Radio System Project Updates

UPDATE: November 12, 2019

Memorandum for Municipal Managers, Police, Fire and EMS Agencies

Motorola has brought in a new leadership team for the radio system project after issues with the original design as well as construction failures by Motorola subcontractors caused a significant delay in new system implementation. There are now between five and ten Motorola staff members working with Department of Public Safety radio system technicians out of the EOC every day. We are confident that Motorola has the right team in place to get the job done.

Consistent with technology at the time of installation, our current radio system uses hardline connections between towers and is vulnerable to rodent chews, tears during utility and street excavations, and water infiltration into cables. To remedy these problems, tower sites in the new system will be connected by wireless microwave transmitters and receivers. With this improvement comes the need for precise engineering to ensure that microwave paths between towers are perfectly unobstructed and will remain so into the future.

During Motorola’s initial testing of the new microwave paths, the Department of Public Safety was not satisfied with the dependability of the system as engineered. Motorola is contractually required to ensure 99.999% reliability for our public safety grade radio system. One concern is that while certain paths would today be operational, tree growth in the future may obstruct microwave transmissions between towers.

At our request, Motorola is now performing a comprehensive study of the 37 microwave paths that were installed to connect tower sites. We anticipate that this study should be completed in the next few weeks, and Motorola will present on the findings to us around Thanksgiving.

At a meeting with Department of Public Safety leadership on Thursday [November 7th], Motorola executives and engineers proposed the addition of a new technology to our system that will resolve some of the issues we have been experiencing, with the added bonus of increasing the new system’s resilience to storms (more resilient than the “new” system that was designed when this project first started). Our department is currently assessing this new proposal for viability and should have an update in the coming weeks.

The current timeframe, which is subject to change, is to perform acceptance testing in late spring or early summer of 2020. The Department of Public Safety is committed to ensuring that Motorola and their subcontractors meet all contractual obligations. Our emphasis to them has been to get the job done right in a timely manner. We will handle the failures of Motorola and their subcontractors later. Since our current radio system continues to age, we have required that Motorola create a disaster plan, which could be implemented in order to sustain use of the system in the unlikely event of degradation.

In the first quarter of next year, we will host a meeting in which Motorola will present on the current status of the project as well as the plan moving forward. Radio committee representatives from fire, EMS, and police will be invited.