County Awards Communications Contract
New emergency system will prevent outsiders from listening.
Thursday, January 6, 2011
Monterey County has awarded a $15 million contract to upgrade the radio system that links the county’s 19 public safety agencies, a response to a federal mandate that requires all radio systems to have their frequencies decreased by 2013.
Florida-based Harris PSPC (Public Safety and Professional Communications) Corp. was awarded the contract in December. The company has started designing the system; once approved, Harris will begin implementing it, with a deadline of Jan. 1, 2013.
The public safety agencies, including the county Sheriff’s Department and local fire districts, will collectively fund the project infrastructure, but individual agencies are responsible for taking care of any equipment used by individual personnel, says Lynn Diebold, the county’s Director of Emergency Communications.
The network, a cost-saving VHF radio system, will span 3,300 miles.
Diebold says the current system, designed in the ’70s, makes it nearly impossible for agencies to contact one another. The new system, meanwhile, will keep outsiders – including gang members, media and the public – from listening in.
“The Sheriff can’t communicate with the Salinas Police Department,” she says. “One of the main things we learned from 9/11 is that people have to be able to talk to one another.”
The Harris contract comes at a time when Monterey’s neighbors to the north in Santa Clara County are fighting a federal broadband grant awarded to Motorola Corp. to build out a Bay Area emergency communications network. Both the county and the city of San Jose allege the grant was awarded outside of normal bid procedures.