter hovering over the scene radioed to his colleagues, “About 15 floors down from the top, it looks like it’s glowing red. It’s inevitable.”1 Then another police pilot reported, “I don’t think this has too much longer to go. I would evacuate all people within the area of that second building.”2

Solving the Interoperability Problem: Are We On the Same Channel? An Essay on the Problems and Prospects for Public Safety Radio, by Gerald R. Faulhaber, 59 Federal Communications Law Journal 493-516 (2007), Quick Links: Crisis in Public Safety Communications Conference, Gerald Faulhaber. Excerpt: Public safety radio communication provides the essential link by which fire, police, emergency medical services (“EMS”), and other emergency personnel respond to life- and property-threatening situations. Communications enables the situational awareness, command, and operational control without which the response of multiple agencies to an emergency is less than useless. Key to this communications capability is interoperability: the capability of first responders from different agencies to communicate during emergencies.

Fundamental Reform in Public Safety Communications Policy, by Jon M. Peha, 59 Federal Communications Law Journal 517-46 (2007), Quick Links: Crisis in Public Safety Communications Conference. Excerpt: All across the country, there have been failures in the communications systems used by first responders, such as firefighters, police, paramedics, and the National Guard. These failures can cost lives in emergencies both large and small. This problem has gained particular attention in the tragic aftermaths of the 9/11 attacks1 and Hurricane Katrina,2 when inadequacies in the current system were particularly obvious, but attention has not yet translated to significant progress.

Communicating During Emergencies: Toward Interoperability and Effective Information Management, by Philip J. Weiser, 59 Federal Communications Law Journal 547-74 (2007), Quick Links: Crisis in Public Safety Communications Conference. Excerpt: The crisis of communications on 9/11 and in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina underscores that emergency responders are largely illequipped to communicate effectively in times of disaster as well as in day-to-day emergency situations that require the coordination of several different public safety agencies. The reason for this state of affairs is that public safety agencies traditionally have made individualized decisions about information and communications technology,1 generally failing to purchase state-of-the-art technology that operates effectively and interoperates with others involved in emergency response.

This entry is part 2 of 6 in the series Public Safety Conference 2006

The Spectrum Commons in Theory and Practice

2007 Stanford Technology Law Review 1 (2007).  Jerry Brito, Senior Research Fellow, Mercatus Center.

The radio spectrum is a scarce resource that has been historically allocated through command-and-control regulation. Today, it is widely accepted that this type of allocation is as inefficient for spectrum as it would be for paper or land. Many commentators and scholars, most famously Ronald Coase, have advocated that a more efficient allocation would be achieved if government sold the rights to the spectrum and allowed a free market in radio property to develop.

A new school of scholars, however, has begun to challenge the spectrum property model. While they agree with Coase that command-and-control spectrum management is highly inefficient, they instead propose to make spectrum a commons. They claim that new spectrum sharing technologies allow a virtually unlimited number of persons to use the same spectrum without causing each other interference and that this eliminates the need for either property rights in, or government control of, spectrum.

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