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Motorola emergency network unveiled

South Carolina Gov. Jim Hodges displays the Palmetto 800 Network, designed to improve multiple agencies' ability to coordinate assistance in emergencies.

South Carolina Gov. Jim Hodges on Thursday showed off what he called one of the most advanced public safety communications networks in the nation.

The new Palmetto 800 Network from Motorola provides interoperability among state, local and federal public safety agencies. It was designed to improve multiple agencies' ability to coordinate assistance in emergencies.

The ability to access public networks has become critical in light of tightening security concerns, Motorola officials said.

"After Sept. 11, there was a greater awareness for the need for interoperability," Motorola spokesman Steve Gorecki said.

Motorola said Michigan, Minnesota and Indiana are close behind South Carolina in implementing the Palmetto 800 Network.

Gov. Hodges touted the new statewide communications network in a ceremony in Columbia, saying the state recently completed an access agreement that lets the FBI access the network, providing a connection to local and state safety agencies, utility companies and healthcare providers.

The state has also received accolades from the Public Safety Wireless Network, which recognized South Carolina as one of the few states to have implemented such interoperability.

The Palmetto Network is monitored around the clock and supports 10,000 portable radios in the state. Its two-way radio communications software includes encrypted security, computer-aided dispatch and 911 systems, fingerprinting and photo-imaging systems, as well as remote management capabilities.

Work on the network began in 1989 when Motorola teamed up with South Carolina officials following Hurricane Hugo.