Northwest Iowa — That 9-1-1 surcharge we all pay each month on our landline and cell phone bill will soon be used to pay the first year’s lease on a new statewide emergency communications system.
Governor Terry Branstad has signed a bill into law that launches the effort to build a new statewide radio communications system for every law enforcement and emergency response unit in the state.
Emergency responders in New York City found they could not communicate effectively when terrorists struck the World Trade Center nearly 15 years ago. States around the country began building new radio systems so all emergency responders could communicate with one another. Iowa is among the last states to act. Branstad signed the bill into law Wednesday morning in Adel, since Dallas County will be the first to connect to the new system.
Iowa Public Safety Commissioner Roxann Ryan says the system will let first responders talk to one another during disasters and big events, like the Iowa-Iowa State football game.
The state of Iowa is providing a “baseline” radio network. Cities and counties would have to pay extra for add-ons that improve radio communications in basements and hallways.
The communications hub for four Des Moines suburbs will be the first city system to join the new network and Branstad expects other central Iowa agencies will be among the first to join.
The project’s total cost is estimated to be $58-million. The state will pay a yearly lease that costs nearly $4.4 million. The lease money in the first year will come from an emergency 9-1-1 charge Iowans pay on their land lines and cell phones.