States to test emergency info sharing

U.S. Department of Transportation

The Transportation Department is testing a pair of systems to improve electronic communication among public safety and state transportation agencies.

Working with state governments in Utah and Washington, Transportation will carry out two-year tests of Intelligent Transportation Systems for emergency services. Government officials hope shared information and linked communications for police, fire fighters and transportation agencies will speed up the dispatch of emergency response vehicles, clear vehicle crashes faster and make accident scenes safer.

In Salt Lake City, the $1.25 million project — federal funding provides 80 percent of that — will link transportation management systems of the Utah Transportation Department and computer-aided dispatch systems of the state's Department of Public Safety.

The program will use automated vehicle location and digital mapping functions to identify incidents.

Although the state departments have been working together for years, the federal grant lets them expand their abilities and share the results with the rest of the country, said John Njord, executive director of the Utah transportation agency.

A smaller federal grant to Washington — 64 percent of a $462,194 program — will help pay for its effort to tie the Washington State Patrol's dispatch system into the state transportation department's Internet-based system for sharing information on accidents, weather conditions, traffic and other road situations.

Officials expect to complete the Utah and Washington projects in 2005.

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