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Post Posted: Nov 22, 2007 2:22 pm 
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here is my take.

State of the Art? you bet

Cutting or bleeding edge tech? NO WAY. need to be a rev or two back for stability

Maintain the ability to perform without the technology? YES BIGTIME. Keep them tube radios around. remember how to coordinate with pen and paper.

remember how to read a map and compass.

Tech is great, but it is no replacement for PROPER skills, process and procedure.


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Post Posted: Nov 23, 2007 11:48 am 
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Reminds me of a couple summers ago while on anchor in Prince William Sound between salmon openers.

A very important Attorney (or so he said on the radio) was lost and needed help immediately or he would not make it in to his court date.
Insisted that someone help him(need I say very arrogantly).

He was lost but knew his position to within 30' because he had a brand new GPS.

And no chart

One of the Tenders eventually headed into town and he followed---at least half a day late.


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Post Posted: Jan 26, 2008 8:46 am 
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Aurora, CO

An example of city and private money pouring into a technology not perfected, and the older radio scorned:
Aurora policing "dead spots"
In two recent incidents, officers at a mall and a school could not contact dispatchers for help.
Quote:

AURORA — Officials are taking steps to increase the efficiency of the city's emergency radio system after it failed twice recently because of "dead spots" — one at a high school and the other at a mall.

On Jan. 2, officers responded to the Town Center at Aurora on a report of a man with a gun outside the mall. After spotting the man, who was with another man, one officer tried to contact dispatchers for backup but was unable to reach anyone.

That forced the officer, according to a police report, to go to an area where his radio would work, leaving his partner, who was watching the men, alone and without cover. The two men were caught; the suspected weapon was a BB gun.

In another incident, a school resource officer at Cherokee Trail High School could not radio for help.

The events raise questions about the efficiency of the city's emergency radio system and have led officials to check for dead spots in those locations.

"Of course we don't want any part of the city to be a dead spot for public-safety communications," City Councilman Larry Beer said.

Dead spots are not uncommon in many cities. Several years ago, Denver reported 24 dead spots throughout the city, including downtown, the Denver Tech Center and Cherry Creek. That is leading Denver to build towers to ensure proper coverage.

Mark Pray, director of information technology for Aurora, said his office fields a handful of complaints each month, but most turn out to be problems with radio equipment.

Other complaints are made when police or firefighters try to use the 800-megahertz radio system in basements or in buildings with extremely thick walls.

In 2004, the city passed a law requiring new owners of buildings larger than 50,000 square feet to test for effectiveness of radios, and if there are dead spots, the owner must install amplifiers.

"Police officer safety is our No. 1 priority," Pray said. "Based on that report (at Town Center), we are commissioning a survey of that building."

Aurora police referred calls for comment to the police information technology department. But Aurora Deputy Fire Chief Danny Willcox said dead spots do not happen often.

"Certain areas that are critical for us, like schools, we'd like to see them install amplifiers," Willcox said.

Tustin Amole, spokeswoman for the Cherry Creek School District, said the district is in talks with police about how to best fix the problem.

Retrofitting schools that have dead spots with amplifiers would cost an estimated $80,000 per school depending on the severity of the problem, Amole said.

"We want to make sure we have the best possible coverage," she said.

Our fine local online scanner page monitors Aurora- anyone with a computer and an internet connection can hear the troubled system firsthand by going to this link and clicking on "Aurora Police":
<a href="http://www.scandenver.net">Scan Denver Homepage</a>

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http://www.broadcastify.com/listen/feed/222


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Post Posted: Jan 26, 2008 4:19 pm 
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As Comms volunteer with North Park County Ambulance, we have to switch from our analog VHF radios to digital VHF by next year. And then we get to add 800MHz to our ambulances a year or two after that!

As a non-profit emergency medical service, the costs are literally frightening; and the complexity of the 800MHz system will likely require extensive technical training for all my field personnel! These folks are terriffic in medical emergencies, but now I have to figure out how to train them in a comms system that will have several hundred channels programmed into it, and may be configured with eencoding, to prevent outside scanners from receiving intelligible comms!

NPCA will have both VHF digital, and 800MHz Project 25 radios. And I'll put some of the reliable analog VHF comms equipment into storage. And I'll try and keep my wits about me when anyone asks me what I might want in Comms gear, because it's pointless. The equipment that was so incredibly durable and reliable was discontinued years ago.

All hail Project 25.

It's coming, and nothing can stop it.

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Post Posted: Apr 2, 2008 10:29 am 
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Virginia FD Report: Digital Radios Extremely Vulnerable

On April 16, 2007, firefighter Kyle Wilson was part of a crew dispatched to fight a residential fire in Woodbridge, Va. He died in the line of duty.

A detailed report on the incident recently released by Prince William County Department of Fire and Rescue concluded that problems associated with the use of the county's Motorola digital trunked radio system contributed to the tragedy.
Quote:
Issues reported by other firefighters during that incident, which was further complicated by strong winds, ranged from signal distortion and transmission failure to radios displaying "out of range" signals.

Fire safety advocates now are encouraging fire departments across the country to study the incident in hopes that future tragedies could be avoided. Prince William County's fire department, through further tests, concluded that digital portable radios are "extremely vulnerable to poor environmental conditions and interference of digital noise from ambient sources, which negatively impact the ability of emergency personnel to effectively communicate."

A handful of fire and police departments, fearing the loss of lives, have opted to continue using analog systems even when the rest of their county's emergency personnel are using digital trunking systems.

The common complaint, which most affects fire departments, concerns the digital vocoder's inability to differentiate between a voice transmission and background noise - whether a chain saw, sprayed water or personal alarm. Background noise renders the voice transmission distorted and often unintelligible. Another critical problem is that digital radios lose contact inside buildings. "In most cases, it is a very political and sensitive position to abandon expensive technology and go back to something that is old," said Daryl Jones, owner and president of Telecommunications Engineering Associates, which manages public safety systems throughout the San Mateo area in California. "But many agencies are finding that complaints from line personnel, both in fire and police, are so significant."

The Boise (Idaho) Fire Department spent about $1 million two years ago on mobile and portable radio equipment to join a cutting-edge countywide 700 MHz digital trunking system. While training users on the system, the fire department discovered problems with voice intelligibility when a firefighter's low-air alarm went off. That led the department to investigate the issue further, and it found more instances where alarms interfered with the quality of voice transmissions. Today, the Boise Fire Department and other fire departments in the county remain on analog VHF radios while the rest of the county operates on the 700 MHz digital trunking system.



<a href="http://cms.firehouse.com/content/article/printer.jsp?id=58930">Complete article at Firehouse.com</a>


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 Post subject: VHF Radios Key to Interoperability in Boulder Fire
Post Posted: Sep 14, 2010 10:11 pm 
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VHF Radios Key to Interoperability in Boulder Fire
<a href="http://www.radioresourcemag.com/newsArticle.cfm?news_id=6146">RadioReferenceMag.com</a> wrote:
VHF Radios Key to Interoperability in Boulder Fire (9/14/10)
By Michelle Zilis
A Boulder County (Colo.) Sheriff’s Office official said its analog conventional VHF radio system allowed responders from local, state and federal agencies to interoperate without problems during the destructive Fourmile Canyon Fire last week.

The fire spread across 6,427 acres and destroyed 169 structures before it was 100 percent contained Monday evening. More than 900 firefighters from at least 35 local, regional and national agencies worked to contain the fire that began Sept. 6, according to the Boulder County Office of Emergency Management website.

Operating on the Boulder County Sheriff’s Office analog conventional VHF radio system, first responders were able to successfully communicate with one another. “We were very pleased with the performance of our VHF radio system,” said Division Chief James Smith, Boulder County Sheriff’s Office. “It worked as expected and as it has worked for us in other major events.”

The VHF system is shared throughout the county and allows fire, law, EMS and public-works responders to talk with each other on the shared channels. The system has been in operation for many years, Smith said.

The county is an associate member/user of the statewide 800 MHz digital trunked public-safety radio system, the Consolidated Communications Network of Colorado (CCNC). However, the statewide network was used only on an interoperable basis. “We’ve found that the 700/800 MHz digital trunked radio system provided insufficient coverage in the area of the fire,” Smith said.

Agencies that responded and primarily operate on CCNC, such as the Colorado State Patrol, were given VHF cache radios from the Boulder network. Many federal agencies responding used field-programmable VHF radios for mutual aid. “We can quickly program all of these radios with shared frequencies,” Smith said.

<a href="http://www.radioresourcemag.com/newsArticle.cfm?news_id=6146">RadioReferenceMag.com</a>


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Post Posted: Sep 5, 2011 9:21 am 
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I started this thread six years ago. SIX YEARS AGO! And guess what? IT IS STILL AN ISSUE! Counties are paying through every bodily orifice for radios THAT DO NOT WORK! And if they do work, THEY CANNOT TALK TO THE NEXT COUNTY'S RADIOS!

The radios offered to counties directly parallel cellphone technology. If there are no towers in Line-Of-Sight, they GET NO SERVICE! Also, unlike the old analog technology, they depend on towers for EVERY OPERATION!
The old technology could at least talk radio to radio and a kind of telephone tree could be put in place.

Our emergency services are depending on their own cellphones, Ham radios, and bootlegged old radios. Poor unemployment-riddled counties are letting their new $2 million radios sit idle on the seat while the real job gets done.

Why are we still visiting this subject, twelve years after noone could talk to each other on the Columbine scene, ten years after FF's could not communicate In The Twin Towers (a token taker listening to the scanner was the one who stopped subways from coming into the WTC station), and years after Katrina radios could not talk radio to radio due to towers being dead and flooded with no chance for genarator backup?

<a href="http://www.denverpost.com/news/ci_18827890">DenverPost.com</a>
http://www.denverpost.com/news/ci_18827890

The Statewide DTRS system is used by many counties. The point behind having a statewide system was to share costs. I have not seen the state coming through with money for more towers.


<a href="http://www.denverpost.com/news/ci_18827890">DenverPost.com</a> wrote:
The problem with the new system, in Las Animas and other mountainous counties, is twofold:
• The new towers that enable 800-MHz radios to transmit signals from tower to tower statewide depend on a visual line of sight between towers. Las Animas has three towers but would need four more to actually use the statewide system throughout the county.
• The U.S. Forest Service and the Colorado State Forest Service recognized that the expensive new radios don't work well in the mountains. So they've kept their very high frequency, or VHF, radios and can't talk to firefighters on 800-MHz radios anyway.


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Post Posted: Oct 4, 2011 6:32 pm 
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The other end of the scale- when every agency can talk to each other, it can....... Crash



Radio system used by police, fire crashed with overload from Charlotte School District
<a href="http://www.wbtv.com/story/15497733/charlotte-police-radio-systems-crashed-wtih-overload-from-cms">WBTV Charlotte</a> wrote:
CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - There was a safety concern among Charlotte's first responders when an unexpected issue came up just as the school year started.

The wireless radios stalled out when the Charlotte Mecklenburg communications system came at or near capacity.

Everyone from first responders to utilities workers and parks and recreation employees use the same system to communicate.

They're all on the same network – some 17,000 users. Captain Rob Brisley with the Charlotte Fire Department some of those users got a busy signal in the afternoon as CMS was letting school out.

The problem was traced back to too many buses coming on to the system at once.

We're still trying to figure out from CMS why it would happen this year and not in years past. The bell schedule changed this year, but dismissal times are still staggered.

One industry insider told WBTV this kind of communication failure is extremely rare especially for a system like Charlotte-Mecklenburg's which is very well maintained.

<a href="http://www.wbtv.com/story/15497733/charlotte-police-radio-systems-crashed-wtih-overload-from-cms">WBTV Charlotte</a>


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Post Posted: Oct 4, 2011 7:37 pm 
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Really good examples of why the local fire departments are reluctant to take on the communication risk during critical or other incidents. I hear the digital problems every day in the work truck, although some comms do come through ok. It all depends on tower location. Incrimental at best for mountain areas.


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Post Posted: Oct 5, 2011 8:57 am 
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Lazierfan wrote:
I started this thread six years ago. SIX YEARS AGO! And guess what? IT IS STILL AN ISSUE! Counties are paying through every bodily orifice for radios THAT DO NOT WORK! And if they do work, THEY CANNOT TALK TO THE NEXT COUNTY'S RADIOS!

The radios offered to counties directly parallel cellphone technology. If there are no towers in Line-Of-Sight, they GET NO SERVICE! Also, unlike the old analog technology, they depend on towers for EVERY OPERATION!
The old technology could at least talk radio to radio and a kind of telephone tree could be put in place.

Our emergency services are depending on their own cellphones, Ham radios, and bootlegged old radios. Poor unemployment-riddled counties are letting their new $2 million radios sit idle on the seat while the real job gets done.

Why are we still visiting this subject, twelve years after noone could talk to each other on the Columbine scene, ten years after FF's could not communicate In The Twin Towers (a token taker listening to the scanner was the one who stopped subways from coming into the WTC station), and years after Katrina radios could not talk radio to radio due to towers being dead and flooded with no chance for genarator backup?

<a href="http://www.denverpost.com/news/ci_18827890">DenverPost.com</a>
http://www.denverpost.com/news/ci_18827890

The Statewide DTRS system is used by many counties. The point behind having a statewide system was to share costs. I have not seen the state coming through with money for more towers.


<a href="http://www.denverpost.com/news/ci_18827890">DenverPost.com</a> wrote:
The problem with the new system, in Las Animas and other mountainous counties, is twofold:
• The new towers that enable 800-MHz radios to transmit signals from tower to tower statewide depend on a visual line of sight between towers. Las Animas has three towers but would need four more to actually use the statewide system throughout the county.
• The U.S. Forest Service and the Colorado State Forest Service recognized that the expensive new radios don't work well in the mountains. So they've kept their very high frequency, or VHF, radios and can't talk to firefighters on 800-MHz radios anyway.


And as you say, this is not a new problem. Yet the federal government has been throwing money at this problem for years (from 2004-2008, 4.3 billion alone) and agencies 20 mile apart can't communicate with each other. From an article dated 02-17-2010...

Quote:
From 2004 to 2008, the only years for which detailed figures are available, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) approved more than $4.3 billion in grant money to improve interoperability among first responders nationwide. DHS officials have said that more grant money has gone to interoperability than to any other initiative, and it continues to be a major focus for DHS grant programs, while also drawing funding from the economic stimulus package.

Yet for years, results have failed to live up to expectations. In 2004, then-DHS Secretary Tom Ridge promised that by year’s end, it would be possible for most first responders to talk to each other in a crisis. But in 2005, Hurricane Katrina proved that the country was nowhere near ready to handle a real disaster. By 2009, DHS officials were still struggling to convince Congress that first responders could reach basic communications goals.

http://www.publicintegrity.org/investig ... ntry/1925/


This is more of our money, being irresponsibly spent by the kleptocrats and plutocrats in Washington DC. Wasteful contracts going to Republican cronies, Democrat cronies... and all the while, we sit back and argue over partisan phantoms while there is a monetary gold rush in the halls of Congress. I'll tell you what part of the system works fine... the system of our tax money rushing into the hands of the favorite cronies of the GOP and the Democrats.

Well... at least something works.


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Post Posted: Oct 5, 2011 12:10 pm 
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Remember that most of the Firefighters and EMS personnel killed on 9/11 were killed because they couldn't hear the order to withdraw. Same radio system.

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 Post subject: Maryland county dispatch system under fire
Post Posted: Dec 16, 2011 4:06 pm 
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Tiburon Inc. system initial cost for software only: $6.6 million and $300,000/yr for maintenance/support

<a href="http://www.mdgazette.com/content/66m-county-dispatch-system-under-fire">Maryland Gazette</a> wrote:
In the week since county officials launched a new computer-aided dispatch system, police officers have gone into calls “blind” and dispatchers have lost track of ambulances and fire crews, according to the leaders of some local unions and several officers and firefighters

The $6.6 million system, which went live eight days ago, was plagued with problems over the weekend, said O’Brien Atkinson, president of the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 70.

And in interviews, police officers complained that they could no longer review an address’ prior calls for service before responding to an emergency and that dispatchers couldn’t identify or properly locate them in the county.

“They implemented the system before it was ready,” Atkinson said Tuesday after a three-hour conference call with the department’s officials and representatives of the company behind the new software. “The dispatchers don’t seem to know the system … or the system doesn’t work.”

County officials defended the new system, which was purchased four years ago after a competitive bid process.

“Sure there are a few little kinks, but the main functions are working fine,” said Bill Ryan, county director of information technology.

Justin Mulcahy, a spokesman for the police department, stressed that the department is working to iron out the kinks. He said representatives from the vendor — Tiburon Inc. of Pleasanton, Calif. — will stay on site until Friday.

“As with any new technology … growing pains are expected and there will be a learning curve,” Mulcahy said.

The county purchased the Tiburon E911 Computer-Aided Dispatch and Record Management System in January 2008 after an 18-month selection process. The system is used by the county police and fire departments, the county sheriff’s and state’s attorney offices and the county’s detention facilities.

The system was purchased to replace two aging computer programs installed in 1986. Ryan said the old record management software was antiquated and would have effectively stopped working on Jan. 1 due to a Y2K-style glitch.

According to a spokesman for County Executive John R. Leopold, the county put out a request for proposal July 24, 2006, and received four responses.

Ryan said representatives from his office and the five agencies that use the systems were involved in the selection process and that Tiburon received the highest marks.

The new system, which will cost $300,000 a year to maintain, was turned on at 11 p.m. Dec. 6.

Ryan said the system will let the county do more things and keep closer tabs on resources.

The new system also is based on a modern, graphic interface with windows and pull-down menus, he said. The old one was text based.

Ryan said that due to the complex nature of the new system, the county could not run the old and new systems at the same time.

“Nothing can really be run parallel. It’s got to be one way or the other,” he said, stressing that his staff did extensive testing over the past four years to make sure it would work. “We waited to get this right.”

Complaints

While police officers, 911 call takers and emergency dispatchers received between 12 and 32 hours of training on the new system earlier this year, the transition last week was far from smooth, union leaders said.

Over the weekend, complaints from officers and firefighters poured into the Maryland Gazette and the various unions. They said the system kept crashing and locking up, and lacked some of the features they had come to rely on over the past 25 years.

They new system, police and firefighters said, forces them to sift through each other’s calls to find what is happening in their area. Its graphical layout, they said, is too complicated and hard to read.

“Right now, the system can’t do what the old system did,” said Lt. Timothy Zywiolek, the president of the union representing the county’s police lieutenants. He said he likes the new reporting software, but thinks the new dispatch system is putting the county “back several years.”

Craig Oldershaw, president of the union that represents the bulk of the county’s firefighters, agreed.

“The department and the county executive have not only potentially endangered the lives of the citizens (of Anne Arundel County), but those that are there to protect them,” he said.

Among the chief concerns for county police officers contacted by the Maryland Gazette was whether the new system still lets them search an address’ prior calls for service.

Under the old system, officers had access to one year’s worth of prior calls. Several officers said the new system seemed to lack most — if not all — of that information. They feared they were going into calls “blind.”

Mulcahy said yesterday the new system offers access to 90 days worth of prior calls and all “caution notes” the department has ever amassed on a particular address. He said programers are working to make it so dispatchers can use the system to search an additional 10 months’ worth of prior calls.

While hopeful that this is true, Atkinson remained skeptical.

“I know they believe the past 90 days are in there, but I’ve heard from officers that is clearly not the case,” he said. “We rely on these computers to know what to expect.… Every bit of information we can get is good.”

Atkinson said he was heartened that the department’s brass was willing to speak with him and a member of his board about the new system. But despite the county’s apparent willingness to address concerns, Atkinson said he is not ready to support the system.

“If they can’t get it to work,” he said, “they need to pull the plug.”


<a href="http://www.mdgazette.com/content/66m-county-dispatch-system-under-fire">Maryland Gazette</a>


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