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Old 03-19-2013, 8:23 AM
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Default St. Johns County, FL 800 MHz emergency radio system starts Monday

$24.5M cost doesn't count $1.8M in extra.

By PETER GUINTA
peter.guinta@staugustine.com
St. Johns County lawmen, firefighters and administrators who pushed to buy the county’s new 800 MHz emergency communications radio system may be gratified when the system begins its first official day of service at 6 a.m. Monday.


The system initially was estimated to cost $30 million.




County's 800 MHz emergency radio system starts Monday | StAugustine.com
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Old 03-19-2013, 1:53 PM
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Looks like an awful small county to need $24M in radios and 11 tower sites...even for a 800 systems.

How many square miles is this county and is the terrain mountainous?
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Old 03-19-2013, 2:19 PM
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Originally Posted by quarterwave View Post
Looks like an awful small county to need $24M in radios and 11 tower sites...even for a 800 systems.

How many square miles is this county and is the terrain mountainous?
Let me google that for you
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Old 03-19-2013, 3:09 PM
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LOL, I did, it was kind of a rhetorical question.

The county where I live is 700 square miles, about 1/3 rolling and 2/3 very hilly (1,000ft peaks) so there are plenty of hollows and valleys. The funny thing is our county is covered to state spec for all of our state agencies and any county/city agency that wants on it's 800 P25 (over building to P25 IP) with only 3 sites in the whole county....and it works, real well.

I guess I was eluding to whether that density was really needed or is it because they want lots of padding for capacity and expansion in a city environment. Of course it could be good old Motorola over engineering too. It seems many radio vendors have lots of people convinced that somehow system designs that worked 20 years ago magically won't work anymore. Which isnt always true...but it's a great way to sell high end digital radio systems.

BTW - cute link.
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Old 03-19-2013, 3:19 PM
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I lived in St Aug for 21 years I moved 7 months ago cause no work. They wanted to be able to talk to Jax Clay and so on the surrounding counties but Jax is ENC FD/PD I did hear SJCFR may go to ENC down the road


Here has been the updates and stuff

St. John's County P25
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Old 03-19-2013, 5:59 PM
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Fun Facts about St. Johns County

St. Johns County Florida, the entire population is 195,823 (2011)
At a price of $24,500,000 (plus maintenance) this radio system will come at the highest price per capita of any radio system that I have ever seen except Marin County CA. Who would have thought there'd come a day were Miami was actually one of the least corrupt places in the state?

In 2011, each of the 4 districts of the SJSO Assuming, the SJSO answered 134,765 calls for service. That may sound high for a place with only 195,000 residents but a lot of those are for "there's a raccoon rustling through my garbage".

Assuming, they could get their new system to last as long as their last system, 20 years according to the article, and forgetting for a second all the ongoing maintenance costs, and also assuming that they answer the same amount of calls in that same period (~2.7 million),

The new radio system will come at a cost of
$9.27
per call
More than the gas!

What a bargain!

Here's another fun fact!

Assuming the new radio system had zero maintenance and upkeep costs and also assuming that it lasted another 20 years, just like they claimed their last outdated system lasted....


If instead of paying for it all at once,
If the radio system was paid an hourly wage,
it would earn

$142. per hour
(based on a 24/7/365 shift)

If it was a yearly salary, that'd be $1.24 million per year!!!

More than anyone who uses the radio system makes!

Money well spent! Congratulations to St. Johns County!
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Old 03-19-2013, 6:02 PM
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Default Another Florida County Radio System.... FAIL

Quote:
Originally Posted by riccom View Post
$24.5M cost doesn't count $1.8M in extra.

By PETER GUINTA
peter.guinta@staugustine.com
St. Johns County lawmen, firefighters and administrators who pushed to buy the county’s new 800 MHz emergency communications radio system may be gratified when the system begins its first official day of service at 6 a.m. Monday.


The system initially was estimated to cost $30 million.




County's 800 MHz emergency radio system starts Monday | StAugustine.com

::::::::

WOW, 27 Million, and a VHF system that is "OUT OF DATE / END OF LIFE"
That is Motorola statement if I ever heard one for you.

I could have sold a NXDN System and still had wiggle room to play with....
7 current sites, had to ADD 4 MORE to make it "compliant".. really?? Shows you just
how GREAT 800 Trunking is. Oh wait, it's just money.....

ARE THEY SICK IN THE HEAD? Another FAIL in county Gov't.

Should have been on the watch list to bid that one... but they are married
to Motorola.... Must be fun sleeping with a village bicycle.

Just my two cents.
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Old 03-19-2013, 8:00 PM
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They spent all of last year complaining that at a mutual aid fire they weren't able to talk to JAX fire. They
also complained that at the fire all the old radio were desensed. and there were a couple of spots in the county where coverage was poor. I have listened alot to the county and city, and never heard any really bad spots. Eleven new hardened towers should give perfect coverage- But 800 MHZ reality will set in when they
find new holes in the cheese. Traffic on the scanner is always pretty quiet so the cost per call will probably exceed the $9.27 figure.
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Old 03-19-2013, 11:04 PM
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Well played, sir!
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Old 03-20-2013, 1:18 PM
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Is anything being simulcast on the old VHF system or is it completely quiet now?
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Old 03-21-2013, 9:58 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by riccom View Post
$24.5M cost doesn't count $1.8M in extra.

By PETER GUINTA
peter.guinta@staugustine.com
St. Johns County lawmen, firefighters and administrators who pushed to buy the county’s new 800 MHz emergency communications radio system may be gratified when the system begins its first official day of service at 6 a.m. Monday.


The system initially was estimated to cost $30 million.




County's 800 MHz emergency radio system starts Monday | StAugustine.com
You know……….. some are sounding like SJC switching to APCO-Project 25 Digital radio is akin to burning taxpayers dollars where in reality the digital public safety radio systems are pretty much the most up to date and modern two way radio systems in the United States and I would think the citizens of St Augustine and St Johns would want the very best for their public safety personal. The overall radio coverage is excellent and the hardware is very reliable PROVIDED it is well maintained. And I am aware of several jurisdictions with populations of less than 100K that use digital trunked systems so the relative population of SJC should not be an issue. Inter-operability with other jurisdictions (Clay, Duval, the Cites of St Augustine and St Augustine Beach) is the priority and seamless communication is vital. However the adoption of digital public safety communications should not be seen as an opportunity for the total encryption of all public safety communications. Routine service calls for Police and Fire/EMS should remain open simply because the public has a right to be aware of what is “going on” Besides there are many other means to privately communicate by either using encrypted operation channels or by smart phone technology. Encryption adds an extra expense to each radio and is not always reliable. However the real reason in many cases is that the local police chief or Sherriff does not want embarrassing communications monitored by the press or citizens. These embarrassments often are as simple as an officer getting lost in route to a call, an EMS unit taking too long to respond to an emergency or personnel just joking or fooling around. Things like these do happen from time to time but public safety officials would just assume that you are not aware that they happen at all. Of course there are more serious cases such as the BP fire which showed several weaknesses in communication and fire department operations (and a note to the fire chief concerned about mentioning the names of shooting victims, perhaps issuing a memo Not To Give Names of Victims Over the Air may help in that area). Anyway, digital scanners start around $350 so the old $90 Radio Shack Scanners will no longer work monitoring SJC (which may reassure some of the officials who have problems with the public and press listening to police scanners) However please, do not encrypt the Saint John’s County Public Safety Radio System simply because Duval County (Jacksonville) does so to their system and what has that proven anyway? Instead look at the places that do not encrypt, LA and LA County, Chicago, and NYC. PG County MD and Richmond VA. These places are not afraid to let their citizens know what is going on!
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Old 03-22-2013, 9:16 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by brownlab View Post
in reality the digital public safety radio systems are pretty much the most up to date and modern two way radio systems in the United States)))
P25 has been around since 1989. Not exactly cutting edge.

Quote:
Originally Posted by brownlab View Post
((( and I would think the citizens of St Augustine and St Johns would want the very best for their public safety personal.)))
If given the choice, I'm pretty sure being the budget hawks that most of that county is, would not want the government to spend money unnecessarily. Or accept federal dollars and (GASP!) run up the national debt. At the very least, I'm pretty sure they would rather not have county workers furloughed or public safety workers never hired in the first place because they ran up a debt buying toys.


Quote:
Originally Posted by brownlab View Post
(((The overall radio coverage is excellent and the hardware is very reliable PROVIDED it is well maintained.)))
So are analogue systems, by the way.

Quote:
Originally Posted by brownlab View Post
((( And I am aware of several jurisdictions with populations of less than 100K that use digital trunked systems so the relative population of SJC should not be an issue. )))
Well of course the main issue is they spent money don't don't have. They bought more radio system than they need seeing as how St. Augustine a small town in a large county that is mostly marshes, large agricultural tracts, swampland and alligators.

Quote:
Originally Posted by brownlab View Post
(((Inter-operability with other jurisdictions (Clay, Duval, the Cites of St Augustine and St Augustine Beach) is the priority and seamless communication is vital. )))
Well, actually, no. It isn't vital.
And even if it was, they've always had interoperability on VHF mutual aid frequencies. It's not like they're going to be getting rid of those radios.

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Originally Posted by brownlab View Post
(((However the adoption of digital public safety communications should not be seen as an opportunity for the total encryption of all public safety communications. )))
Oh but that's vital.
Encryption keeps us safe from terrorists.


Quote:
Originally Posted by brownlab View Post
(((Routine service calls for Police and Fire/EMS should remain open simply because the public has a right to be aware of what is “going on” Besides there are many other means to privately communicate by either using encrypted operation channels or by smart phone technology. )))
Once you let the genie out of the bottle with these radio systems, you can't put it back in. You want digital, then digital you shall have.
The cops aren't going to go back to using their cell phones now.

Quote:
Originally Posted by brownlab View Post
(((Encryption adds an extra expense to each radio)))
Very little and a lot of times it's being thrown in for free with purchase of a multi-million dollar trunking system as a part of Motorola's annual encrypt-a-thon sales event.

Quote:
Originally Posted by brownlab View Post
((( However the real reason in many cases is that the local police chief or Sherriff does not want embarrassing communications monitored by the press or citizens. These embarrassments often are as simple as an officer getting lost in route to a call, an EMS unit taking too long to respond to an emergency or personnel just joking or fooling around. )))
You made it clear that you think this personnel deserves the "most modern" radio system money can buy and now it sounds like you're saying they're just going to be "fooling around" on it anyway. There's a reason most parents who can afford to, don't buy their 16 year old kids a real fast car with a powerful engine. Because they know once they find out what it can do, it's gonna turn out badly. You can't blame the people who use the encrypted radios anymore than you can blame a kid for wrapping their new corvette around a tree.

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((( However please, do not encrypt the Saint John’s County Public Safety Radio System simply because Duval County (Jacksonville) does so to their system and what has that proven anyway?)))
If you don't want them to encrypt, you should have attended the meetings when they were talking about buying a DTRS.

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Originally Posted by brownlab View Post
((( Instead look at the places that do not encrypt, LA and LA County, Chicago, and NYC. PG County MD and Richmond VA. These places are not afraid to let their citizens know what is going on!)))
You don't seem to understand the difference between the mentality of the Good Ol' Boys in the rural small towns versus the mentality of those in the big cities. Interesting how some of the most heavily populated cities in the country such as LA, which you meantioned and Chicago and NYC which you also mentioned, that they haven't gone to the same kind of radio system that St. Johns County felt was so important to have. St Johns county is surrounded by vast swampland and ocean. LA on the other hand, numerous other jurisdictions to interoperate with and they seem to be doing just fine with what they've got. Best of all, nobody in LA is complaining about not being about to hear police dispatch because it's encrypted. Of course it's also nice when you have a lot more people who care enough and demand accountability and transparency in government and a lot of these small towns just don't have that. Particularly (but not exclusively) in the south.

Last edited by rapidcharger; 03-22-2013 at 9:26 AM.. Reason: tiping wile tokking on the fone makes for bad speling and gramur.
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Old 03-23-2013, 6:22 AM
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I was passing through Saint Auggiesville after the new year turned and their VHF system sounded fine to me. Good audio, good coverage, pretty active for a Wednesday night. I actually ate my fast junk food in a parking lot right in downtown to enjoy the clear, clean audio one last time knowing that this day was coming.
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Old 03-23-2013, 12:51 PM
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Quote:
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P25 has been around since 1989. Not exactly cutting edge.



If given the choice, I'm pretty sure being the budget hawks that most of that county is, would not want the government to spend money unnecessarily. Or accept federal dollars and (GASP!) run up the national debt. At the very least, I'm pretty sure they would rather not have county workers furloughed or public safety workers never hired in the first place because they ran up a debt buying toys.



So are analogue systems, by the way.


Well of course the main issue is they spent money don't don't have. They bought more radio system than they need seeing as how St. Augustine a small town in a large county that is mostly marshes, large agricultural tracts, swampland and alligators.


Well, actually, no. It isn't vital.
And even if it was, they've always had interoperability on VHF mutual aid frequencies. It's not like they're going to be getting rid of those radios.


Oh but that's vital.
Encryption keeps us safe from terrorists.




Once you let the genie out of the bottle with these radio systems, you can't put it back in. You want digital, then digital you shall have.
The cops aren't going to go back to using their cell phones now.


Very little and a lot of times it's being thrown in for free with purchase of a multi-million dollar trunking system as a part of Motorola's annual encrypt-a-thon sales event.



You made it clear that you think this personnel deserves the "most modern" radio system money can buy and now it sounds like you're saying they're just going to be "fooling around" on it anyway. There's a reason most parents who can afford to, don't buy their 16 year old kids a real fast car with a powerful engine. Because they know once they find out what it can do, it's gonna turn out badly. You can't blame the people who use the encrypted radios anymore than you can blame a kid for wrapping their new corvette around a tree.



If you don't want them to encrypt, you should have attended the meetings when they were talking about buying a DTRS.


You don't seem to understand the difference between the mentality of the Good Ol' Boys in the rural small towns versus the mentality of those in the big cities. Interesting how some of the most heavily populated cities in the country such as LA, which you meantioned and Chicago and NYC which you also mentioned, that they haven't gone to the same kind of radio system that St. Johns County felt was so important to have. St Johns county is surrounded by vast swampland and ocean. LA on the other hand, numerous other jurisdictions to interoperate with and they seem to be doing just fine with what they've got. Best of all, nobody in LA is complaining about not being about to hear police dispatch because it's encrypted. Of course it's also nice when you have a lot more people who care enough and demand accountability and transparency in government and a lot of these small towns just don't have that. Particularly (but not exclusively) in the south.
You make some very good and valid points……. however I have spent quite a lot of time in SCJ and I am somewhat familiar with the local politics. I lived there when the population was under 100K and you are right that is was "the county surrounded by vast swampland and ocean". However I also witnessed some of the explosive growth that has taken place since say 1987. And as you know, Saint Johns is no longer a sleepy little beach, tourist, and potato farming county but a populated retirement and bedroom community. With the expansion of the SJC SO, EMS and establishment of a county career fire service, some kind of upgrade of the current VHF system was long overdue and I guess “the last straw” was the BP fire when the FHP was needed to escort Jax Fire Units down SR 16 because they had no clue where they were going (but correct me if I am wrong about that). But the main problem I feel is that it is difficult to just upgrade your older VHF radio system no matter how well it still works. Right or wrong any vendor is going to tell you that you are going to have to go with a digital system because that is the industry standard and the FCC is strongly encouraging it. SJC is no longer a little county (195,000 is about as many people who live in Richmond Virginia) and I can name many a smaller place which has gone digital.

Encryption of Public Safety Systems is just a personal issue and many people disagree with me about it however digital systems are, I am afraid, the future and here to stay.

Thanks for responding to my post
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Old 03-23-2013, 1:20 PM
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The common boiler-plate narrative that appears when Motorola wants to sell a shiny new trunked system to a jurisdiction goes something like: "The dog catcher will be able to talk directly to the police captain, and the water department will be able to talk directly to the fire chief!!!!111!!1!!" Like they even want that in the first place.

They have established chains of command and communications protocols so that those in charge know what is going on. The only interoperability that might get used is for neighboring units of a similar kind, which would be the Jax fire units coming into SJC in the above example.

Even when they have the technical capability to talk to each other they too often don't use it because they don't know or remember how or they don't have permission from the decision-makers. It can be painful to witness, but you get what you pay for (in government).

With encryption, good luck talking to each other when the neighboring jurisdiction changes its encryption key and doesn't tell its neighbors. OOOPS!
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Old 03-23-2013, 4:32 PM
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You make some very good and valid points)))
Thanks! Valid points are my specialty.
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(((……. however I have spent quite a lot of time in SCJ)))
As have I.

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(((was "the county surrounded by vast swampland and ocean". )))
Still kinda is. The satellite photos don't lie.
Just ask the DOD.

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Originally Posted by brownlab View Post
(((However I also witnessed some of the explosive growth that has taken place since say 1987. )))
I do recall a period of rapid growth but I also recall what came after that, which was a period of rapid bust.

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Originally Posted by brownlab View Post
(((And as you know, Saint Johns is no longer a sleepy little beach, tourist, and potato farming county but a populated retirement and bedroom community. )))
I'll meet you halfway. It's a populated, sleepy retirement, beach, tourist and bedroom community.

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Originally Posted by brownlab View Post
((( some kind of upgrade of the current VHF system was long overdue )))
If the system is as old as they say it is then an upgrade is perfectly reasonable. A $30 million dollar upgrade, however, is not.

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Originally Posted by brownlab View Post
((( But the main problem I feel is that it is difficult to just upgrade your older VHF radio system no matter how well it still works. )))
So I keep hearing.

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Originally Posted by brownlab View Post
(((Right or wrong any vendor is going to tell you that you are going to have to go with a digital system because that is the industry standard and the FCC is strongly encouraging it. )))
I have no problem with digital voice technology. In fact I quite like it.

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Originally Posted by brownlab View Post
(((SJC is no longer a little county (195,000 is about as many people who live in Richmond Virginia) and I can name many a smaller place which has gone digital. )))
Whoa. That's not really a fair comparison.
You just compared the population of an entire COUNTY to the population of a SINGLE CITY.
The population of Henrico county is a lot larger than the population of St. Johns and if you consider that it's part of an MSA with a population of 1.3 million people, that's sorta not a fair comparison. I bet if you also compared staffing and number of calls responded to, budget and tax receipts, you'd see a stark contrast between the two also. But regardless, even if they were identical in every way doesn't mean it makes sense. Just because one city wastes a boat load of taxpayers money and gets conned into buying something they don't need doesn't mean that another city should do the same. I could give you scores of examples of counties the same size where they spent a mere fraction of that to upgrade.



Quote:
Originally Posted by brownlab View Post
(((Encryption of Public Safety Systems is just a personal issue and many people disagree with me about it )))
I don't think anyone here disagrees with you. There's only one reason to encrypt and that's if you've got something to hide.

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(((Thanks for responding to my post
The pleasure was all mine.
My reply was in response to your comment that this was somehow akin to burning taxpayers money. And I still maintain that it is.

Last edited by rapidcharger; 03-23-2013 at 4:43 PM..
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Old 03-24-2013, 10:44 AM
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Well as much as I have enjoyed our conversation, I guess it is all a moot point since the system goes on line Monday. However I will be interested on how it all works out so I will follow the posts

Take care..
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Old 03-24-2013, 12:15 PM
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Well as much as I have enjoyed our conversation, I guess it is all a moot point since the system goes on line Monday. However I will be interested on how it all works out so I will follow the posts

Take care..

I have enjoyed the conversation as well. It may be too late for the people of St. Johns County but it doesn't have to be a moot point. This is going on all over the country and people need to know that when the subject of a new digital trunking system shows up on the agenda at their city council meeting or starts making headlines in the hometown paper (sadly sometimes there never is a meeting), that if they are concerned with things like encryption, cost, security and whether its even necessary, they should attend and make their voices heard. They should also make others in their community aware and prompt others to do the same. Democracy is not a spectator sport.

It's been mentioned on here many times before that problems arise when politicians, rather than system users, buy radio systems. The vendors and manufacturers have lots of people lobbying for their cause but the end users and the tax payers and scannerists do not. Seeing as how a lot of what's going on involves shady no-bid contracts and rushed implementation and also seeing as how these systems are a pandora's box for scannerists, this is something we all need to be paying attention to.

The vendors are figuring out that there is no limit to what they can sell. No price tag is too high, not even if the buyer is broke, not even if the buyer doesn't need it, not even if the buyer has furloughed or laid off half of its public safety workforce, not even if the buyer has recently paid millions on another radio system that failed to work as intended.

When nobody cares to show up, nobody cares to make phone calls, nobody bothers to educate others on the problem, then they are going to continue. This is only the beginning. There will come a day we will start seeing small cities paying hundreds of millions for a radio system.
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Old 03-24-2013, 6:53 PM
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What we'll see in the next decade isn't paying millions for a singular infrastructure, it's paying BILLIONS for the nationwide broadband infrastructure and then paying recurring subscriber fees for each subscriber unit that rides on Public Safety Tel. At that point, we'll lose much of the hobby, except for the handful of agencies who value their relationship with the public they serve (and who vote to approve their operating budgets and elect folks like sheriffs) and will provide official webcast feeds of their routine traffic - but we won't be the only losers when this comes to fruition.. The agencies will lose the use of their fully amortized systems $60/mo. for every "radio" they have on the network. So, where you could have had 90 volunteers with portables that were paid for once, they will turn into $5,400/mo., or $64,800/yr. That might be substantially more than some agencies have for their operating budget!

They'll also become dependent on a "them" to maintain a system or act swiftly in their best interests when something takes down a local node or digs up a major trunkline that feeds a large part of the system. The local agencies will never know there's impairment, unless they just stop communicating or passing data.

The subscriber units will be built based on an accelerated life-cycle and opposite to the legacy of the Motrac or MASTR-PRO radios, will probably obsolete themselves every 18 months, either due to hardware or firmware limitations.

"Interesting times."
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Old 03-28-2013, 1:40 PM
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Communications systems certainly can be designed to be survivable, if an entity is willing to pay the price. Multiple sites and communications links cost more than one-off installations, obviously. Redundant links and failure notification systems are well-established and notify responsible parties that there is trouble that needs their immediate attention. This is not new and it is not rocket science.

When they are working such systems run rings around your Motrac with its clodhopper PTT lamp. The dispatcher can see on a map where the guy is lying bleeding to death instead of screaming on the radio asking where he is with no reply. Can your MICOR do that?

Now, whether or not sleazy, lying, cheating politicians will pay up for modern communications systems to "honor those who put their lives on the line" or cheap out in order to pocket the savings remains an ongoing exercise. That's why you gotta keep your eye on THEM. I'm more worried about the politicos messing things up rather than the networks messing things up.
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