NYPD Builds "Fail-Safe" Communications Network

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KAA951

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NYPD Builds Own Fail-safe Communication Network

By MURRAY WEISS and DAVID SEIFMAN
Courtesy of The New York Post

April 3, 2008 -- The NYPD is spending millions of dollars on a fail-safe satellite communication network in the event land line and cellular services are knocked out by a disaster.

And officials aren't talking about a terrorist attack - but fallout from a crippling natural disaster like Hurricane Katrina.

The backup system, which includes antennas on the rooftop of every station house and hard-wiring facilities for global communication, is included in emergency plans to cope with storm surges of 25 feet, 120-mph winds and hundreds of casualties.

The NYPD has embarked on a $5 million project to install the electronic infrastructure at all its 76 precincts and dozens of other housing, transit and special operations structures with the two-foot high antennas to be in place by the end of May and the service available by July.

In addition, the department has already purchased about 150 satellite phones - each costing about $1,000 a piece - that are in the hands of supervisors all over the Big Apple should the need arise for hand-held connectivity.

And the NYPD is seeking to buy another 120 phones to further expand the global hookup to ensure cops can communicate during any situation.

"Whatever the emergency, even if there is a localized blackout from telephone lines and service being cut, we would still have commanders in affected areas with communication abilities even in isolated, catastrophic conditions," an NYPD spokesman said.

During the attack on the World Trade Center, cellular phone and land line service were severely disrupted.

But predictions about the impact of a natural calamity could dwarf the difficulties that arose on 9/11, especially when it comes to communications and keeping the city running. In recent years, meteorologists have warned that climate in the Northeast was creating a scenario for a massive cycle of storms, pressure systems and high water temperatures in the Atlantic, which could produce killer hurricanes.

murray.weiss@nypost.com
 

w8jkc

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Yeah it would probably have the same effect, especially considering the Global Sat Phone use at the specific time they need them, and their 150 now and 120 more later.

Seems like they haven't done any "try before you buy" with them.
Well, we shall see. I'm sure they'll test it as soon as they get the Sat Phones...

Justin
W8JKC
 

BHART

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Better than nothing

I would bet a satellite, or satellites, could handle a lot more than 150 calls...and even if it can't, isn't 150 better than zero ?
 

bpckty1

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I hope the officers, firefighters, and ems personnel have radios that have simplex/talkaround capability, and that they have the training to know how to use them. Despite all the $$$$ put into improving the infrastructure, Murphy is around and will throw monkey wrenches into the best plans made. Just remember to keep it simple.

Oops, I forgot, this is big government. Sorry 'bout dat...
 

franka00213

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Its weird some of the cops i have talked to say that they dont no anymore than just the basic "changing the channel" on there radios. They cost so much you would think more training would be put into showing the people useing the radios everything about them.
 

ab3a

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It's funny how the real prices of these sorts of things don't change. If you want real connectivity, you need to spend at least $1k per unit. The big question is this: will these supervisors know who to call when the chips are down? Will the outside world know who they are? Will they have these things with them and fully charged batteries when the disaster strikes?

The list goes on. I think they need to consider what real disaster planning looks like.
 

bpckty1

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Nothing strange about that. I've seen senior officials that didn't know more than how the on-off knob worked. One of the problems is the radios are issued, and the manuals stay secured at the warehouse, unless someone asks for one.
 

902

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karldotcom said:
Uh...if 150 satellite phones all place calls at the same time, wont the same result happen?
No, not really. The problem happens with tens of thousands of calls from media, NGOs, businesses who have invoked their Continuity of Operations plans, and people who invest their money in nifty toys like sat phones start using them. Then, the system does choke down bigtime.
 

mm

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Or wait just a few more years for the peak of the next solar cycle for a moderate sized solar flare to take out some of the Satellites, it wouldn't be the first time that it happened.

This seems to be the big seller this year, putting the DHS grant money into using satellites for public safety use.

Someone has now sold public safety on another hair brained idea that's not any more reliable than the other fragile forms of communication they are now using.
 

902

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mm said:
Someone has now sold public safety on another hair brained idea that's not any more reliable than the other fragile forms of communication they are now using.
I'm not specifically addressing NYC, but very few of these grants actually makes it to meaningful projects. Vendors intentionally target people in leadership positions to sell them on how much they need their items. Several years ago it was JPS boxes (worse than a firearm in the hands of an untrained individual... especially if there's collar-gold involved). Now it's satphones.

It's like the Fuller Brush man going door to door trying to convince people they needed a special coat brush back in the day.

The one thing many grant recipients don't count on is that once whatever minutes that were included in the grant are up, they have to start floating the recurring costs themselves. Then they are horrified and the things sit in the corner because they didn't (or can't) budget for the on-going operation. Not saying that's NYC's deal, but it happens by me all the time with grant recipients. We want, we want. We get. Then we ask for sustainment monies. If we don't get them, the thing sits in a parking lot rusting out and growing weeds around it.
 

wirr

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I believe this is a 2.5 GHz data network. The 150 satellite phones are a separate item.
 
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