MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - The Alabama Chiefs of Police Conference began Monday in Montgomery and a big topic of discussion will be innovative ways to improve communication.
Over 100 public safety departments in Alabama are using an app called Tango Tango, and it’s becoming a cheaper and easier way to exchange emergency information between law enforcement officials and first responders.
The app allows law enforcement to connect any smartphone device to any radio channel, improving coverage area and clarity.
“Some of our VHF radios are relatively weak in some of the areas but we have a good, strong cell signal and so because this does operate over the cell system, it’s an app that goes through those phones," said Autauga County Emergency Management Agency Director Ernie Baggett. "We actually have a lot better coverage now than we ever have had with the radios.”
Zach Tannett is the director of sales for Tango Tango and he says the idea for the app came after the difficulty first responders had during 9/11.
“First responders in New York City could not talk to one another because they were on different radio systems and that created a huge problem so there was a big push thereafter to make what people call interoperability a real thing,” said Tannett.
Chilton County and Autauga County used to struggle to communicate over the radio, but Baggett says with this technology they are able to communicate better, and faster.
“This Tango Tango is kind of like that translator," Baggett said. "It makes it to where everyone can talk together.”
The app isn’t, however, expected to replace radios completely anytime soon.
“We believe that at some point, probably within 10 to 15 years, there will be a shift that LTE based services will take over from what’s called LMR, the land mobile radio, the traditional system that is in place now, but not until they have a more robust and dependable system,” Tannett said.
Tango Tango has been around for about three years and is currently being used in over 40 states. The app can only be downloaded with special permission from the company.