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Infrastructure That Supports Response To 911 Calls Is Getting An Upgrade

Photo caption:

Photo by WCN 24/7 / Flickr

Police car lights, November 15, 2012.

The Infrastructure That Supports The Response To Your 911 Call Is Getting An Upgrade

GUEST:

Sue Willy, communication systems manager, San Diego County Sheriff's Department

Cost per agency

Carlsbad: $1,946,133

Chula Vista: $2,976,961

Coronado: $804,224

Del Mar: $435,436

El Cajon: $2,003,895

Encinitas: $1,095,255

Escondido: $3,230,225

Imperial Beach: $524,301

La Mesa: $1,279,649

Lemon Grove: $422,106

National City: $1,270, 763

Oceanside: $3,296,874

Poway: $1,330,746

San Marcos: $1,866,155

Santee: $786,451

Solana Beach: $266,594

Vista: $1,275,206

San Diego County: $26,870,408

Imperial Valley Emergency Communications Authority: $4,385,443

Other agencies: $13,998,383

Total: $70,065,207

In a disaster, communication among first responders is key. That's why the Regional Communication System for San Diego and Imperial counties is being upgraded.

The upgrade will allow the system to accommodate more users in a disaster and will improve coverage, said Sue Willy, the communication systems manager for San Diego County Sheriff's Department.

The upgraded system will be called the Next Generation Regional Communications System. Its cost, $70 million, is being split among the agencies that use it based on the number of radios each agency has. The money won't pay for the radios, but is instead paying for the infrastructure behind the radios, Willy said.

Cities in Imperial and San Diego counties approved the upgraded system in early 2014. The initial agreement included caps on how much each agency would pay, but agencies and cities have recently been giving final approval on the amounts they are contributing.

The upgrade is necessary because the current system is no longer supported, Willy said.

The old system is based on mid-1990s technology, "so essentially you can't get parts for it anymore," she said. "Our goal is to replace the system before it comes to a point where we have communication problems."

Willy said the $70 million price tag covers a large range of agencies and users.

"The cost to replace it is because of how big the system is and how many users use it," she said.

She said users will continue on the old system while the new system is installed, so there are no interruptions in service.

The project is currently in the planning and design stage. Replacement of equipment is expected to begin in early 2018 and the system will be fully upgraded by July 2019, Willy said. It is expected to last 15 years.

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