columbia County Sheriff says digital is required

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Plectron479

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The Columbia County Board on Wednesday voted unanimously to pay more than $455,000 for an upgraded public safety communications system, but not before many board members raised questions about why the supervisors had to decide so quickly on an expenditure that is not in the county's 2010 budget.

The County Board's finance committee last week took up the proposal to buy new hardware and software that will allow squad cars, dispatch centers, the county's highway department and local emergency responders and firefighters to communicate and respond to emergencies more quickly.

But the judiciary committee, which oversees the sheriff's office, didn't address the proposed expenditure until about an hour before Wednesday's board meeting.

Judiciary committee member Robert Lane of rural Pardeeville said he "reluctantly" joined the other three committee members in voting to forward the proposed purchase to the full County Board, because he was concerned that the committee didn't have sufficient time to scrutinize the purchase.

"Is it something we have to have, or something we want?" he asked.

Sheriff Dennis Richards said the upgraded communications system was to be part of a federally required conversion of the county's radios from analog to digital by 2013. The County Board plans to issue bonds for the conversion project, estimated to cost as much as $4.51 million.

Richards noted that the bonds for the radio project aren't due to be issued until later this year. But, if the communications system is purchased now, it can be in place by the beginning of 2011, meaning that the county would no longer have to pay about $44,000 for a maintenance agreement covering the existing communications apparatus.

"This allows us to do more with less money," Richards said.

The new system, Richards said, would allow swift communication among police, firefighters, other public safety agencies and the highway department in the event of emergencies such as floods, tornados and hazardous materials spills.

For example, if hazardous materials were released, the equipment could measure the direction of the wind and not only alert the highway department as to which roads should be closed and where traffic should be rerouted, but also could automatically telephone people living in the area of the release.

In the long run, Richards said, installing the new communications system now might lessen the overall cost of the radio upgrade.

The resolution that the supervisors approved calls for transferring an amount not to exceed $445,310 from the county's general fund to the radio upgrade fund, and to reimburse the general fund later with bonds, which will be paid back over several years by the property taxpayers.
 

LDRA37

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The source of this article is from the Portage Daily Register and written by Lyn Jerde.

"By Lyn Jerde, Daily Register | Posted: Thursday, March 18, 2010 11:45 pm - ljerde@capitalnewspapers.com 745-3587"

Based on previous articles from her she is not very technical and just doesn't know the difference between digital and narrow band. More misinformation to the masses.
 

SCPD

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I wonder how many other agencies go this smoke blown up the @$$. So far Columbia county and City of Milwaukee.
 

Mweiher

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I believe all the confusion comes from the digital television migration in the 700 mhz band. Because that WAS a mandate to go to digital....

In recent stories on the City of Milwaukee, it became apparent the local media also had this misinformation. However, further digging also demonstated that the LMR vendors are not offering non-digital migrations. So, on ONE level, you might SAY you have to migrate to digital. You can't migrate to analog anymore. HOWEVER, there are other options. Such as working with your neighbors to get on a shared system. In this case, are they considering WISCOM or going on their own? It would seem to me this should be very carefully looked at across the state. WISCOM can save local muncipalities money on infrastructure costs. Time will tell....
 

jim202

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Did you ever think that this is probably a Motorola system and the sales force is twisting the
2013 narrow banding requirement for VHF and UHF radios systems to also be a foot in the door
to strongly imply that the systems needs to be converted to digital so they can sell all new radios
again. Even though they may or may not have narrow band capable radios, it is easy to push the
digital conversion.

Jim




I wonder how many other agencies go this smoke blown up the @$$. So far Columbia county and City of Milwaukee.
 

R8000

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LMR vendors are not offering non-digital migrations.
As a vendor, we don't see it that way. Most time people go to digital, and hate it. Analog simulcast wins hand down when it comes to being able to understand somebody vs a vocoder making you sound like a robot throwing up.

Saying all vendors only migrate to digital is not accurate. I work for a vender, and we sell analog public safety simulcast systems left and right.
 

Plectron479

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update on digital, now its not required

By Lyn Jerde, Daily Register | Posted: Wednesday, April 14, 2010 11:41 pm | (0) Comments

Columbia County's compliance with a federal mandate for narrow-band radios does not require the county to replace its existing radios with digital equipment at about triple the cost, the County Board's judiciary committee was reassured Wednesday.

Furthermore, the actual cost of the project - which has been estimated to be as high as $4.51 million - could end up being considerably lower, partly because much of the county's existing radio equipment is capable of narrow-band operation.

The judiciary committee delved into the issue Wednesday largely because of an anonymous letter received by many supervisors several weeks ago, which prompted them to seek clarification on what's required for narrow-band compliance, and at what cost.

Supervisor Andy Ross of Poynette said the anonymous letter-writer's concern, as he understood it, was that the county might be spending more money than necessary to comply with a Federal Communications Commission mandate that public safety radios such as those used by police, fire departments and ambulances must conform to narrow-band technology.

That's why Sheriff Dennis Richards invited Steve Dubberstein of Portage, general manager of Communications Service Inc., to Wednesday's judiciary committee meeting.

Dubberstein, whose firm has worked with the county on its radio needs for many years, said an analog radio, of the type commonly used by a firefighter, would cost about $500, whereas a comparable digital radio could cost $1,500 to $2,000.

But the consultant working with the county on the narrow-band compliance (which is not Dubberstein's company) doesn't propose replacing all analog radios with digital radios.

Analog radios can be used with the narrower band width that the FCC is requiring - not only for public safety radio systems, but also for radio systems licensed to industrial and business users. Users must convert to and operate in 12.5 kilohertz (kHz) frequency and replace existing equipment capable of 25 kHz operation. This is designed partly to make more radio frequencies available for public safety use, Dubberstein said.

In Columbia County, this would affect not only the radios used by the sheriff's office, but also other radios, such as those used by the highway department.

Transmissions from digital equipment are not clearer, nor can they travel farther, than those from analog equipment, Dubberstein said.

County Board Chairwoman Debra Wopat said the County Board expects to consider issuing bonds for the narrow-band project in August or September, when bids come in and cost estimates are a little more firm than they are now.

Richards said several factors, including adequate existing radio equipment, could lessen the $4.51 million projected cost.

Another possible source of confusion about the radio project, Richards said, was the County Board's recent decision to spend no more than $445,310 for an upgraded public safety communications system - which is not related to the narrow-band project.

That expenditure is mostly for software, and some hardware, that will allow squad cars, dispatch centers, the county's highway department and local emergency responders and firefighters to assess, communicate and respond to emergencies more quickly.

Although the county had considered bonding for that expenditure at the same time as the narrow-band project, the two aren't related. The supervisors last month voted to pay for the communications system from the county's general fund now, and pay back the general fund with bonds, to allow the system to be in place by the beginning of 2011, thus saving the county the cost of maintenance for the existing communications system.

ljerde@

capitalnewspapers.com

745-3587
 
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