On November 16, Norway and Sweden joined their emergency networks in a historic collaboration effort, which was immediately praised as a peerless instance of cooperation and lauded as a milestone by Scandinavian officials.
The aim of interconnecting Sweden's Rakel network with Norway's Nødnett is to boost collaboration between police, paramedics, rescue services and contingency agencies in case of accidents or natural calamities in border areas, such as forest fires. It is the first time that national emergency networks have been connected internationally, the Norwegian government reported. To mark the occasion, a joint cross-border exercise was held in Meråker, Norway, where emergency communication was tested in a realistic scenario, with ministers from both sides of the border cutting the symbolic ribbon.
"Threats, accidents and natural disasters are not related to state borders and you need tools adapted to this. The joining of the two emergency networks is important for our common ability to manage crises on both sides of the border," Norwegian Justice and Emergency Minister Anders Anundsen said, as quoted by Norwegian newspaper Nettavisen.
Sweden' Interior Minister Anders Ygeman stated that police, rescue services and fire brigades will be better table to cooperate on the shared network. Police Commissioner Reine Lamkiewicz expressed hope that increased cooperation would make drug raids and investigations more efficient. Previously, staff had to rely on mobile phones to contact colleagues on the other side of the border. A joint communication center is therefore a welcome alternative.
"Sometimes it can virtually take forever because the communication occurs in several stages," Niclas von Essen, the head of the technology department at Jämtland County Rescue Association, said, as quoted by Swedish newspaper Helsinborgs Dagblad.
Norway and Sweden share Scandinavia's longest border of 1,630 kilometers. The two Nordic countries, which for almost a century were parts of the United Kingdoms of Sweden and Norway between 1814 and 1905, have a long tradition of cross-border cooperation.
The Swedish emergency service Rakel is used by approximately 500 organizations in Sweden, including police, Customs Service, the Armed Forces, Coast Guard, Maritime Administration, the Swedish Radiation Safety and Traffic Authority. Its Norwegian counterpart Nødnett is used by emergency services, police, and NGOs such as Red Cross.
Efforts to connect the two national emergency networks are parts of the partnership between the Norwegian Directorate for Emergency Communication (DNK) and the Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency (MSB) that is implemented within the framework of the EU-supported ISITEP program.
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