Thursday, October 14, 2010

OpenSky Remains a Failure

Despite Revisionist Claims of Success
UWM Grenade Threat Exposes Shortcomings

Lost in all the continuing revelations of technical system failures and missed implementation dates is the stunning failure of the City of Milwaukee OpenSky radio system to meet it primary objective – to provide an interoperable communications platform for all critical city emergency responders including police, fire, and other key departments. This capability was the impetus behind the federal mandates to upgrade emergency communication and coordination systems in the aftermath of the September 11th disaster.

As early as July of 2003, the City of Milwaukee amended the OpenSky contract to include the Milwaukee Fire Department with final purchase occurring in 2005 under Mayor Tom Barrett (see the Exhibit at Far beyond the recent total system failure of both police and fire radios and the failure to install already purchased and required equipment, the OpenSky system is still not close to accomplishing its primary goal of interdepartmental communication.

“Forget the pie in the sky notion that emergency responders will one day be able to coordinate firefighting and high speed police chases across municipal boundaries,” said Citizens for Responsible Government spokesperson Chris Kliesmet. “City of Milwaukee Firefighters cannot even directly communicate with City of Milwaukee Police across the street. Just the other day we had a situation where City of Milwaukee police officers could not talk with armed and sworn officers of the UW-Milwaukee Police Department over the discovery of a hand grenade. Imagine if this were a crazed gunman on campus. How many dead students would we be talking about today? The OpenSky project is so late, over-budget, and of such poor quality that any accomplishment at all is hailed as a complete victory. This is nothing but pre-election posturing. Basic OpenSky installation and coverage is still incomplete and its functionally no where near delivering what was promised to citizens and City emergency personnel and paid for by taxpayers.”

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