Emergency responders launch new communication tool - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Emergency responders launch new communication tool


CEDAR RAPIDS (KWWL) — The Linn County E911 Communications Board Friday announced the successful deployment of a communications system that is the first of its kind in the state. The gateway is an interconnected system that will allow first responders from public safety departments across the county to communicate with each other by radio despite having otherwise incompatible radio communications systems. The IP-based gateway will serve as the first phase of Linn County's initiative to create uninterrupted communications for public safety first responders. The new switch will allow radio users on Linn County's VHF conventional network, the City of Cedar Rapids' 800 MHz trunked network and the City of Marion's UHF conventional radio system to communicate across each others' systems.

"It is in the best interest of Linn County to have a public safety radio system with communications interoperability that allows the County Sheriff's Office, police, fire and EMS to easily communicate with each other," said James M. Houser, Chairman of the E911 Services Board and Linn County District 5 Supervisor, and early proponent of the interoperability concept in Linn County. "I am proud that Linn County is the first in the state to implement IP gateway technology which will enhance radio communication between first responders and better protect the lives of our citizens."

Linn County's new interoperability gateway consists of four Harris VIP consoles located at the Linn County Sheriff's Office, the Linn County Emergency Management Agency (EMA) office, the Cedar Rapids Police Department and the Marion Police Department. The interoperability solution provides radio users with five talk paths and will soon be upgraded to six talk paths. The gateway connects existing VHF, UHF, 700 MHz and 800 MHz systems to achieve local radio communications interoperability.

"The deployment of the state's first IP-based gateway gives radio users in Linn County a measure of interoperability among first responders that we have never before achieved," said Dave Knott, Captain, Linn County Sheriff's Office. "Different departments have used communications equipment that is incompatible because it operates on different frequency bands. Beyond helping connect public safety first responders on different radio systems, the gateways also gives the county complete compatibility with future P25 (Project 25) standards and provides a foundation to connect with additional IP-based radio networks down the road." Project 25 is a set of standards for federal, state and local public safety agencies in North America established to address the need for common digital public safety radio communications.

"Although this is a significant step in improved inter-departmental emergency communication, it is likely radio equipment will have to be upgraded in three to four years due to expected changes in Federal Communications Commission requirements," said Linn County Sheriff Brian Gardner.

Linn County will also be connected to the current RACOM statewide network, providing communication interoperability with up to 300 other agencies and 10,000 users statewide.


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