The Iowa Statewide Interoperable Communications System (ISICS) is a statewide radio platform that provides microwave-based radio communication to public safety agencies and others, border to border in the State of Iowa, to improve public safety across the state. Law enforcement officers, First Responders and others often need to be able to talk to each other, clearly and immediately, in many significant situations that affect public safety, such as:
- Natural disasters (floods, tornadoes, blizzards, storms)
- Emergencies (active shooter, mass casualty, fires)
- Large events (coordinating crowds, equipment, traffic)
Interoperability allows many different users to talk with each other on a robust system. The national initiative to improve interoperability began after the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, when lives were lost because fire and police officers could not talk with each other during the attack and the immediate aftermath. More lives could have been saved, if First Responders had been able to talk with each other.
The result of that catastrophic failure was a nationwide focus on interoperability, which brings many agencies and individuals together on a single system. They can run their own operations on separate channels, but during significant events, they are able to communicate on joint channels.
Iowa began its journey toward interoperability with legislation enacted in 2007. The Iowa Statewide Interoperable Communications System (ISICS) Board was established in that legislation, within the Department of Public Safety and with shared responsibility by the Department of Transportation.
The ISICS Board includes representatives of First Responders from across the state and from across the spectrum of potential users. The Board has developed policies for the coordinated use of the statewide network, and has overseen the development of the statewide system.
The ISICS radio system, designed by Motorola Solutions, began construction in 2016.