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Wayne chooses M/A Com for new radio system

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#1
Wayne getting high-tech emergency radio system
Saturday, May 31, 2008
BY ANDREA ALEXANDERSTAFF WRITER
The Bergen Record

WAYNE — A devastating flood and smoke bombs planted in a high school locker have shown the township that it can't rely on its current emergency communications system.

Before the next catastrophe hits, the officials decided to invest in a new $9.1 million digital radio system. As such, the township is joining the ranks of several other agencies around the region, including Bergen and Passaic County authorities, in projects to modernize communications.

The Township Council recently voted to award a contract to M\A Com, a part of Tyco Electronics, for a new digital communications system. The system is supposed to provide greater coverage and allow different public-safety units to communicate with one another in the 27-square-mile township of 55,000 people.

Meanwhile, Bergen County has entered into a contract with Motorola to design and build a digital system. The Bergen County Sheriff's Department and Prosecutor's Office will use the new system, and municipal governments also can subscribe to the service, said Mabel Aragon, a county spokeswoman. Bergen County's new system is expected to cost $16 million to $18 million and be completed by next year.

Problems with Wayne's system have grown more apparent over time. During a major flood in April 2007, police couldn't contact officers in rescue boats to direct them in evacuations. And last year when five Wayne Valley High School students allegedly planted two smoke bombs in lockers, Deputy Police Chief John Reardon said he couldn't communicate with the officers first on the scene — before they knew what they were facing.

"I had to go inside the school and find them,'' Reardon said. "In times of greatest need, when things get busy it's inadequate.''

The existing analog system sometimes sounds garbled or doesn't work at all. The system also has capacity problems, and first responders sometimes have to wait to get airtime, said Lt. Wayne Lougheed, who oversees communications for the Police Department.

"You want your radios to work the first time and not have to be concerned if you can use it,'' Lougheed said.

The current system has one transmitter on top of the Jackson Avenue water tank. Sometimes the signals can't make it through the hills and valleys of the township. The new system will have four transmission sites around the township to increase coverage, said Sandy Galacio, Wayne's emergency management coordinator.

The new radios should be working in about 18 months and will replace a system with parts that are nearly 30 years old and have deteriorated over time.

The township is building a system that is similar to communications used by the state police, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, and New York City police, who switched to a digital system after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, according to Galacio.

Bergen County received some federal grant money and is applying for additional funds. Wayne also is seeking grant money to offset the cost of its project, Mayor Christopher Vergano said.

The township bonded $3 million last year for the first phase of the project and plans to approve the rest of the financing by early next year.

Vergano acknowledged the price of the new system is steep, but added, "We have an obligation to protect our police, fire and first aid squad.''

And the cost was dictated by other factors in the township.

"The price is more than we like to spend but because of the size and terrain [of the township] this is the system that is needed,'' Vergano said.

The cost of the project covers new in-car and portable radios for police, a new police dispatch center and the necessary infrastructure.

"If you are a firefighter in a building fighting a fire, or you are a police officer at an armed robbery you need to hit the button and be heard,'' Galacio said. "And if you are the public, you want your emergency services to be able to get to you.''
 
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#3
Thats not necessarily true. Fort Lee is in the process of installing a Ma-Comm trunk system, that will be P25. As long as it is P25, you should be able to monitor it provided you have a P25 scanner. If it is Pro-Voice which is a Ma-Comm proprietary digital voice format then no, or if it is OpenSky aka Openwallet then no also.
 
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#4
Alarmguy said:
Thats not necessarily true. Fort Lee is in the process of installing a Ma-Comm trunk system, that will be P25. As long as it is P25, you should be able to monitor it provided you have a P25 scanner. If it is Pro-Voice which is a Ma-Comm proprietary digital voice format then no, or if it is OpenSky aka Openwallet then no also.
I see... okay thanks for the clarification.
 

Markscan

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#5
Another Municipal Blunder

I can only hope that Wayne spends the proper amount of money and designs a good system. We here in Verona operate a narrowband EDACS, and I can tell you it is not all that good. Our system is used by all agencies in town. However , when a police car goes over the hill into Montclair, they are not always able to talk with headquarters. When our ambulance goes to St. Barnabus they are out of range. When a fire truck goes to Cedar Grove for mutual aid, we have to switch to talk around. Our system was not digital, and only cost $1.6 million. And we only have one site, with a huge ugly radio tower, that will allow me to receive Verona in Manhattan, but not in the next town. When I ask certain questions about why our system is so screwed up , the "genius" who designed this monstrosity, replies simply " You don't like the answer!"
Anyway, I hope the good people of Wayne do not get sold a bill of goods that they don't need. Digital is not always the answer. And I was not aware that NYPD went digital after 9/11. And I don't believe that there old analog system is all that bad. Anyway, just my humble opinion.
 
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#6
Actually at one time Wayne PD used GE Radio equipment. Their vendor who is no longer in business was the one that sold Verona's system. For a long time you would hear Motorola radios in Wayne with GE-Star signalling. I don't know if being a former GE user influenced their decision to go with M/A Comm over their current Motorola equipment... One can only hope they use their heads and buy a P25 compatible system from MA/Comm and not get stuck with some proprietary baloney like Provoice or OpenSky.
 

gcr33

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#7
I like the part where they talk about analog being garbled. He must have lifted that phrase from one of the I hate digital threads.

Analog garbled? Let's see the town has grown but the radio system has not so there fore I have to justify spending money to get a new "digital" system.

BTW if it's P25 does not mean it's monitorable. P25 is an operating system. GE Toaster aka Tyco Toy aka For Sale radio company uses a different vocoder for digital.
 
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#8
gcr33 said:
BTW if it's P25 does not mean it's monitorable. P25 is an operating system. GE Toaster aka Tyco Toy aka For Sale radio company uses a different vocoder for digital.
For what it's worth, York County, Pa. is testing a P25 TRS built by Ma/COM. I have not personally heard this system (I'm about two countes east of York County), however, several people in that part of Pa. have been able to monitor the system.

The vocoder you're probably thinking of is the one used for ProVoice (ie. Middlesex County EDACS and most of Atlantic County's EDACS systems).

Of course, if Wayne Twp decides to encrypt any or (god forbid) all of it's xmits, then it's a moot point...
 
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#9
Does anyone remember Wayne's old low band system they had ?. I
remember when they replaced it with the current uhf system in the
late 1970's. Talk about a system that was bad as far as coverage .
 
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#10
JC1956 said:
Does anyone remember Wayne's old low band system they had ?. I
remember when they replaced it with the current uhf system in the
late 1970's. Talk about a system that was bad as far as coverage .
I do. I remember up till the mid 1990's the FD and EMS was on 46.3600. Never heard the PD on lowband, but I think it was 45 mhz something. It was before my time, I was not old enough to know what a scanner was LOL. I started with my first scanner in 1985 and the PD was on 471.2875 and 471.3125 back then and FD & EMS on lowband. Gotta love their radio tower at PD HQ town hall its rusted to pieces and looks like its about to fall to the ground.
 
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#11
Alarm Guy now that you mention it I also remember Wayne Fire/Ems on 46.36. I use to listen to them on a old Lafayette tuneable montior which only had low band and high band until I got a tennelec which they first came out with a non crystal scanner and that was in 1976 . Those were the days !!!!!!!
 
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SCPD

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#12
You would think with all of the problems with M/A-com, towns would steer clear. New York State and PA just dumped them. They we're late building the system, reception was terrible and I won't get into the cost overruns.

Does anyone know if there was a bid? I think NJ Law requires it, above a certain amount.
 
C

comsec1

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#13
trunk system ?

why would a town as small as wayne(square miles / amount of users) even need a trunked system. if they have coverage issues now why not just repair their existing infrastructure by replacing the old antennas and cabling and maybe some tranceivers at the towers at a savings of millions of dollars. this seems to be an issue of a salesman selling a town a bunch of bells and whistles that they don't need. I wonder if the town of wayne was told what it will cost to maintain a trunk system vs. a good old fashioned conventional radio network.
another issue comes into play now also and that is going to be interoperability, once they are up and running on their new system any agency that they might want to talk to or who might want to talk to them just became a giant headache, right back to square one for no communication.
 
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res148cue said:
You would think with all of the problems with M/A-com, towns would steer clear. New York State and PA just dumped them. They we're late building the system, reception was terrible and I won't get into the cost overruns.

Does anyone know if there was a bid? I think NJ Law requires it, above a certain amount.
148 you bring up a valid point.... Look at Lancaster County PA, They gave M/A Comm the boot too. M/A Comm was building an opensky system for Lanco and they fluffed that up big time. There is a lot of talk about it on the boards at lancasterfire.com . Comsec1 also brings up some good points in his post. I think these towns just listen to the salesman who wants to sell them the brooklyn bridge. They never think about everyday usage and practical uses, or what will happen down the road. Its all pie in the sky.... One just has to read the front page on RR to see about all the "issues" that agencies are going through with systems. No offense to cops, but most of them know nothing about radios except that you push to talk and the dispatcher answers. These towns really need someone with some sense that can see through the salesman's BS line.
 

SCPD

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#15
comsec1 said:
why would a town as small as wayne(square miles / amount of users) even need a trunked system. if they have coverage issues now why not just repair their existing infrastructure by replacing the old antennas and cabling and maybe some tranceivers at the towers at a savings of millions of dollars. this seems to be an issue of a salesman selling a town a bunch of bells and whistles that they don't need. I wonder if the town of wayne was told what it will cost to maintain a trunk system vs. a good old fashioned conventional radio network.
another issue comes into play now also and that is going to be interoperability, once they are up and running on their new system any agency that they might want to talk to or who might want to talk to them just became a giant headache, right back to square one for no communication.

Because they most likely got a Homeland Security grant to pay for most of the new equipment. If they take care of the new system like the old one, they need a new system again in a few years.
 
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#16
Ok....I've gotta chime in here. I'm a public safety dispatcher who has been dispatching since 1992. I dispatched full-time for Wayne Township from 11/93 to 6/98 and again from 1/03 to 11/07. I'm also a dispatcher for Wanaque PD, starting there in 6/92 through to the present. I was a full-time dispatcher in Wanaque from 6/98 to 2/02 and again from 11/07 to the present. The remainder of time in Wanaque between 6/92 and 11/07 was spent as a part-time dispatcher.

Gcr33 wrote:

I like the part where they talk about analog being garbled. He must have lifted that phrase from one of the I hate digital threads.
Analog garbled? Let's see the town has grown but the radio system has not so there fore I have to justify spending money to get a new "digital" system.
Ok...maybe garbled wasn't the right word but I can tell you from first-hand experience that there were (and still are) many instances in Wayne where radio communications just don't get through. Is it 'garbled'? Maybe unreadable would have been a better word.......:wink:

As for the town growing but the radio system not growing so let's buy a new 'digital' system...well knowing the lieutenant who currently runs the Communications Bureau I think I can safely say that is not the way he's looking at this. The current system and equipment in place in Wayne has been there since the 1980's. Unless you're careless with money you're not just going to go out and buy the current state-of-the-art of anything just because you all of a sudden can. I do know that before I left Wayne PD last year they had visited numerous other departments and reviewed all the different types of systems that were available before they even knew if this project would be given the go-ahead. I'm not defending or putting down or endorsing their choice of system, I'm just saying that I know first-hand that the Communications Bureau supervisors did research before they knew the project would even be ok'd.

Comsec1 wrote:

why would a town as small as wayne(square miles / amount of users) even need a trunked system. if they have coverage issues now why not just repair their existing infrastructure by replacing the old antennas and cabling and maybe some tranceivers at the towers at a savings of millions of dollars. this seems to be an issue of a salesman selling a town a bunch of bells and whistles that they don't need. I wonder if the town of wayne was told what it will cost to maintain a trunk system vs. a good old fashioned conventional radio network.
A town as small as Wayne??? 27 square miles is small??? Well ok...population is listed at 54,000 but that is easily doubled during the day so I don't think Wayne qualifies as a small town. Just repair the existing infrastructure? It's been done several times over in the 10 years I was there and it never netted a noticeable improvement. As an example the transmitter room is not climate-controlled and leaks the outside weather in. I don't care how much you improve the equipment....if the environment it's installed in can't protect it it doesn't matter, you're just throwing money away. It was always amazing to me that they never repaired the actual structure the transmitters were in. I saw pictures last year and let's just say it was disgusting.

I do agree with the statement about the salesman bamboozling the town, but then again that's a good salesmans job :D . However I do feel that the current system in Wayne is far beyond repair. The only appreciable upgrade ever made to the system while I was there was when the FD and EMS moved off of 46.38 and went to their own UHF channels in the mid-to-late 1990's.

I've been in Wanaque, a little town (11,000 residents/10 square miles) between f/t and p/t status since 1992. I'm currently working in my 3rd completely new radio room and radio system that went on-line in 2006. We now have Motorola touch-screen radios and have upgraded from VHF-Lo with no repeaters to UHF with 4 repeaters, all analog. When I told my co-workers in the Wayne radio room that we were getting our third new radio room and radio system in 14 years it raised more than a few eyebrows.

Not wanting to offend anyone here who may be an elected town official but that is where the problem in Wayne really lies. In the 10 years I dispatched there the department tried several times to do either a major overhaul or a complete system replacement. It seemed that the town always had other priorities. I know money is an issue and if grant money isn't available many times the project just doesn't happen because the elected officials don't want to upset their constituents by raising taxes to pay for it. However I feel that that is a poor excuse when it comes to protecting emergency service personnel. Your emergency service personnel are only as good as the system dispatching them. If they can't hear the calls, or we can't hear them calling us, they're useless. It goes without saying the jeopardy you're then putting your residents in.

Remember.....Wanaque, 3 radio systems/rooms in 14 years. 2 of them came before 9-11 and the resulting grants that have become available. Are our taxes high? No more so than any other small town in Passaic County. Our Chief, as well as the Mayor and Council realize that the safety of emergency service personnel, and through them your residents, is not to be taken for granted. Maybe someone should let the Wayne Township leaders in on that......:wink:
 
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Markscan

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#17
Saleman Bamboozling is on target!!!

The consultant who sold us our "mistake" was later hired by the town to maintain our system. Verona is only 2.9 square miles, and has no need for a system such as this. Our PD was operating perfectly well on a repeaterized Uhf channel. This only came about when the FD and VRS wanted to upgrade from Vhf low, the were sold a bill of goods. The county of Essex has their own EDACS system that they NEVER use. That should have been our first clue.
 
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#18
Markscan wrote:

The county of Essex has their own EDACS system that they NEVER use. That should have been our first clue.
That's what I'm afraid of happening in Wayne. They've gone so long with a system held together with baling wire and duct tape that it's entirely possible they could be talked into buying almost anything! However, as I posted before the powers that be in the Comm Bureau have done their research. Even though they are not radio techs they do have enough common sense to ask when they don't know or understand something, and to go beyond just asking the guy promoting/selling the product.

I just hope that the key decisions about what their new system will have is made by those who will be as close to using it as possible and not by the politicians who will never use it, much less ever set foot in the radio room at all!

Of course the other issue is a lack of qualified radio repair/installation companies in this area. My favorite Wayne story is the one tech who would come out on-call. We would tell him what problem we were having and he would then go into the equipment room just off the radio room and just stand there for a while, occasionally flipping a switch here and there. He'd then go up to the transmitter site, spend some time up there, and then come back to HQ saying 1) there was nothing wrong after all (he always wrong on that one), or 2) he could confirm the problem but he didn't know how to fix it. I don't remember him ever being able to resolve whatever issue it was he was called out for. To be fair there are some great installers/techs in our area but it seems, to me anyway, that they are in the minority. Anyway..this a topic for a totally different thread :D .
 

ResQguy

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#19
Alarmguy said:
Actually at one time Wayne PD used GE Radio equipment. Their vendor who is no longer in business was the one that sold Verona's system.
Warner Communications went out of business?
 

SCPD

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#20
Markscan said:
The consultant who sold us our "mistake" was later hired by the town to maintain our system. Verona is only 2.9 square miles, and has no need for a system such as this. Our PD was operating perfectly well on a repeaterized Uhf channel. This only came about when the FD and VRS wanted to upgrade from Vhf low, the were sold a bill of goods. The county of Essex has their own EDACS system that they NEVER use. That should have been our first clue.
Agreed. I could never figure out why they have a TRS. West Orange and Union Co. has a very good system I think (I can hear it). Maybe Wayne will keep it analog. IF they did, there research that's where M/A-com falls apart in the digital area.

I tried to listen to Essex but there is a frequency missing in the db. If it's analog they should use it. What a waste of money.
 
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