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Old 07-18-2012, 7:34 PM
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Default Oakland singing the blues about new P25 system.

Oakland public safety radio system not working - AP State Wire News - The Sacramento Bee

Pay attention to the last sentence which mentions joining a regional radio collaborative. Sounds like Oakland is rethinking the decision to stay off EBRCS...

No problem, though, since Oakland has plenty of money to rework their radio system...again.
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Old 07-18-2012, 7:39 PM
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oh that would be awesome if they joined EBRCS.
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Old 07-19-2012, 6:37 AM
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Another good article from the Oakland Tribune:

Oakland public safety radio system still failing - Inside Bay Area
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Old 07-20-2012, 12:24 AM
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Wouldn't we be back at the same place as far as scanner listeners with the Multipath issue? EBRCS vs Oakland P25? IF they did join EBRCS would they just have to integrate Oakland's existing transmitter sites or would they have to build new ones?
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Old 07-20-2012, 2:50 AM
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Originally Posted by Ben96cal View Post
Wouldn't we be back at the same place as far as scanner listeners with the Multipath issue? EBRCS vs Oakland P25? IF they did join EBRCS would they just have to integrate Oakland's existing transmitter sites or would they have to build new ones?
Yes, I believe both systems use CQPSK and scanners will have the same issues. The EBRCS is already designed to cover Oakland, so no new sites are needed. The problem is that Oakland will be reluctant to abandon their radio system since they have already poured $18 million into it. However, most of that cost was subscriber radios that can be reprogrammed to work with EBRCS.

I find it ironic that one of the main drivers for interoperability in the bay area was the Oakland Hills Fire, and now 20 years later we're building a regional communications system that includes every city in the east bay EXCEPT Oakland. They should have just joined EBRCS in the first place...
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Old 07-20-2012, 10:23 AM
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Yes, the city of Oakland should have joined EBRCS. But the dysfunctional city government and the misguided last and current mayor have no clue.
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Old 07-20-2012, 10:43 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mlangeveld View Post
I find it ironic that one of the main drivers for interoperability in the bay area was the Oakland Hills Fire, and now 20 years later we're building a regional communications system that includes every city in the east bay EXCEPT Oakland. They should have just joined EBRCS in the first place...
Don't forget about tiny Piedmont
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Old 07-20-2012, 2:06 PM
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Don't forget about tiny Piedmont
I consider them linked since they're on the same radio system. But you're right
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Old 07-20-2012, 3:39 PM
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Wouldn't a basic, analog non-trunking system, be more reliable, and avoid all the nonsense Oakland has been going through?
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Old 07-20-2012, 4:38 PM
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Originally Posted by rooivalk View Post
Wouldn't a basic, analog non-trunking system, be more reliable, and avoid all the nonsense Oakland has been going through?
The problem is they don't have the frequencies for that. Their existing 800 MHz frequencies are required to be trunked, and the only band with new frequencies available is 700 MHz (which requires digital trunking). They should have just hired a vendor who knew what they were doing, or joined EBRCS instead of going a separate route and building their own P25 system.
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Old 07-20-2012, 6:46 PM
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I am kinda with Oakland on wanting to run their own system vice get lost as a stakeholder in a new untested JPA or worse yet let the county run you on their timeline.

My guess is Oakland did not want to put up with the attitudes, astronomical costs, and non-mission focused politics surrounding EBRCS- in addition to the loss of all say in their system.

The loss of control of your own system is a big deal in a target rich environment place like Oakland.

Rolling the timemachine back, Oakland PD/Fire should have stayed on conventional VHF and the rest of ALCO should have stayed on conventional t-band.

Where they are now is no better than where they were 15 years ago.

Interoperability has not benefited, the system users have not benefited and the citizenry has definitely not benefited.

Quick review public safety trunking in the bay area:
ALCO TRS: So oversold they gave free years away to certain cities to keep them quiet and from jumping ship back to conventional when they still could.
MERA: LTR? Really?
SMCO: Call Redwood City and ask.
BART: Good luck on expansion- you had AAR channels hello?
Richmond: More EDACS in the dumpster.
CCSF: And what was wrong with Conventional UHF?

Trunking is a system managers dream and a users nightmare. In my view, the sole goal in trunking is efficient use of spectrum. If you are trunking tow trucks and janitors then thats admirable.I would rather have the cop have a radio that works when he is getting his a$$ handed to him on the street- not like that has ever happened in Oakland.

Oakland has big problems but I cannot blame them for wanting to maintain their autonomy. Hope they find a workable solution in the short term.

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Last edited by commstar; 07-20-2012 at 6:48 PM.. Reason: A B in Junior College English 300 years ago.
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Old 07-20-2012, 9:08 PM
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I am kinda with Oakland on wanting to run their own system vice get lost as a stakeholder in a new untested JPA or worse yet let the county run you on their timeline.
I dunno... I see what you're saying, but you're argument kind of falls apart right here.

First, EBRCS is quite thoroughly tested, as evidenced by the year or more radio techs have been running around the East Bay area testing the system. From an anecdotal perspective, the coverage is vastly improved and well tested.

Secondly, the two counties involved (not one!) have spent years planning and coordination. The effort has been publicly documented.

Finally...

Quote:
The loss of control of your own system is a big deal in a target rich environment place like Oakland.
Richmond, California is as bad (or worse) than Oakland. If you lived in the Bay Area, you would know that. Richmond is enjoying wonderful success on EBRCS (the former EDACS system wasn't bad, but had its share of problems).

The major driver behind going P25 is interoperability. For Oakland to forgo that in favor of "putting up with attitudes and astronomical costs" just doesn't reconcile with what makes sense: participating in a well-funded, well-researched, and well-tested regional interop communication system.
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Old 07-20-2012, 9:18 PM
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Originally Posted by commstar View Post
Quick review public safety trunking in the bay area:
ALCO TRS: So oversold they gave free years away to certain cities to keep them quiet and from jumping ship back to conventional when they still could.
MERA: LTR? Really?
SMCO: Call Redwood City and ask.
BART: Good luck on expansion- you had AAR channels hello?
Richmond: More EDACS in the dumpster.
CCSF: And what was wrong with Conventional UHF?
Trunked systems can be very beneficial to public safety users, if they are well-designed and managed.

MERA (which is not an LTR system as you stated) was a huge improvement over our previous low-band systems here in Marin County. The low-band systems had significant in-building coverage issues. The dispatchers would have to call 7-11 to reach a police officer inside. A firefighter would have to stay in the engine when they went to Safeway and make sure they didn't miss a call.

The new trunked system gives all users the ability to communicate with any other user, anywhere in the county with crystal clear audio. A battalion chief in San Rafael can monitor a vegetation fire unfolding in Point Reyes, or a deputy in Mill Valley can listen to the tactical traffic for a manhunt in Novato while he responds to the incident. There are still some coverage issues, but overall the system works well.

As for San Mateo's trunked system, it was a great idea which was poorly implemented. Their system had major problems at the beginning which have since been resolved. Unfortunately, Redwood City bailed out before these issues were fixed, and they have little incentive to rejoin the system since none of the other police departments joined the system in the first place. The system works fine for the sheriff's office.

It also seems like Redwood City had trouble adjusting to the new system. Their complaints included audio distortion (digital sounds different than analog), the inability to "step" on another person's transmission (which most would consider a good thing), and having to wait for the talk permit tone (a split second delay in most cases). Most of these problems can be addressed with better user training.

I don't want to turn this into another conventional vs. trunked debate, so let's just agree that each system has its advantages and disadvantages, and no system is perfect.
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Old 07-20-2012, 11:46 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rooivalk View Post
Wouldn't a basic, analog non-trunking system, be more reliable, and avoid all the nonsense Oakland has been going through?
Ahhh the good old days of 156.090
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Old 07-21-2012, 3:43 PM
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One thing is clear in ALL OF THIS is that system users in the bay area are not well trained. One of the first things that should be taught when implementing a new system is A) It's not perfect, and it won't be for at least a year. B) Be Patient. Once the kinks are worked out, it'll work just as well as your previous system, after all, it took x number of years for all the kinks to be worked out with that system.
C) you have an MDT and a cell phone. if your system takes a dump, use it. Agencies used phones before radios were installed on vehicles. Yes, it's not ideal... but that's why it's standard issue. it's a backup.

Up here in Sacramento, we have a 2 site 800mhz hybrid system. When it launched, there were issues. BOY WERE THERE ISSUES, but after about 3 years of tweaks and filling in the coverage holes, the system is near flawless.

Agencies that pull-out of a regional system within a year or two of it's inception are ignorant and wasting money. You have to climb the mountain to get to the top.
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Old 07-23-2012, 1:33 PM
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Just have a second to respond here so please do not take my brevity as agreement. This is one of my favorite topics and I do not agree with many of your points

Ok, I do not doubt that EBRCS has good coverage, but I said untested JPA, not radio system. It is easy for a voice to get lost in new a Joint Power Authority especially with all the political games that are played behind the scenes on the rubber chicken circuit. I am sure the coverage is great but JPA's often turn out to be political gardens.

I stand corrected on MERA. Please retract, delete MERA and insert San Rafael. LTR really?

I bet you are right about Richmond compared to EDACS i am sure they are happy. Sounded like they were about out of options. The RPD EDACS was pushed and sold in West COCO as MANDATORY due to re-farming back in the late 80's. The word was everyone was going to get shut off if they did not go to 800hmz. I was there for the rumors.

Anyway, I was born and raised in the East Bay and have spent more time at 7th & Penn/North Richmond, on the Oakland flatlands and other bay area garden spots than I care to even think about.

That said, I have also been that guy getting his *** handed to back to him in the middle of the street while all the sales reps, radio techs and the newly promoted Captain all told me how the system worked while I got to experience it first hand. Please read my sig at this point. Anyway, I offer this as nothing more than to qualify myself with non-hypothetical experience. I do know how it all works and I would much rather put my bacon on the line with a decent conventional system than anything that even has the word failsoft in its repair manual.

Cities that pull out of radio systems that do not work are not ignorant. Some things are far more important than money. The lives that depend on these most critical systems such as cops and firemen. Please do not try to assert that trunking supports interoperability in some way.

P25 is a standard this is true, Unfortunately,the moment you add trunking. OTAR or just about any option not in the P25 standard, it becomes proprietary- that is a big interoperability problem. In addition, the trunked cop of FF in the field cannot scan or monitor another system or even a single conventional channel besides the trunked system he is bound to.Try scanning CLEMARS (sorry old skool) or VTAC30489 or Fire White with your radio active on a trunked system.

As for SMCO's system, we must talk to different people. Within the past few months I had candid conversation with a current employee- who used the old system alot, so they have know the system well. Lets just leave it at that, but if you think the troops love it, then you should find some folks who will be candid . We are talking performance points not P25 sounds different than analog.

Like I said, the radio systems are so expensive that the exercise becomes about politics at a certain point, promises are made, deals executed that have nothing to do with the system itself but careers, elected office, and even getting the mortgage paid. The user and the taxpayer both lose.

I am retired and have my civil rights back, so I will advocate (and do) for the bluesuiters;

Conventional is superior for public safety in nearly all instances. If you strongly disagree with this statement, there is a likelyhood you are a radio tech, system manager, sales rep or someone else who has profited along the line.

LMR is not perfect and never will be. Managing user expectations is a critical skill, I agree. Radio is light, you can make it simple and illuminate what you need to see, or put up a disco ball that looks fun and spins in place for effect, but really does not illuminate much of anything in any meaningful way. TRS' are disco balls in the public safety world.

Training, yeah, that is always a good place start the blame. A lot of LE training consists of 'it will work just like the old system, it is not working now but when it does it will be the same. This is the new radio, but the battery is dead for it, sorry. but it will work the same. Training is not the complete answer.

When it comes to a new TRS' I think it would be far wiser to put animal control, mosquito abatement and county roads on the system for a few months and work out the bugs before you put your critical resources on it. Hey, it works for Microsoft so why not the beat cop.

The contractor, shotcallers and the guy who got promoted supervising the rollout of the new system, are all in a big rush to get everyone on the new toy and pull the conventional stuff out of the racks. Have you ever wondered why? I would say to you that if you actually tested with AC/Roads/Mosquito abatement, then LE/FD would hear of the problems and would insist that the issues be resolved before they committed. Dumpsterizing their old system tends to prevent a retreat attempt. I say kudos to RCPD for pulling out and maintaining a retreat path.

Bringing this full circle, I do not blame OPD for trying to stay autonomous, they likely felt like they knew their old EDACS, a new system would not be that much different, and the spectre of a new, untested JPA (not radio system) was just was not attractive.

Best,
Mike
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Old 07-25-2012, 12:39 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by commstar View Post
P25 is a standard this is true, Unfortunately,the moment you add trunking. OTAR or just about any option not in the P25 standard, it becomes proprietary- that is a big interoperability problem. In addition, the trunked cop of FF in the field cannot scan or monitor another system or even a single conventional channel besides the trunked system he is bound to.Try scanning CLEMARS (sorry old skool) or VTAC30489 or Fire White with your radio active on a trunked system.
That's why in a REGIONAL communications system, participation of all agencies is key. If every city is on the same RCS, you don't need to worry about scanning between systems. When cities start dropping out and going their own route (like Oakland), the whole point of the RCS goes out the window.

Conventional systems work great for small municipalities, but for larger counties with complex coverage needs, the advantages of a trunked multi-site communications network are invaluable. The San Diego - Imperial County trunked system is an excellent example of a well-managed RCS.
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Old 07-25-2012, 8:13 AM
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mlangeveld said - "The new trunked system gives all users the ability to communicate with any other user, anywhere in the county with crystal clear audio". And then mlangeveld said in the same paragraph "There are still some coverage issues"

I worked in a motorcycle shop a long time ago. One of the salesmen was grousing that he had "umlimited earning potential". It was funny then, and its still funny now. (Kinda like unlimited radio coverage)

Bottom line - when a single paragraph changes from hypothetical to non hypothetical, watch out.
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Old 07-25-2012, 9:41 AM
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Actually the way i see it is Police and Fire do not know much about Radio Systems so they agree with a minimul system that costs less. That system is tested at City borders and it receives so it must work? No one ever tries to test the new radio system in Basements or High rises or Malls etc. In San Jose we told Motorola we want a system that works when someone falls face down into the sewer system and can call for help. Our minimum is 95% coverage anywhere San Jose responds. That "System" will be very expensive so I do not see Santa Clara County switching for years to come unless the Feds come up with $250 Mil grant to start the process. And we will keep our "Conventional VHF and UHF" system as a back up and for training purposes. 700 MHz. systems are growing now but are too cost restrictive for City's to build out. The above post was correct as in SJ we will put the dog catchers on this "new System" for a year and work out the bugs before any public safety joins 700 MHz. Just my 2 cents worth.
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Old 07-25-2012, 12:21 PM
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There was another article on sfgate.com and probably in the print edition of the SF Chronicle:
Oakland: Dead zones plague police radios - SFGate.

I agree the new digital system Oakland implemented is hard for our scanners to pick up. I have also listened to a department issued radio as well. While it definitely sounded better, I have no doubt it has issues.

Regional systems, while great for interoperability for users on the system, it does nothing for mutual aid purposes. Let's take a current situation I hear played out many times in unincorporated San Leandro, which is where I live. A pursuit ends in the San Lorenzo area, so CHP is already on scene. Of course, Alameda County Sheriff also responds. However, they can't talk to each other. What they do now is CHP will contact their dispatch to call sheriff dispatch to tell the responding units of the current situation. And this goes on several times. Why don't they use CLEMARS? I think it would make sense to patch CLEMARS onto to the trunked system so they can talk to each other.

Also, once a regional system has issues, all users are affected. While listening to the sheriff yesterday, they county system was having problems. I checked with fire and they also said the same thing. So with the current system, that could leave Alameda PD, County Sheriff & Fire, Fremont PD, Newark PD, Union City PD and San Leandro PD without a working radio, should it fail. A few years ago, I have heard the entire system go down when the power went out. It immediately went into Failsoft mode but users were still confused and used cell phones instead. So while it has it's pros, it has it's cons as well.
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