Tenn. Public TV to Create First Statewide Datacasting System for First Responders

MEMPHIS, TENN.--The Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security last week announced the funding of a $2 million pilot project that will allow Tennessee Public Television Stations to provide secure communications between local first responders and their management teams. The funds will go towards the installation of datacasting equipment and software that will allow each Tennessee Public Television station to send out and receive encrypted public safety video, files, alerts and other data along with regular programming.

Stations will begin testing the datacasting systems within six months of receiving the funds and it’s estimated that the entire project will be completed within 30 months. The Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security added that it expects what it calls the nation's "first statewide datacasting system” will be a model for regional and even national deployments in the future.

[Read: PILOT-Ing A New Communications Option For First Responders]

The six stations receiving the funds include: Memphis (WKNO), Martin/Lexington/Jackson (WLJT), Nashville (WNPT), Cookeville (WCTE), Knoxville/Sneedville (East TN PBS) and Chattanooga (WTCI). Using the datacasting and fiber connections already in place within those stations, fire, medical, police and government officials will be able to communicate with one another in targeted emergency or natural disaster areas.

“The partnership between the Tennessee Department of Safety and the Tennessee Public Television Council (TPTC) is ideal because all six public television stations in the state are interconnected, have tall broadcast towers, backup generator power, 24-hour operations, and the spectrum available to make this project a reality,” Michael LaBonia, WKNO President/CEO and Project Director said. “Datacasting technology should enhance existing emergency management systems already in place and become one more step in helping keep people safe in an emergency. We are happy to be able to add this new technology to our existing infrastructure and look forward to working with Safety and Homeland Security in Tennessee.”