MIAMI (CBS4) – In cases of emergencies, like when hurricanes hit South Florida, communication between police, fire rescue personnel and other first responders is crucial.

A new communication system called ‘Unity Radio’ is being tested out in South Florida, one of only four locations in the country taking part in this pilot program.

Under the program, first responders are equipped with a special radios equipped with GPS, the ability to send text messages and can operate on a number of different frequencies.

Federal and local law enforcement officials believe that the ‘Unity Radio’ system will transform the way first responders communicate with each other during an emergency.

“This is the first time that such a diverse group of users will be able to talk with each other on a single radio platform,” said Felix Perea, director of Miami-Dade’s radio division.

The region is participating in the pilot program through the Department of Homeland Security. The Unity XG-100 radio has the latest in radio band technology and will allow police officers, firefighters and other first responders to communicate with each other across jurisdictions and regardless of radio bands.

“The concept behind regional domestic security is to get all the agencies to work together. But you can’t do that unless you can talk to each other seamlessly,” said Palm Beach Sheriff Rick Bradshaw.

The pilot program began in June and will wrap up in August.

“Whether it’s a hurricane or a terrorist situation, you have to be able to communicate with all the different factors, whether it’s local, federal or state. The Coast Guard has to talk to the sheriff, and the sheriff has to talk to the locals” said Bradshaw. “It’s all about communication.”

South Florida emergency officials said it will take about 1,500 radios, at about $6,000 apiece, to equip our area.

So far it has not been said exactly who will be getting the radios and who will be paying for them.


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