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Governor Establishes Statewide Interoperable Executive Committee to Enhance Emergency Communications

​CHARLESTON, W.Va. - Governor Earl Ray Tomblin today announced the issuance of executive order 2-11 establishing the Statewide Interoperability Executive Committee (SIEC). The committee will be responsible for overseeing and monitoring the Statewide Interoperable Radio Network (SIRN), a communications network that ensures first responders throughout the state can communicate with one another during emergencies and manmade or natural disasters.

The SIEC will combine functions previously satisfied by two committees originally established in 2008, the Interoperability Steering Committee and the Interoperability Working Group, creating one cohesive governing body for the SIRN. These previous groups have been abolished by the order.

Key stakeholders will have new representation that were previously absent from the SIEC panel including legislators and cyber security professionals. This brings new voices and expertise to the group and also complies with new federal regulations expected to be established in the coming months.

"Public safety is always our top priority," Gov. Tomblin said. "In West Virginia, where the majority of our population resides in rural communities, the ability to communicate quickly and across jurisdictions is crucial because our ability to respond can save lives. I look forward to the advancements the SIEC will make in this area because I believe it will become a model for emergency responders across the nation."

A recent meeting at the White House attended by Vice President Joe Biden, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, Attorney General Eric Holder, FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski and other national, state and local industry leaders has further highlighted the importance of transitioning to wireless broadband networks for public safety.

Jimmy Gianato, West Virginia's Homeland Security Advisor, was in attendance and said, "Interoperable communications has become a real focus in Washington and, thanks to our sound leadership, West Virginia has emerged as a leader in the public safety arena.

"Senator Rockefeller's Public Safety Spectrum and Wireless Innovation Act, if passed, will be a huge step forward for emergency responders," said Gianato, "and the signing of this executive order by Governor Tomblin shows his foresight and commitment to keeping West Virginia at the forefront of public safety.

Jacqueline Proctor, 304-558-2000 Heather Miles, 304-558-5380