Interoperability drives county’s radio upgrade
Lake County, Ohio, has implemented a mixed-mode communications system to provide interoperability among the county’s public safety and public service agencies. “By sharing a common system, we are better able to coordinate our response in emergency situations,” says David Loomis, assistant telecommunications director for the county.
The new, $7.8 million system replaces a countywide analog radio system installed in 1985. Supplied by Schaumburg, Ill.-based Motorola, the Astro SmartZone system incorporates digital and analog technology, and it provides four sites and 13 channels for voice communication. Lake County’s cost includes the purchase of 585 digital mobile radios, 1,216 portable radios, 520 analog mobile radios, 85 control stations and an eight-position dispatch console.
The system is being used by 40 public safety agencies as well as by schools. The county will add 25 public service agencies to the system in the near future. It also can add frequencies if necessary.
In addition to connecting local agencies, the system is compatible with a radio system in neighboring Geauga County. Both capabilities are important in meeting the county’s goal of establishing seamless communications. “The ability to set up talk groups … will enhance efficiency in day-to-day operations and mission-critical situations,” Loomis says.
Regional interoperability is particularly important in Lake County, which is home to a large nuclear power plant. Emergency personnel must be able to communicate across the local coverage area, as well as with neighboring jurisdictions, in case of an accident at the plant. Recognizing that, plant owner First Energy, based in Cleveland, contributed significant funding for the new communications system.