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Iowa Department of Public Safety
215 East 7th Street
Des Moines, Iowa 50319

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For immediate release:  

August 13, 2018


Demonstration of Statewide Interoperability Radio System

-- This morning, Governor Kim Reynolds demonstrated the statewide interoperable communications radio network at the Iowa State Fair.

The demonstration was conducted at 9:30 a.m., in front of the Hall of Law.  Governor Reynolds demonstrated how the statewide system can be used to communicate with many different organizations.  She personally made radio contact with:

            (1) Harrison County Communication Center (Logan, IA)
            (2) Iowa Department of Public Safety’s State Radio Center (Cedar Rapids, IA)
            (3) Boone County Emergency Management (Boone, IA)
            (4) Iowa National Guard at Joint Forces Headquarters (Johnston, IA)
            (5) Dallas Center Middle School (Dallas Center, IA)
            (6) Unity Point Hospital (Des Moines, IA)

A video of the event appears online at:

Governor Reynolds acknowledged those in attendance, which included local and state law enforcement officers, dispatchers, fire service, EMS, emergency managers, and personnel from the Department of Public Safety and Department of Transportation who have helped to bring the system online.

“This new radio system is essential for all of our First Responders – law enforcement, fire, EMS – and even our schools and hospitals can access the interoperable systems,” said Governor Reynolds. “Our communities have worked together to make this happen, and they will continue to work together to maintain Iowa as a safe place for everyone.”

State Public Safety Commissioner Roxann Ryan also addressed the value of interoperability in emergencies.  “When disaster strikes during an event, our law enforcement officers and other First Responders need to have a radio system they can rely on.  They need to talk with each other, to make sure that ambulances know where to go, to manage crowds and traffic that has turned to chaos, and to be sure that every life that can be saved, will be saved.”

Iowa State Patrol Chief Jeff Ritzman said that the value of the new radio system is better public safety.  “We have officers in every corner of the state, including the beautiful hills and valleys all over Iowa.  In the bluffs of northeast Iowa and the Loess Hills of southwest Iowa, and everything in between, we need to have a good, strong radio system to talk with each other.”

Background on the Statewide Interoperable Communications System

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.  The entire system should be online by late fall 2018.  Local agencies are joining the statewide system each month, as it is being built, and they can continue to join the system after it is fully built.

This map shows the radio tower sites that are part of the statewide system:

Interop Map

To date, the new radio system includes more than 90 tower sites, making the most use of state-owned towers as possible, along with new towers and infrastructure to provide maximum coverage of the state. The statewide system also includes tower sites that local entities have added to improve their own coverage, which also benefits the entire statewide interoperability system. 

When it is completed, the radio system will be the largest public safety radio system in the state, serving 3.6 million Iowans by providing complete interoperability to our public safety and first responder communities in Iowa, with an estimated 26,000 future users.

More complete information about the system, including maps, is online at

For more information about interoperability, visit the ISICS website:


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