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Upgrading S.D.’s Emergency Communication System Could Cost $100 Million

Audio

Aired 4/19/09

A report to San Diego's Regional Fire Protection Committee warns San Diego will need to spend well over $100 million in the next five years to purchase a new communication system for emergency personnel. KPBS reporter Alison St John has more.

The Regional Committee had just finished discussing the need to spend several million dollars to lease more fire fighting aircraft when the County's Emergency Services Director brought up a new and even more expensive issue .

Ron Lane says the county's communication system, which is constantly updated and worked well during the October wildfires, will become obsolete in 2013. 

Lane: As everybody knows wireless technology is changing exponentially -- there's a lot we may not even be using handhelds five or seven years from now.

Lane says the cost to acquire whatever the new wireless communication system is could be about $70 million each for the county and the city. He says San Diego has a $6.5 million dollar federal grant to start building the foundations of the future system. The goal is to have that meets national standards. But right now, Lane says, even officials at the state level are struggling to predict a technology that will allow all emergency personal around California to communicate with each other in a disaster.

Alison St John, KPBS News.

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