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VIPER and FirstNet are Vital for Public Safety Interoperability, but VIPER Requires Upgrades (April 2018)

Summary

North Carolina’s Voice Interoperability Plan for Emergency Responders (VIPER) and FirstNet technologies share the common purpose of improving interoperability for public safety first responders, but the Program Evaluation Division found the two systems complement rather than duplicate functionality. Each system possesses important capabilities for first responders that the other system does not offer. In addition, the VIPER system is supported by equipment purchases and in-kind contributions from local agencies and PED found that charging user fees could reduce participation in the network and diminish statewide interoperability. Furthermore, approximately 70% of VIPER’s 220 sites contain infrastructure or equipment from non-state entities, and these partnerships are crucial to VIPER’s success. PED found that failure to upgrade VIPER’s base stations and related software will adversely affect VIPER’s continued reliability and interoperability. The General Assembly should direct the Department of Public Safety to increase its VIPER outreach programs and determine the value of in-kind contributions. The General Assembly should also consider appropriating funds to upgrade VIPER base stations and establish routine software updates.

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PED Contact:

Program Evaluation Division, North Carolina General Assembly
Legislative Office Building, Suite 100
300 North Salisbury Street , Raleigh, NC 27603-5925
919-301-1404