State and Local Briefs

DHS: $150 million for first responders; USDA: $44 million for broadband

DHS: $150M for first responders

From Boston to Clallam County, Wash., 31 communities were awarded nearly $150 million in federal funds last week to help them develop demonstration programs of interoperable communication systems for first responders.

Agencies under the Homeland Security and Justice departments jointly administered the Interoperable Communications Technology Grant program.

DHS' Federal Emergency Management Agency will distribute nearly $80 million to 17 communities, while Justice's Office of Community Oriented Policing Services awarded $66.5 million to another 14 municipalities.

The maximum federal contribution for each award is $6 million; local communities contribute a 25 percent match. Funds will pay for communications equipment, enhancements to the communications infrastructure and project management expenses. Peer review panels evaluated proposals.

USDA: $44M for broadband

The Agriculture Department late last month announced nearly $44 million in grants to develop broadband Internet access, telemedicine services and distance-learning opportunities in rural areas.

About $23.5 million will go to 57 distance-education projects, $11.3 million will help 34 communities get high-speed Internet access and $8.9 million will fund 27 telemedicine projects. The education projects will enable 556 schools to provide students with better tools. About 190 medical service facilities will improve their services.

Under the broadband awards, communities in 20 states were selected based on their lack of high-speed access for police and fire services, hospitals, libraries, and schools. In return for the grants, communities will provide residents with computer and Internet access.

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