Sprint/Nextel settles rebanding cost dispute with
City of Boston
Dec 19, 2007 5:08 PM, By Glenn Bischoff
Sprint Nextel recently settled a dispute with the city of
Boston over whether the use of inventory-control software
that the city had purchased from MCM Technology constituted
a recoverable expense related to the reconfiguration of the
city’s 800 MHz radio system. The agreement calls for Sprint
Nextel to reimburse to the city the sum of $60,000, which
accounts for all of the costs associated with the software,
according to an attorney who represented the city in the
The city had claimed that the tracking and management
software was necessary in part because its radios had to be
touched twice during the reconfiguration process, first to
program the new channels that the system would be using
after the reconfiguration and then to remove the channels
that had been used prior to the reconfiguration.
But the FCC’s Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau
(PSHSB) rejected the claim in February 2007, stating that
the city hadn’t demonstrated the need for the second touch.
The PSHSB also opined that the city misinterpreted the
minimum number of touches required by the FCC’s original
order to complete the reconfiguration. Because no base
stations would be operating on the old channels once
rebanding was completed, the bureau determined that removing
the old channels was an unnecessary act, which by extension
made the inventory-control software an unnecessary purchase.
Robert Schwaninger, president of Schwaninger &
Associates, a Washington, D.C.-based firm that represented
the city in this case, said that regardless of the argument
over whether a second touch of the radios is justified, the
software is a legitimate expense given the cost recovery
aspects of the FCC’s rebanding order.
“This is not a glorified spreadsheet … you can actually
manage the project,” using this software, which offers an
“error-rejection” capability, Schwaninger added. “The
problem we have with the public safety guys is that they’re
not used to keeping these kinds of records.”
A Sprint Nextel spokesman said in an e-mail response that
the carrier decided to settle because of its commitment to
moving the reconfiguration process forward. “We are pleased
that Boston can now proceed with their Phase 1 rebanding,”
said spokesman Scott Sloat.
Radio World Online
Date posted: 2005-06-15
McCain Introduces Save Lives Act of 2005
Senator John McCain, R-Arizona, has introduced
legislation that would speed up when TV broadcasters would turn over
their analog spectrum after going digital so that the analog
channels may be used for emergency communications. Called the
"Spectrum Availability for Emergency-Response and Law-Enforcement to
Improve Vital Emergency Services Act," if enacted, the bill would
required TV stations to turn over their analog spectrum to the
government by Jan. 1, 2009, years sooner than currently required.
The measure would also authorize about $460
million to provide digital-to-analog converter boxes for an
estimated 9.3 million over-the-air television households that cannot
afford to buy a digital TV set.
McCain said access to this spectrum,
specifically the 24 MHz of spectrum in the 700 MHz band,
would be helpful to first responders as signals sent over these
frequencies are able to penetrate walls, travel great distances, and
assist multiple jurisdictions in deploying interoperable
"Now is the time for Congressional action
before another national emergency or crisis takes place," said
McCain referring to 9/11.
The bill would mandate warning labels be
displayed on analog television sets sold prior to the transition and
require warning language to be displayed at retailers. Brochures
describing the DTV set options would have to be available at
retailers. McCain also called on broadcasters to air informational
programs to "better prepare" consumers for the digital transition.
"The 9-11 Commission's Final Report contained
stories about police officers and fire fighters who were inside the
Twin Towers and unable to receive evacuation orders over their
radios from commanders," said McCain. "This inability to communicate
was also a problem for public safety organizations responding at the
Pentagon and Somerset County, Pennsylvania crash sites where
multiple organizations and multiple jurisdictions responded.
Therefore, the commission recommended that Congress accelerate the
availability of more spectrum for public safety."
|Plan to clear the
air for police radios hits snag
By Paul Davidson, USA TODAY
A proposed swap of airwaves to cut cell phone interference with
dozens of police and fire radio systems nationwide has been held up
by a less complex proposal from others in the industry.
The rival proposals have vexed and divided the
staff of the Federal Communications Commission as few issues have, in
part because each plan would in some ways benefit the party proposing
The impasse threatens to delay resolution of a
problem that has been hampering emergency response capabilities since
The FCC appeared headed toward approval of the
airwave swap — proposed last December by Nextel Communications and a
coalition of public-safety agencies — until Motorola and a group of
wireless companies stepped in with an alternative plan last month.
The root of the interference problem is that
frequencies used by public safety agencies, Nextel and other mobile
radio services are interlaced. As a result, the far more numerous
antenna towers Nextel uses for its cell phone service sometimes drown
out public-safety radios, resulting in "dead spots" in coverage in
several dozen cities, including Seattle and Miami.
In fall 2001, Nextel first proposed giving up
spectrum that would allow creating an interference-free public safety
block. In trade, Nextel would get contiguous airwaves in a band now
reserved for satellite phone services. Nextel agreed to pay $850
million toward costs for public safety and private carriers to
reprogram equipment or buy new gear.
But mobile phone carriers say the plan unfairly
hands Nextel prime spectrum that otherwise could be sold at auction by
the FCC for billions of dollars.
Critics of the Nextel plan also say the
spectrum swap would disrupt about half the nation's 2,200
public-safety agencies, even though interference incidents are
isolated. In addition, it would take nearly four years to complete,
and it might not fully eliminate the interference.
Last month, Motorola, which makes most
public-safety radios, told the FCC it has developed a device that can
filter out Nextel's signals while still receiving public-safety
transmissions. "We think there's a technical solution," says
Motorola's Steve Sharkey.
Public-safety agencies can get the device when
they upgrade to new radios, which could take years, or they can
retrofit existing radios. A group of wireless firms backs that plan in
tandem with stronger interference protections.
But the Association of Public-Safety
Communications Officials calls the proposal "reactive" to interference
events. And it's unclear who would pay for the upgrades under the
"You've got to fix the underlying problem,"
says Nextel's Larry Krevor. He says interference is more widespread
than critics say, and it's growing. He says only a swap can cleanly
address all the causes.
Some observers suggest Motorola may be opposing
a swap because that could open its market to rival radio makers. But
others say Motorola would benefit from equipment upgrades in either
Tewksbury gets communications equipment
By Advocate Staff
Tuesday, November 26, 2002
The Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency headquarters in
Framingham was the site of a ceremony to distribute public safety
communications equipment to over 50 Massachusetts communities on Wednesday,
Nov. 13. Scores of emergency management directors from across the
commonwealth were on hand to accept this equipment, which is valued at
$855,000, bringing the total grant money on this particular program to
$1,400,000. This equipment was secured by MEMA as part of a Department of
"The ability to better community with other communities and agencies has
been a longstanding need expressed by local public safety officials," stated
MEMA Director Stephen J. McGrail. "MEMA has been working very hard with the
Massachusetts State Police to better serve the communication needs of the
local communities during times of emergency. We feel that the addition of
this equipment goes a long way towards that end."
Tewksbury was one of the recipients.
With the exception of the Islands, each county in the commonwealth
received four caches. Nantucket and Martha's Vineyard received two caches
each. Each cache consists of six portable radios, speakers/microphones, six
spare batteries and one rack-charger, valued at almost $15,000. These caches
have been strategically placed throughout the commonwealth so that all
communities will have immediate access, should the need arise.
"Through this grant, the commonwealth is building a basic capacity for
statewide interoperable communication, allowing all public safety
first-responders to securely communicate during an emergency," stated
Secretary of Public Safety James P. Jajuga. "This is a key element of our
broader statewide commonwealth security and anti-terrorism efforts."
The communication caches will be placed across the state for operation on
ITAC repeaters (national public safety frequencies) and statewide local
public safety interoperability talkgroups. The command coordination caches
will be distributed as caches of shared equipment and stored for use by
emergency managers, fire districts and police regions statewide. At the
scene of an event, the sector chiefs, functioning under the Incident Command
System will utilize these caches.
The DOJ grant has also provided additional radio transmitters that have
been installed in more than 30 radio towers across the commonwealth at a
cost of $493,000. These transmitters work in conjunction with the 800 MHz
radio network, operated and maintained by the State Police. Colonel Thomas
J. Foley said, "Improving communications is a vital goal of this department,
and the State Police are happy to be participating in this important public
safety project. These radios will enhance communications between
departments, and literally open up a channel for local agencies to
communicate with state agencies such as MEMA and the State Police."
The Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency is the state agency
responsible for coordinating federal, state and local resources to protect
the public during disasters and emergencies. MEMA helps develop plans for
effective response to all hazards, train emergency personnel, provides
information to families and communities, and assists in recovery from
disaster losses. You can learn about MEMA by visiting the MEMA homepage at
Town gets six radios for emergencies
By Robert Aicardi / firstname.lastname@example.org
Tuesday, November 26, 2002
Braintree Emergency Management Agency (BEMA) Director Robert
Salvaggio was proud when he showed six 800mhz-type radios to the Board of
Selectmen last week.
These radios and their accessories, valued at between $14,000 and
$16,000, have been awarded to Braintree by the Massachusetts Emergency
Management Agency (MEMA).
"We have gained respect from the state," Salvaggio told the board during
its Nov. 18 meeting. "We and only two other towns on the South Shore have
received this equipment. This request was four years in the making. These
radios are intended for high echelon decision making. Each radio is like a
walkie talkie, but more sophisticated and more expensive."
Salvaggio emphasized that the new radios do not replace the equipment
BEMA already has.
"The 800mhz-type radios have been given to Braintree and will be used for
initial and mutual responses to an event having an impact on our town and/or
our neighboring towns that will allow the Fire, Emergency Management, and
Police Departments to communicate on that frequency," Salvaggio wrote in a
Nov. 13 letter to the selectmen and Executive Secretary Terri Ackerman. "We
are the caretakers of this equipment."
At Salvaggio's request, the selectmen agreed 5-0 to authorize an
agreement between BEMA, MEMA, and the State Police for the use of the
Chairman David Shaw was designated to sign this agreement on behalf of
In other business, the selectmen also agreed unanimously to allow Sunday
package store openings from noon to 9 p.m. during the holiday season (Nov.
24 to Dec. 31) and extend liquor service hours on New Year's Eve from 1 to 2
New England News
Emergency Response Officials Discuss Gaps in Terror Plan
Mass. -- Statewide plans to prevent and respond to terrorism still have
significant gaps, including mismatched radio systems and undeveloped
programs to detect biological attacks, according to state and federal
anti-terrorism officials who met here Thursday.
About 900 emergency response officials met at the
Northeast Regional Emergency Management Conference to assess progress in
preparing for terrorism.
By all accounts, the state has made significant gains
since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. But officials talked of work
that still needs to be done, the Telegram & Gazette of Worcester reported.
For instance, Boston has a new surveillance system to
monitor emergency rooms and primary care centers for systems of illness from
biological agents, but similar systems are still years from reality in other
parts of the state.
Stephen McGrail, director of the state Emergency
Management System, said the state has made major gains in matching
incompatible radio systems among emergency responders, a problem that
hampered rescue efforts at the World Trade Center.
The state has delivered 350 new radios to emergency
response coordinators around the state to link state police, the national
guard and state and federal emergency agencies.
But McGrail said that most cities and towns still have
separate radio systems for police, fire, public works and ambulance workers.
"It is obviously just the start of solving a real
problem that we face," he said, adding "technical problems and cost
problems" are still significant. (AP)
MEMA and State Police distribute Public Safety Communications
equipment to local communities.
EOPS - Press Release 11.15.2002
Framingham MA - The Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency (MEMA)
Headquarters in Framingham was the site of a ceremony to distribute Public
Safety Communications Equipment to over 50 Massachusetts communities on
Wednesday, November 13, 2002. Scores of Emergency Management Directors from
across the Commonwealth were on hand to accept this equipment, which is valued
at $855,000.00, bringing the total grant money on this particular program to
This equipment was secured by MEMA as part of a Department of Justice (DOJ)
Grant. "The ability to better to better communicate with other communities and
agencies has been a longstanding need expressed by local Public Safety
officials," stated MEMA Director Stephen J. McGrail. "MEMA has been working very
hard with the Massachusetts State Police to better serve the communications
needs of the local communities during times of emergency. We feel that that
addition of this equipment goes a long way towards that end." With the exception
of the Islands, each County in the Commonwealth received four (4) caches.
Nantucket and Martha's Vineyard received two (2) caches each. Each cache
consists of six (6) portable radios, speaker/microphones, 6 spare batteries and
one rack-charger, valued at $15,000.00 These caches have been strategically
placed throught the Commonwealth so that all communities will have immediate
access, should the need arise.
"Through this grant, the Commonwealth is building a basic capacity for Statewide
interoperable communications, allowing all Public Safety first-responders to
securely communicate during an emergency," stated Secretary of Public Safety
James P. Jajuga. "This is a key element of our broader statewide Commonwealth
Security and Anti- Terrorism efforts.
The communications caches will be placed across the state for operation on ITAC
repeaters (National Public Safety frequencies - Conventional) and Statewide
Local Public Safety interoperability Talk- Groups (Trunked). These Command
Coordination Caches will be distributed as caches of shared equipment and stored
for use by Emergency Managers, Fire Districts, and Police Regions statewide. At
the scene of an event, the Sector Chiefs, functioning under the Incident Command
System (ICS)will utilize these caches. The DOJ Grant has also provided
additional radio transmitters (Repeaters) that have been installed in more than
30 radio tower sites across the Commonwealth at a cost of $493,000.00 These
Transmitters work in conjunction with the 800 Mhz Radio network, operated and
maintained by the State Police. Colonel Thomas J. Foley said, "Improving
communications is a vital goal of this Department, and the State Police are
happy to be participating in this important public project. These radios will
enhance communications between departments, and literally open up a channel for
local agencies to communicate with state agencies such as MEMA and the State
Police". Communities Receiving Portable Radio Caches
Harwich, Bourne, Falmouth, Truro
Williamstown, Sheffield, Pittsfield, Lee
Fall River, Attleboro, Taunton, New Bedford
Amesbury, Gloucester, Andover, Peabody
Colrain, Orange, Greenfield, Deerfield
Westfield, Wilbraham, Springfield, Chicopee
Easthampton, Northampton, Hadley, Amherst
Tewksbury, Bedford, Marlboro, Melrose
Franklin, Norwood, Needham, Braintree
Marshfield, Bridgewater, Plymouth, Brockton
Leominster, Auburn, Northbridge, Shrewsbury
ITAC Frequencies and CTCSS Tones can be accessed at
transitions to IDEN
Mobile Radio Technology magazine, www.mrtmag.com,
Online Exclusive, Aug 31 2002
Md., continues to convert Motorola analog trunking systems used at airports
throughout the United States to Motorola’s integrated digital enhanced
network trunking systems. Arinc joins Nextel Communications,
Va., and SouthernLinc,
Atlanta, in the deployment of IDEN systems.
nine airports served by Arinc have begun the transition with the activiation
of one or more IDEN channels, but apparently none of the airports has made a
full conversion by switching off the last of its analog equipment.
Angeles International airport’s IDEN installation, originally scheduled for
completion at the end of September, now is slated for full conversion by
Jan. 31, 2003. At LAX, Arinc has seven 800 MHz
frequencies. With the partial conversion to IDEN, Arinc’s system now has two
IDEN channels activated. One serves as a control channel, and the other
carries six multiplexed voice channels. Of the other five channels, three
serve as combination control and analog voice channels, and the remaining
two are analog voice channels.
named its IDEN network the Digital Wireless Dispatch system, and said it
would improve its busy ground operations by expanding voice capacity by 500%
and by adding wireless data networking and direct coast-to-coast
have been running out of ground radio capacity for years, as their analog
radio systems have grown clogged with messages from expanding airport
operations, airline ground operations, security services, transportation
systems, and many on-site vendors such as fueling companies,” a statement
from Arinc reads.
obvious solution—converting to digital wireless—once appeared too expensive.
But in 2001, Arinc developed a centralized digital switching service that
replaces costly airport hardware and makes private digital wireless systems
economically feasible,” the company stated.
expects to install IDEN at 60 U.S. airports by 2005.
recently, Arinc installed IDEN at Boston Logan airport and marked the end of
the first year of installations. During this phase, the company upgraded
systems at nine airports where it owns the wireless frequencies and manages
the local capability. The airports include Boston, Newark International,
Miami International, Los Angeles International, Chicago O'Hare,
New York JFK, Dallas/Fort Worth and
The company plans to upgrade 50 more U.S. airports in three years, as
airlines ask for expanded DWD coverage.
system includes hand-held and mobile hardware that permits airline ground
personnel—such as ramp workers—to connect directly with workers at other
airports to solve service or business problems quickly. Arinc has priced DWD
dispatch service at a flat rate with no long-distance charges.
handling companies and other airport businesses can use the data-capable
iDEN hardware in their daily operations to send and receive data. The system
also permits monitoring, group messaging, and messaging priority functions
that were not possible with Arinc’s older analog technology. The company
expects to add wireless-to-telephone interconnect to allow authorized
wireless users to make telephone calls through their company's phone systems
or public telephone networks.
Digital Wireless Dispatch system is already bringing airport, airline, and
vendor operations seamlessly together—whether it's across the tarmac or
across the country," said Michael Siok, ARINC's network application
development director. "Now, better communications will mean better service
for customers and more operating efficiency for everybody. In addition, the
new system makes the best possible use of the limited existing frequencies
at the airport."
develops and operates communications and information processing systems for
the aviation and transportation industries and provides systems engineering
and integration solutions to the government and aviation. Founded to provide
reliable and efficient radio communications for the airlines, Arinc has more
than 3,000 employees worldwide with headquarters in Annapolis, Maryland.
© 2002, PRIMEDIA Business Magazines & Media Inc. All rights reserved. This
article is protected by
States copyright and other intellectual property laws and may not be
reproduced, rewritten, distributed, redisseminated, transmitted, displayed,
published or broadcast, directly or indirectly, in any medium without the
prior written permission of PRIMEDIA Business Magazines & Media Inc.
Associated Press Writer
SCHAUMBURG, Ill. (AP) -- Motorola Inc. is introducing a new mobile
communications system designed specially for firefighters, intended to
make it easier for commanders to account for personnel at emergency
Motorola said the system will provide better radio coverage on the
scene and in buildings when it becomes available next year, with future
features to include rescue tracking capability and a self-contained
The Fireground Communications System was announced Friday in
conjunction with the start of the Fire-Rescue International Conference
in Kansas City, where it is being demonstrated.
Each system radio automatically reports the user's radio ID, which
can be configured to display name, position and assignment on a mobile
A firefighter in trouble can push an emergency button that activates
an alarm on the mobile command terminal. The commander also can transmit
a signal to all radios alerting users to the presence of immediate
Motorola vice president Mike Worthington, general manager of its
Global Safety and Security Solutions division, called it a significant
step forward for firefighter safety.
Motorola is the biggest U.S. manufacturer of cell phones and other
In midday trading Friday on the New York Stock Exchange, Motorola
shares were down 44 cents at $13.09.
Motorola Inc. of Hanover, Md., won a $143,273 contract from the Army
National Guard for 800-megahertz police communication equipment.
August 6, 2002
Fire Dept. to Start Reissuing Radios Pulled Last Year
By KEVIN FLYNN
Fire Department will begin reissuing new, but controversial, handheld radios
to firefighters on Staten Island later this month and, if all goes well,
will distribute them citywide in the fall, Fire Commissioner Nicholas
Scoppetta said yesterday.
The city had pulled the radios from service in March 2001, and resumed
using older equipment, after a firefighter's call for help during a Queens
fire went unheard. But the performance of the older equipment on Sept. 11
has been criticized by some fire officers who say communication problems
that day contributed greatly to the deaths of 343 firefighters.
Many firefighters, some using radios as much as 10 years old, apparently
did not hear an evacuation order transmitted before the twin towers
collapsed, a consultant for the city has concluded.
"We've waited long enough on those radios," Capt. Peter Gorman, president
of the Uniformed Fire Officers Association, said at a news conference
yesterday during which he and other fire union leaders urged the city to
accelerate the testing of the radios. Mr. Scoppetta's announcement came
several hours later. Fire officials said the testing schedule had been set
several weeks ago and was not sped up to respond to the unions.
The new radios have passed a battery of tests at the Fire Academy, Mr.
Scoppetta said, and are being evaluated. Although they were supposed to
operate using more advanced digital technology, the radios have been
reprogrammed to operate in so-called analog mode, the same technology as the
existing models. The new radios, however, operate on UHF frequencies, not
VHF frequencies like the old models. They are believed to be better at
penetrating buildings, and the new radios are compatible with police radios.
At the end of this month, all fire companies on Staten Island will be
given the reprogrammed radios for a final eight-week test. Mr. Scoppetta
said preliminary reports from a review committee indicated that the radios
were working well.
Union officials disputed that assessment. Capt. John Dunne, who is
monitoring the testing for the fire officers union, said the radios were
just a little better than the ones currently in use, and had performed
poorly in several recent tests.
Last Saturday, he said, firefighters who responded to a drill at Chase
Manhattan Plaza in Lower Manhattan were unable to hear messages broadcast
from the basement of the building.
A spokesman for
Motorola, the company that makes
both the old and the new radios, said any communication problems on Sept. 11
or during the drills did not stem from the radios themselves. Rather, the
spokesman, John McFadden, said that any handheld radio would experience
problems operating in a high-rise building that is not equipped with a
repeater, a device that increases the signal.
Mr. Scoppetta said he was trying to have additional repeaters placed in
high-rises or to make use of similar radio equipment that the Police
Department has installed in such buildings. Police officials, whose radios
performed without problems on Sept. 11, said they were considering the
proposal to share equipment.
Even as the city presses forward with its possible solutions, officials
remain unsure what actually went wrong with firefighter communications on
Sept. 11. Initially, officials said the radios did not work well because a
repeater at the World Trade Center had not been operating. But an audiotape
of fire radio transmissions that surfaced in recent weeks has shown that the
repeater did work, at least intermittently, in the south tower.
Officials have been unable to explain why the same repeater apparently
did not work to help transmit messages in the north tower. Two evacuation
orders given in that building were not heard by many firefighters on the
upper floors, investigators have concluded.
According to several survivors, many of these firefighters did not hurry
to get out of the building because they seemed unaware of the evacuation
order and the fact that the south tower had collapsed.
"This administration has a responsibility, regardless of current fiscal
problems, to see that firefighters are properly equipped with radios that
actually work," said Stephen Cassidy, the new president of the Uniformed
August 5, 2002
Union Demands New FDNY Radios
By THE ASSOCIATED
Filed at 9:55 p.m. ET
NEW YORK (AP) -- A fire officers' union demanded Monday that the fire
department speed replacement of the handheld radios that failed during the
World Trade Center attack.
Peter Gorman, president of the Uniformed Fire Officers Association, said
the Fire Department of New York's four-month timetable for a final test on
the radios was too slow, endangering firefighters and the public.
``We can't wait that long,'' Gorman said. ``We've waited long enough on
Motorola digital radios being tested
are the same ones introduced more than a year ago, withdrawn because of
problems and replaced by analog radios before Sept. 11.
Gorman said that if the tests don't pan out, the FDNY should scrap the
radios and look for alternatives.
The UFOA represents 2,500 captains, lieutenants and battalion chiefs in
the 11,500-member department. Representatives of other fire unions also
attended the news conference.
The fire department said in a statement that it was conducting a
``thorough and comprehensive testing program'' for firefighter radios,
scheduled to end Aug. 24.
``The department is compelled to fully test these radios and make certain
that they are safe for use by firefighters,'' the statement said. ``This is
being done as quickly as possible with the overriding, paramount concern for
The department announced plans in June for a revamped radio
communications system designed to cope better with major emergencies.
The system involves upgraded versions of the digital radios that were
pulled back after an unsuccessful test run in March 2001. The Motorola
digital radios were replaced by models from the less-efficient analog
system; the analog radios proved inadequate during the trade center calamity
that took 343 firefighters' lives.
Gorman said a consultant's study is expected to show that ``virtually no
one heard'' an order to evacuate the north tower 27 minutes before the south
The 3,800 Motorola radios were part of a $14 million program to improve
communications at fire scenes, especially in high-rise buildings.
Motorola company officials said the overloaded communications network was
the real problem on Sept. 11.
``If you have 400 or 500 people trying to talk at once, it's a wonder
anyone heard the transmissions,'' said John McFadden, a company spokesman.
Monday May 6, 9:01 am Eastern Time
SOURCE: LoJack Corporation
LoJack Launches "Eye in the Sky" With Its Aviation Vehicle Recovery Program
Stolen vehicle recovery solution works from the ground up with increased use
of LoJack-equipped aviation units
WESTWOOD, Mass., May 6 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- As part of its commitment to
recovering stolen vehicles, LoJack Corporation (Nasdaq:
News) today announced the
launch of its "Eye in the Sky" aviation vehicle recovery program nationwide.
LoJack's "Eye in the Sky" program gives law enforcement officials the ability to
track auto thieves on the ground and in the air, aided by LoJack's wireless
radio frequency technology. With a national recovery rate of 90 percent,
LoJack's stolen vehicle recovery technology offers an extra layer of protection
when installed in police aviation units.
Currently police agencies in the following states are utilizing LoJack in
aviation units: Arizona, California, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Illinois,
Maryland, Michigan, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia
and Washington D.C. As a result of the recovery successes using airborne units
in these market areas, LoJack has formalized the "Eye in the Sky" program,
offering interested law enforcement departments specific training and support
for the use of LoJack radio frequency tracking in the air.
The LoJack System, the only vehicle recovery system that has direct
connections with law enforcement officials, has been aiding in the recovery of
stolen vehicles since 1986 when its wireless radio frequency-based technology
was first installed in law enforcement ground vehicles. Presently, police
agencies are rapidly installing LoJack units into helicopters and airplanes to
complement vehicle patrols and expand the ability to quickly track stolen
vehicles and commercial equipment.
"We have found LoJack to be an extremely effective tool to recover stolen
vehicles," said Captain Mike Hillmann, Commanding Officer, Los Angeles Police
Department Air Support Division, which equips fourteen helicopters with the
LoJack system. "We are able to cover a great deal of terrain, identify, track
and recover stolen vehicles quickly and efficiently."
The National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) reports that after a ten-year
decline, auto thefts are on the rise once again. LoJack's vehicle recovery
system has a 90 percent recovery rate, and its addition of the "Eye in the Sky"
aviation safety measures will contribute to the system's success. LoJack's
aviation vehicle recovery program gives law enforcement officials more freedom
in the tracking of stolen vehicles, undeterred by the restrictions of ground
travel, such as congestion in metropolitan areas.
"We are pleased that law enforcement teams nationwide are finding value in
the LoJack solution," said Ron Rossi, Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of
the Board of LoJack Corporation. "Our patented wireless radio frequency
technology has proven to be the best method for recovering stolen vehicles, on
the ground and in the air."
The patented LoJack system includes a small transceiver that is hidden on the
body of the vehicle. When the vehicle is reported stolen, silent radio signals
are emitted from this radio transceiver and the police are able to follow the
signal to locate the property.
LoJack Corporation is the recognized world leader in stolen vehicle recovery
technology. In the U.S., its stolen vehicle recovery system, utilized by law
enforcement agencies, has maintained more than a 90 percent successful recovery
rate during the sixteen years it has been available to the consumer. The LoJack
System operates coast-to-coast in 20 states and the District of Columbia,
representing the areas of the country with the greatest population density,
highest number of new vehicle sales and incidents of vehicle theft. In addition,
LoJack is operated by law enforcement and security organizations in more than 20
countries in Europe, Africa, Asia and North and South America.
SOURCE: LoJack Corporation
|FDNY Revamps Radio System
Associated Press Writer
NEW YORK (AP) -- The New York fire department is rolling out a
revamped radio system to better handle emergencies such as the World
Trade Center attack, which left many rescuers struggling to communicate.
``The communication was horrible and there's no disputing that,'' said Tom
Manley, health and safety officer for the firefighters' union. ``You didn't get
the necessary transmissions being heard. Some people heard, some people
City officials have attributed part of the problem to the destruction of
equipment called repeaters, which boost radio signals. The repeaters were
mounted high in the trade center and in commanders' cars to amplify and
retransmit signals. They were destroyed when the hijacked planes struck the
buildings and debris crushed the vehicles below.
Firefighter unions said that long-standing radio problems in high-rise
buildings also played a role.
Both say the new, $14 million system appears better suited to situations that
could have hundreds of personnel from different agencies performing complex
operations at great personal risk.
The handheld Motorola radios being tested for a late-summer debut operate at
higher frequencies better able to penetrate concrete and steel than the radios
in use Sept. 11, company and fire officials say.
They are expected to be augmented by new repeaters in 60 high-rise buildings,
and radio antennas in subway tunnels, where firefighters also have long had
Unlike the models they replace, the new radios are compatible with police,
Office of Emergency Management and other city systems.
At ground zero on Sept. 11, one emergency official who did not have a fire
department radio could not broadcast an alert that the north tower was in danger
of collapsing. Instead, he had to send a subordinate racing across the trade
center plaza to hand-deliver the message to a fire chief inside.
``Nine-eleven, of course, highlights some of the communication difficulties
that we had,'' fire department spokesman Frank Gribbon said. ``We sort of knew
all of this prior to 9/11, but after that event you see how critically important
The new radios can be programmed to operate on dozens of radio channels,
preventing the fire department's usual single fire-scene channel from being
congested during a large-scale incident such as the trade center attack.
The radios also allow firefighters in distress to alert others by hitting an
emergency button instead of transmitting ``Mayday'' orally.
By Andrew M. Seybold
15 April 2002
What If the FCC Held an Auction and No One Came?
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has decided to auction the
spectrum now occupied by TV Channels 52-69 (the "700-MHz band"). Some of this
spectrum has been set aside for public safety, which sorely needs new spectrum,
and part has been allocated as "guard bands" that protect the public safety
spectrum from interference. The rest will be up for grabs on a nationwide basis.
The FCC has delayed this auction five times and the Cellular Telecommunications
and Internet Association (CTIA), National Telecommunications and Information
Administration (NTIA---the folks who control the government portion of the
spectrum) and several members of congress have indicated that they are in favor
of a sixth delay. President Bush did not include income from this auction in his
budget until 2004. So what is going on at the FCC?
It appears that the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) is running the
show---or at least thats what any rational person would be led to believe under
the circumstances. Lets take a look at the how things stand:
1) Broadcasters that have licenses on these TV channels, which they got for
free, wont be required to move off of the spectrum until 2006 or until 85% of
their potential viewing public has embraced HDTV (High-Definition TV).
2) Broadcasters have crafted a way in which access to this spectrum could be
sped up: The winners of the auction could pay broadcasters to vacate the
3) There are several plans on the table to shuffle spectrum in the 800-MHz
range because there have been some interference problems to existing public
safety systems caused by others in the band. One such plan calls for relocating
all of the 800-MHz public safety users down into the 700-MHz band---a proposal
that makes a lot of sense.
4) There is a new task force made up of the NTIA, FCC and various other
groups to examine all spectrum requirements and existing allocations in order to
come up with a workable plan that will satisfy all existing and potential users.
This group has just begun its work and this is something that is long overdue.
So why the rush to auction this spectrum? Why not leave it on the table so it
can be included in a new spectrum plan? The military doesnt want to give up 1700
MHz, the wireless industry needs "new" spectrum and the best choice might be
some spectrum in the 15002300-MHz range that is compatible with the rest of the
world. For the first time, there is a coordinated effort to review all of this
spectrum and to try to come up with a long-range plan instead of continuing
"business as usual"---which means auctioning the 700-MHz spectrum regardless of
any long-term plans.
If this auction moves forward as planned, the "winners" will pay billions of
dollars for the privilege using the spectrum, only to have to work out deals
with existing TV broadcasters to pay them billions more to vacate their channels
earlier than 2006 or beyond. The only conclusion one can draw is that the FCCs
tail is being wagged by something other than logic.
One reason being cited for holding the auction is "homeland security" and the
public safety communitys desperate need for spectrum. They do need spectrum and
they need it badly, but does that mean we should give them 24 MHz of spectrum in
the 700-MHz band? The rest of their spectrum is spread out over the entire
two-way radio band. In California, for example, the Highway Patrol operates on
44 MHz and county and city public safety agencies operate systems at 150 MHz,
450 MHz, 470 MHz and 800 MHz! Its just as bad in the rest of the nation. Now is
the time to think about what the public safety community really needs and find a
way to make it happen.
For years I have been saying that if we could "find" a big enough chunk of
spectrum for public safety we could have state-of-the-art systems that would
enable federal, state and local public safety agencies to share spectrum that is
contiguous and to allocate it in real time when there is a disaster---local,
regional or national. As it stands today, cellular and PCS are the only common
operating channels for public safety. They dont provide priority access and they
dont provide the one-to-many capabilities needed by public safety agencies.
Perhaps FCC members should spend a Friday night riding in a DC police car and
gain some understanding of what is needed. It is imperative for one car to hear
what is going on around it, for the dispatcher to be able to send multiple
vehicles to a scene quickly and for all of those in an area to be able to hear
the report from the first officer on the scene. Likewise, fire personnel need to
be directed into a fire. Consider five engines responding to a fire. The officer
in charge must be able to direct each engine into the response---some to
hydrants, some to rescue activities and some to attack the fire. It is also
important that all of those responding to the fire know what the others are
doing and where they are.
During the two biggest major disasters of our time---the Oklahoma Bombing and
September 11---a major impediment to the coordination of public safety
activities was that most personnel were unable to communicate with each other
without having an already overloaded dispatcher relay commands or by competing
for connections over the overloaded commercial phone systems. Valuable time was
lost and perhaps additional lives because there is no system for the various
agencies to communicate effectively with each other.
We have an opportunity to correct this problem and at the same time establish
a national spectrum policy. Some changes would be required and some services
would have to be relocated. These changes could be funded by auctions held after
the decisions have been made. But the FCC is in a rush to auction 84 MHz of
spectrum that wont be usable until at least 2006 unless winning bidders are
willing to cough up additional big bucks. Why are TV broadcasters entitled to a
windfall for moving off spectrum they didnt pay for?
How to Solve the Problem
This wont work and I know it, but its a great thought What if the FCC held
the auction and no one showed up? What if every company interested in the
spectrum stayed home and refused to play the game? It would certainly send a
message to the FCC that the industry is fed up with the irrational manner in
which this limited resource is being handled by the government agency that is
supposed to be managing it.
Or what if all of the potential bidders got together as a group and bid the
very minimum permitted by auction rules? This group would then "own" the
spectrum (which can be used for anything other than TV) and could determine its
best use. We could call this new organization the WCC---the "Wireless
Communications Consortium"---and it would work with other spectrum holders to
figure out swaps and seize control of a significant portion of the spectrum from
If the FCC cant be trusted to manage our spectrum in a manner that takes into
account all of those who want and need it, perhaps its time to send a strong
message: Business as usual---bending to organizations with a vested interest in
the decisions---wont cut it anymore. Years ago the Republicans floated an idea
to disband the FCC. I was against it at that time as I believed we needed a
regulatory body to ensure that all interests were served. I have to admit that
if they floated that idea again today, I would be tempted to agree---and help
make it happen!
Andrew M. Seybold <email@example.com>
Motorola Press Release on NH Statewide Digital Plans
Installation of New Hampshire Statewide Motorola
Communications System Nearing Completion
Digital Communications Project Slated to be Completed in June 2002
|CONCORD, N.H., March 7, 2002 - The State of New Hampshire
is forging ahead with plans to implement a fully integrated statewide
Motorola VHF Conventional ASTRO® digital communications system. Staging for
the $13.3 million system was completed in June 2001 and installation of key
components began in late July with a targeted completion date of June 2002.
New Hampshire was the first public safety agency to beta test Motorola's
Project 25 VHF ASTRO technology in 1996. After testing and refining the
system for more than a year, New Hampshire's Department of Safety signed a
contract with Motorola to implement the technology for the New Hampshire
Division of State Police.
The Division of Fish and Game, State Liquor Commission and Department of
Resource and Economic Development have followed, upgrading their
communications to VHF ASTRO. The State is currently under contract with
Motorola to deploy this same technology into the 10 county dispatch centers,
enabling local municipalities to upgrade their operations to the ASTRO
"Digital technology invented the word 'interoperability,'" said Executive
Major Fred Booth of the New Hampshire Division of State Police. "A
capability that proved absolutely necessary after a shooting incident in
northern New Hampshire brought into the spotlight the inability for varying
state agencies to communicate."
Due to limited access to frequency spectrum, many New Hampshire
municipalities and public safety agencies used the same radios and shared
the same frequencies, making effective communication very difficult -
especially in emergency situations. Additionally, prior technologies did not
offer an integrated voice and data solution.
After researching options and emerging technologies, New Hampshire state
officials looked to Motorola and its innovative Project 25 VHF ASTRO
solution to achieve an effective digital platform. The challenge, explained
Major Booth, was that no other state public safety agency had embarked on
such a comprehensive communications upgrade.
"We had no other public safety division to emulate...model our process
after," said Major Booth. "We had to forge our own path using the crawl,
walk, run principle. Right now, we are walking strong."
The new public safety communications system will include the deployment of
approximately 1,500 ASTRO Spectra® mobile radios, 1400 XTS3000TMModel
II portable radios and 40 Gold Series EliteTMCRT Consoles. State
public safety municipalities will have integrated voice and data capability
on the new ASTRO backbone. All console positions in the system will be
connected to an Embassy Switch, or audio switching control, housed in the
State's Capitol to ensure seamless interoperability between all agencies for
wide area communications, disaster or major incident response.
"The New Hampshire Department of Safety's pioneering spirit has helped
define a strategic process to build an integrated communications
infrastructure from top to bottom," said Ken Denslow, Corporate Vice
President and General Manager of the Northern Sales Division of Motorola,
Inc. "Their willingness to embrace new technology and build consensus and
cooperation between state, local and country governments to meet their
communications goals will provide other states an effective model to
Motorola, Inc. (NYSE: MOT) is a global leader in providing integrated
communications and embedded electronic solutions. Sales in 2001 were $30
For more information contact:
Executive Major, NH State Police
$57.4M budget passes at TM
By Judy Powell / Correspondent
Monday, March 18, 2002
WESTBOROUGH - With pleas for fiscal restraint from the Advisory
Finance Committee heeded, residents at Saturday's annual Town Meeting passed
a $57.4 million budget that brings taxpayers within $340,000 of the levy
The 14 percent increase over last year's budget followed weeks of
negotiations between town departments and Finance Committee members, who
urged a curb in spending to avoid reaching Proposition 21/2 tax capacity.
"Excess levy capacity is a crucial indicator of our town's financial
viability in the bond market," said board Chairman Leigh Emery.
"It gives us leeway to fund union contracts not yet concluded, and
shields Westborough from the potential effects of decreases in state aid and
local receipts in future years," she said.
The new budget, resulting in a tax rate of $14.65 per thousand valuation,
was approved with minimal discussion during the first of a two-day session.
Of particular interest to many residents were School Department expenses,
already reduced by $700,000 from an original $30 million target.
Under pressure from the Finance Committee to trim it further, the School
Committee agreed at a recent meeting to eliminate a second assistant
principal position at the Mill Pond School along with bathroom modifications
at Armstrong School.
Still $100,000 above the board's recommendation, Emery accepted the $29.2
million school budget saying the School Committee had negotiated in "good
"We felt it was better to go in with an agreement before the town rather
than argue the additional $100,000," she said after the meeting.
Renovation borrowing OK'd
With the scent of fresh paint and new upholstery lingering in the air of
the recently completed auditorium, voters readily approved borrowing
$800,000 in additional construction money to be used at the high school.
School Building Committee Chairman Stephen Doret said the borrowing is
exempt from the provisions of Proposition 21/2, and is needed to offset bids
that came in higher than originally planned.
The $43.4 million building project was passed at a November 1999 Town
Meeting and is scheduled for completion this summer.
"This committee has tried to save every penny it can while holding the
contractor to a quality standard," he told residents. "We have done
everything possible to reduce the cost of the project."
Doret also pointed out to applause from residents that the Mill Pond
School continues to run on budget at $26.2 million. The fourth, fifth and
sixth grade facility is scheduled to open on time this fall.
During the eight-hour session, residents voted for 35 articles in line
with Finance Committee recommendations, leaving seven articles for
The articles approved included $18,000 for a half-ton pick up truck for
Town Hall custodian use; $9,000 for sandblasting and painting the wrought
iron fence at Memorial Cemetery, $53,000 for improvements at the public
library; $90,000 to purchase land at the corner of Nourse and Glen streets
for possible cemetery use; $50,000 to develop ball fields at the state
hospital property; and $75,000 for three police vehicles and related
In addition, the town authorized borrowing $750,000 for improvements at
the Westborough Wastewater Treatment Plant, about 60 percent of which will
be reimbursed by Shrewsbury and Hopkinton. They also OK'd spending $450,000
to build a new office building for the Department of Public Works; $900,000
to replace the HVAC system at Fales Elementary School; $363,000 for an
emergency communications system for the fire and police departments;
$150,000 for a new ambulance; and $45,000 to research constructing a
maintenance storage shed at the country club.
A property-rezoning request debated at the end of the meeting was the
only article defeated despite Finance Committee recommendations that it be
Article 36 asked the town to rezone from residential to highway business
a parcel of land located on Lyman Street, north of Burger King.
The 7.35-acre lot is owned by David A. Brossi Limited Partnership,
Framingham developers who want to put an office building on the site.
In an 83-68 vote, residents defeated the article as recommended by the
Planning Board until a Town Master Plan is completed.
Arguing that the town would benefit financially from locating a business
rather than three single-family homes on the site, John Matson, an attorney
for the Brossi family, requested re-examining the article at Town Meeting
when it resumes tonight in the high school auditorium at 7.
New police network a show of force
Private security agencies, parking lot attendants and RIPTA bus
drivers are being recruited to tip the police quickly to crime downtown.
BY GREGORY SMITH
Journal Staff Writer
PROVIDENCE -- Mayor Vincent A. Cianci Jr. yesterday
announced the creation of a security network that would have private and
state government security forces work more closely with the city police to
fight crime downtown.
The network's primary component is the dedication of a radio channel to be
used by the security forces and the police to share information as quickly
as possible to deter crime and apprehend wrongdoers.
Police Chief Richard T. Sullivan said the goal is to have "more eyes and
ears" helping the police.
For example, he said that if the Downtown Providence Security Network, as it
will be called, functions well, a description of a suspect could be
broadcast more widely more quickly.
At any given time of day, perhaps 100 people will be in the network,
including Rhode Island Public Transit Authority drivers, poised to report
trouble to the police, according to Daniel A. Baudouin, executive director
of the Providence Foundation.
Twenty-four government agencies and private organizations as varied as
Metropark, which operates parking lots, and the Roger Williams University
security department have agreed to participate so far, and the effort begins
The rationale is to make downtown as pleasant a place as possible for people
to do business, visit and live.
Cianci said at the announcement in his office, "Remember, no amount of urban
revitalization, no amount of money spent, no amount of building
refurbishings and construction is going to be effective if people have a
perception that it's not safe to come downtown, or that a nice evening in
the city has to be accompanied by offensively loud radios, squealing tires
and rude behavior on the part of bar or nightclub patrons."
The network was conceived by the Police Department and the Providence
Foundation, which is a consortium of businesses and universities whose
primary mission is downtown redevelopment.
"It's a very proactive approach to community policing," the chief said
later. "It's a more sophisticated kind of a [neighborhood] crime watch."
"Community policing" is a concept based on the "broken windows theory,"
which says that diligent enforcement of laws against minor infractions
discourages more serious crimes by sending the message that the community
cares and is in control.
Cianci and Sullivan described the network as a pilot program that they would
like to extend to the residential and commercial districts throughout
Providence, enlisting crime watch and neighborhood organizations.
Not mentioned at the announcement were other ambitious ideas that have been
discussed by network planners, including the use of "Webcams" and the
linkage of private surveillance cameras with police cameras. Sullivan said
those ideas can be taken up in planners' future meetings.
With a "Webcam," or a computer-linked camera, there could be 24-hour display
of video surveillance of parking lots and other locations over the
Internet's World Wide Web.
The mayor and the chief stressed the utility of the network in tackling
quality-of-life violations rather than preventing high-profile crimes such
as murder, although they said there could be an indefinable deterrence for
more serious crimes.
Sullivan said the city wants the private sector to be in closer touch with
the police because "real-time information" is more valuable. Those private
interests won't be expected to change their security practices for the sake
of the network, he said.
However, Daniel A. Baudouin, executive director of the Providence
Foundation, said the hope is that businesses and government agencies will be
"We're hoping that part of the [private] patrol routine can be to go out and
look at the sidewalk" and to be more aware of what is happening at the
perimeters of a security force's area of responsibility, Baudouin said.
At the same time, officials stressed that they are not deputizing security
guards for the purposes of making arrests.
Guards will be expected to communicate what they see and hear to their
supervisors or dispatchers, who would be responsible for judging its
importance and, if warranted, reporting it on the special radio channel. The
telephone would be used for less important reports, such as an auto break-in
when no suspect is in the vicinity.
The network, Cianci said, probably will make private security personnel more
visible to the public.
Among the network's priorities, he said, are improving street and building
lighting and "increasing police and private security presence downtown in a
collective show of force."
Although aspects of the network are inspired by a program in Portland, Ore.,
the concept is not entirely new to Providence.
For years, Amtrak police have been able to communicate with city police by
radio. And Sullivan recalled the "Eye Watch" program dating to the early
1990s in which the drivers of radio-equipped RIPTA buses were encouraged to
call in tips about trouble or crime.
Some of the cooperating entities have bought or plan to buy new
communications equipment to participate in the network, city officials said,
but the city does not expect to have to spend any money.
Who is using APCO 25 (unknown as to where this story came from
but my guess is Motorola)
If there still were any questions that Project 25 technology has been proven
and that compliant systems are available for public-safety applications today,
users answered those questions in the last 12 months. This past year saw
increasing numbers of agencies at every level - local, state, provincial and
federal - implement, buy or plan for Project 25-compliant systems.
The State of Michigan will become the first in the country to install a
digital Project 25-compliant trunked communications system.Michigan's second
phase implementation will extend the statewide system to the southwestern and
western parts of the state, including Battle Creek, Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo,
Holland and St. Joseph. At the same time, the system's first phase will be
upgraded to include Project 25 trunking, common air interface and encryption.
Michigan is only one recent Project 25 story. The State of New Hampshire was an
early Project 25 supporter, choosing a Motorola ASTRO conventional digital
40 other government entities also have made the move to Project 25 compliant
conventional systems including Yonkers, New York, and Branford, Connecticut.
Correctional Service Canada, the department that manages the Canada's federal
correctional facilities, is replacing communications systems in 28 facilities
with new ASTRO conventional digital VHF systems that are compliant with the
Project 25 standard Sarasota County, Florida, became the first to dedicate one
of those systems last October. The cities of Baltimore, Maryland, Cedar Rapids,
Iowa, and Vicksburg, Mississippi, along with the counties of Calhoun and
Talladega in Alabama, Jefferson Parish in Louisiana, Fairfax County in Virginia
and San Diego County in California moved ahead with installation of their new
Motorola digital trunked communications systems, each of which will comply with
the Project 25 common air interface. MTS Mobility, a subsidiary of Manitoba
(Canada) Telecom Services, announced in January it will extend the company's
Motorola trunked communications system provincewide. Compliant with the Project
25 common air interface, the system will support the company's FleetNet™
service, an enhanced, trunked radio-dispatch network, providing users one-to-one
or one-to-many wireless communications. Among other customers, the MTS Mobility
FleetNet service will support the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and the Winnipeg
Police Service. San Francisco contracted in October for a new ASTRO digital 800
MHz trunked radio communications system, compliant with the Project 25 common
air interface. The system is part of the city's overall upgrade to a new
enhanced 9-1-1 system with completion targeted for 2000. The San Francisco
system will consolidate the city's nine existing radio communications systems
into one new system. Motorola will design and manufacture the new mixed-mode
analog and digital radio system, providing the software and hardware components
for a new communications infrastructure and 1,000 mobile radios and 3,000
portable radios. The City of Los Angeles selected Motorola to design and
manufacture a new Project 25-compliant conventional radio system for the Los
Angeles Police Department. The ASTRO system will be a UHF, 57-channel, digital,
wide-area, simulcast system and be specifically engineered for the city's varied
terrain. The Federal Bureau of Investigation contracted in April for 500 new
mobile radios that we intend to migrate to compliance with the Project 25
standard. The mobile radios, called ASTRO™ Seneca™, will be designed and
manufactured through an alliance between Motorola and Harris Corp. The ASTRO
Seneca digital platform will enable a mobile user to incorporate all of the
latest and planned future data capabilities, such as remote data base access,
imagery transmission, fingerprint identification and position and location
tracking. The FBI intends to replace approximately 12,000 radios over the next
four and a half years. As the Project 25 standard continues to evolve, Motorola
is continuing its work to develop compliant technologies. As everyone involved
in the Project 25 process looks back over all that has been accomplished, we can
share a tremendous pride in our achievement. The digital communications
standard, the technologies to support it, and the systems public-safety users
wanted that used them have come together. The result is public-safety
professionals now have the systems they knew they would need to manage the
challenges of the 21st century.
Open access to police communications is vital
progress as planned, pretty soon residents of the Seacoast, state and region
will hear no evil — at least not from their police scanners.
As we reported
on Sunday, police departments all over the state are switching to a digital
radio system that will, as it stands now, prevent the general public from
hearing law enforcement information over the traditional, commercially
manufactured radio scanners. The goal, from the viewpoint of law enforcement,
is to develop an integrated communications system that will allow police to
talk freely with their counterparts in far-flung locations.
support this move to integrate communications. It is vital in these post-Sept.
11 days that law enforcement officials be able to get in contact with each
other in the event of a major emergency.
In addition to
developing an integrated system, however, the switch to digital will preclude
anyone who is not part of the law enforcement community — or who has not been
given access to its communications — from tuning into police conversations.
While it is important to keep criminals in the dark concerning police matters,
the new system will also pull the plug on those who either enjoy listening to
the activities in the streets of their communities via their scanners or who
need access to this information for independent oversight purposes.
a digital format will deny the public any information that law enforcement
officials do not want to share. It could make law enforcement a closed
community and, in doing so, open the system to abuses.
Police in some
Seacoast towns have already curtailed information available to the public when
it involves data secured from the state Department of Motor Vehicles. A law
passed by the state Legislature two years ago sought to prevent personal
information contained in that department's records from being openly
distributed, and some local police departments have used this law as an excuse
not to give out information concerning individuals involved in motor-vehicle
accident, fraud or theft cases.
In a free
society, which is what America still professes to be even in the wake of the
terrorist attacks in September, public oversight of public functions is a
necessity. Without that oversight, an agency — any agency, federal, state or
local — can do what it wishes including abuse its powers by diminishing
particularly true in the area of law enforcement, where agency powers are
extensive and far-reaching. We have already seen the kinds of abuses law
enforcement is capable of in some of the major cities in our country.
We are not
saying we lack trust in our local police departments; they represent, in many
cases, the thin line that separates us from those who would do us harm.
However, it is important that the activities of those departments be open to
public scrutiny so abuses that could stem from an atmosphere of secrecy do not
We urge the
development of digital scanners and, in the meantime, ask local police
departments to make available equipment that can convert digital transmissions
back into voice communications for private, law-abiding citizens and the
press. This equipment should not be supplied free of charge or to people with
criminal histories, but it should be available in order to assure the public
that law enforcement is, indeed, following the laws it is sworn to uphold.
Kevin Noseworthy, a Portsmouth police dispatcher, works at the
Emergency Communication Center where computers are digitally linked to
police cruisers in the field.
All will soon be quiet on police scanner front
By Michelle Firmbach,
PORTSMOUTH — The traditional police
scanner, a familiar tool for emergency workers, fire buffs and journalists,
is going silent.
Portsmouth Police Dispatch is converting to a digital communications
"You will hear nothing," said Gil Emery, communications supervisor of the
Portsmouth Dispatch Center. "You will hear squelch, static."
A federal grant of more than $1 million will provide the funding to
convert outdated existing radios systems from analog to digital, thereby
allowing the department to communicate with law enforcement statewide.
Portsmouth Police Chief Brad Russ said the grant would allow the
department to upgrade its 12-year-old Emergency Communications Center and
provide the latest digital technology to its officers. The system's backbone
is maintained by State Police.
The pursuit of gunman Carl Drega along the Vermont-New Hampshire border
five years ago was limited by outdated police radios. That incident, coupled
with the shortfalls identified in the anti-terrorism exercises performed in
Portsmouth last year, demonstrates the need for technological improvements.
The new system is designed to impede the crooked methods of criminals
tuned into police business and to increase the efficiency of information
sharing by rooting out the "dead zones" and providing clear sound.
"The bad guy can't pull an alarm and see how long it takes for us to get
there," Emery said.
Digital radios convert voice to 1's and zeros and transmit to other
radios over a channel via microwave links. The numbers are then converted
back into voice. The mobile components may also be used like a computer to
transmit data from one cruiser to another or back to the dispatch center.
"It is a very crisp, clean sound," Emery said. "It sounds like a cellular
phone. We will be able to hear the field units better."
There is currently no manufacturer producing a digital police radio
scanner. Therefore, the public will seldom hear police business. Instead,
static will be left in the place of voice and only limited information will
be transmitted over the analog system.
"When we go digital, scanner land will never be able to hear us," Emery
said. "They are not going to hear Portsmouth police anymore. Until someone
designs a scanner that can copy digital transmission, all they will hear is
But, Russ said he would allow transmission of regular radio traffic in
analog so the public could listen in even after the department goes
"I don't want to cut reporters and the public out of the loop," Russ
said. "They can be very helpful. What we would include are things like an
assault and the suspect is fleeing in a silver car. On occasion, we have
people who call on a cell phone and say I am following that car right now.
What we would exclude are things like an alarm at a building where a burglar
might have a scanner."
The $1 million grant is in addition to $7 million secured by the Criminal
Justice Information Systems Committee as seed funding. That $7 million was
earmarked to provide the statewide infrastructure for the new digital
microwave communications upgrade and to convert police cruisers statewide to
new multichannel, multifrequency radios.
Of the $7 million, Portsmouth received $160,000, which paid for 46 radios
equipped with about 126 channels. Thirty-six channels will be unique to
individual communities and the remaining 90 will be standardized statewide.
Each individual community is responsible for the purchase of portable
radios and the conversion of dispatch centers. The $1 million to Portsmouth
will allow for the purchase of 100 new radios at a price tag of about $3,000
and five new dispatch consoles at about $30,000 a piece.
The local public will pay only for the construction of the new dispatch
"The construction for the new dispatch center will be in the capital
budget," Russ said, "but we don't know what the exact costs will be until
the architect provides the council with a report on Dec. 17."
The $1 million grant funding was earmarked in a fiscal year 2002 Justice
Department appropriations bill, which moved forward under the guidance of
U.S. Sen. Judd Gregg, R-N.H., a ranking member of the Senate Appropriations
In May 2000, the Justice Department initiated a test of how prepared the
Seacoast is for large-scale attacks by terrorists using weapons of mass
destruction. Portsmouth was the only small community involved in the major
role-playing exercise. Similar mock attacks, involving biological agents,
radiation and cyber-hacking, also took place in Washington, D.C., and Denver
at exactly the same time.
The Justice Department's domestic preparedness office administered the $6
million exercise, dubbed "Top Off," to test the readiness of top local
officials in the Seacoast region, and the state and federal government.
"We wanted to fix any problems in an exercise as opposed to waiting for
the real event to find out if we have any gaps in our response," Russ said.
When police were pursuing gunman Carl Drega along the five years ago,
their efforts to apprehend the New Hampshire man, who shot and killed four
people, including two New Hampshire state troopers, were hampered by
outdated police radios that prevented state and federal authorities from
effectively coordinating their efforts, Russ said.
"They were all on different frequencies," he said. "If someone has a
piece of information that is vital, but can't get quickly to everyone, it
can be a significant public safety issue."
The transmission range is limited, Russ added.
"If you're chasing someone or you are up in the mountains of New
Hampshire, as they were, or you are out of range on a portable radio, you
are not able to speak to your own personnel," Russ said.
Since that tragic shooting, U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., has secured
more than $5.2 million in federal funds for new law enforcement
communications equipment and a mobile operations unit, which were unveiled
at State Police headquarters in Williston in May. A component of the new
system includes a link to New Hampshire's law enforcement communications
Similar to that of New Hampshire, the Vermont Interoperability Project
will allow Vermont State Police to communicate with other federal state and
local law enforcement agencies. During the Drega shootout, Vermont and New
Hampshire officers had to jury-rig the communications system by parking two
police cruisers next to each other to coordinate activities among the
different agencies on the scene because their radios operated on different
After the Drega incident, Sens. Gregg and Leahy worked together to add $1
million to the 1998 Department of Justice budget bill for the development of
a state-of-the-art, cross-border communications mechanism between the two
The Portsmouth Fire Department will remain on the analog system, mostly
because of the fact other Seacoast communities will not be converted. And by
using the digital radios, the department would cut off dialogue with other
local stations, which is vital to incident response.
"One of the benefits of digital is security," said Portsmouth Acting Fire
Chief Chris Leclaire. "That is why the police want it, but people can't
listen in on them. With us, a lot of our mutual aid depends on
communication. We talk to each other on primary frequencies and mutual aid
frequencies. The departments listen to the information on the way in. The
departments around us need to know what we are doing. They need to know the
status of the incident they are responding to."
Some also feel the digital radios are less efficient inside tall
"If we have firefighters operating inside the building, we need everybody
to be able to hear each other," Leclaire said.
Leclaire said the Fire Department would evaluate the new digital system
being installed at the Police Department and may consider the purchase of
radios with dual capability at a later date.
Gregg will personally present the grant to Russ at 2:15 p.m. on Monday,
Dec. 10, in City Council chambers. The award is the largest single grant in
the history of the Portsmouth Police Department.
Russ said law enforcement officers in the Granite State are privileged to
have Gregg as a strong advocate in Congress.
"He is a tremendous advocate for law enforcement and public safety," Russ
said. "We're very fortunate to have him in the Senate. This is not the first
grant he has helped push through."
Town radio system on tap for year-end
Tuesday, November 27, 2001
By Mary Anne Magiera
Telegram & Gazette Staff
HOLDEN-- Despite a dip in the economy, getting money for a new,
state-of-the art public safety communications system has turned out to be the
It was the lengthy federal licensing process, protracted negotiations with
a wireless equipment installer, and finally, a leaking water tower tank that
have tested the perseverance of town officials.
“It has really been a learning process,” said Police Chief George R.
Sherrill. As it turns out, he said, “a new public safety radio system is just
not something you can buy off the shelf and put into operation.”
After nearly three years of preparation, a new, more efficient
ultra-high-frequency radio communications system is expected to be working by
the end of December, according to Dennis J. Lipka, director of growth
management. Mr. Lipka is handling the final step of the project -- negotiations
with the equipment installer, Sprint Corp., over who pays for what.
At a cost of $275,000, the new system is the town's largest capital project
for public safety in recent years. The new equipment will be made available to
the police, fire, public works and municipal light departments.
“The new system will give us a major, major boost in our ability to get
connected and stay connected,” said Town Manager Brian J. Bullock. The new
equipment will eliminate many of the dead spots that now plague the 18-year-old
“low-band” network, he said.
“In this era, for public safety personnel not to be in constant
communication could be life-threatening,” Mr. Bullock said.
The money to pay for the system will come from a reserve created by setting
aside a portion of the money the town receives annually from the Wachusett Area
Emergency Services Fund. One of 11 towns included in the fund, Holden has
received $48,000 to $68,000 a year since 1994.
The Wachusett fund was established by the former Medical Center of Central
Massachusetts when it bought and then closed Holden Hospital. A court-filed
negotiated agreement calls for payouts to be made annually to the towns whose
residents received emergency services at Holden Hospital.
The need for a new communications system was first highlighted in the
spring of 1998, when all three candidates for the then-vacant police chief's job
listed it as their top priority during interviews with the town manager.
“We all had been working with the system. ... There are instances where
officers could see each other, but not talk to each other. It had become a
citizen safety issue,” said Chief Sherrill, who was one of the three candidates.
Holden police can no longer talk to other area police departments or the state
police because most have moved to the high-frequency systems, he noted.
Shortly after becoming chief in the summer of 1998, Chief Sherrill began to
research equipment. Then came the Federal Communication Commission license
“There is no priority given to public safety departments. We had to get in
line along with everybody else who wanted a license. The process took over a
year,” Chief Sherrill said.
Eventually, the project moved forward. In February, the Board of Selectmen
approved an expenditure from the Wachusett fund. The FCC license was approved
and equipment was purchased. One of the relay towers was installed on a water
tank in the center of town, with a second planned for the Steele Street water
tank in the Chaffin section of town near the Worcester line.
“Everything happened all at once. Sprint applied to the town to install
additional towers, the communications upgrade, and the Steele Street tank
developed a leak,” said Mr. Lipka.
The communication project has marked time while town officials have
negotiated with Sprint and structural engineers have studied the water tank.
However, the time has produced positive results, according to Mr. Lipka.
The town has struck a deal with Sprint under which the company will install
all needed equipment and cable for the new communication system. The company
also hired an expert in public safety equipment to provide advice on the
Sprint will also partially fund further study of the water tank to
determine whether it is sound enough to hold the equipment. The tank has been
drained and will no longer be used as a drinking water supply for the town.
“We wanted to make sure we negotiated with Sprint for a whole package. It
is just taking a lot of time, but, in the end, the town will have a better
deal,” Mr. Lipka said.
police radio upgrade set
Kennnebec Journal Story
PORTLAND — State troopers say their aging two-way radio
system is so unreliable and outdated that they cannot properly serve the public.
But they are about to get a fix. Public safety officials
plan to spend nearly $10 million to overhaul the 30-year-old system.
Over the next several years, they plan to switch from an
analog to a digital communications system, including laptop computers that
provide access to multiple databases.
The laptops, the first of which are expected this fall,
would allow troopers to retrieve information without a dispatcher, which would
help free up airwaves.
"This would be a huge step forward," said Col. Michael
Sperry, head of state police.
Troopers say the deteriorating radio system was causing
For instance, they said, a trooper looking into a hostage
situation couldn't talk to a dispatcher because of radio interference. Another
trooper couldn't summons a backup until several miles into a high-speed chase
because the radio channel was too busy.
"What's going on is a matter of life and death," said
Trooper Mike Edes, head of the 300-member Troopers Association. "That's how
serious this problem is and we need to fix it."
The funding for the new system will come from several
sources —and not all at once.
State lawmakers this year allocated about $730,000 for
the lease and eventual purchase of the laptops. They also promised $287,000 for
fiscal 2003 and agreed to allocate $1.7 million each fiscal year from 2004 to
2009, Sperry said.
Aid may also be coming from Congress. Sens. Olympia Snowe
and Susan Collins, heavily lobbied by Sperry and Edes, have had $2 million for
the project included in a proposed $41.49 billion spending bill for the
Departments of Commerce, Justice and State.
State police say the $2 million would help provide
immediate relief by allowing for upgrades to towers and equipment maintenance at
regional communication centers.
(Aeronautical Radio Inc) -- the company that provides communications services to
most major airports across the country has announced it's intention to
convert it's existing Trunked Radio Systems to
Motorola's IDEN Digital technology.
Newark Intl Airport is scheduled to be the first airport to be
Wireless Dispatch Service at Major Airports
May 21, 2001
Annapolis, Maryland, USA,—ARINC announced today that deployment of its
Wireless Dispatch Service has begun at major airports throughout North
America. It is scheduled to be available at the first airport,
International, by September 10, 2001. This new service, based on
and provided via ARINC's global data communications network, AviNet™, will
eventually replace an older analog-based technology or Trunked Radio
Service. The service supports mission-critical 'always-on' voice and data
dispatch operations at airport ramps, terminal buildings, and cargo
facilities to allow for the rapid deployment and data automation of airline,
airport, and other tenants' workforces.
The transition from the old analog service to the new Wireless Dispatch
Service provides airlines and airports with a flexible form of instant
uniform communication that affords six times the use of channels compared to
analog. As a very directed form of communication, the Wireless Dispatch
Service, when interconnected with ARINC's Wireless and Global Network
Services, provides a seamless link between air transport company operational
centers and the mobile workforce at various hub airports. This gives ARINC
customers the ability to provide data interchange between central flight
operations, the aircrew, and the ground crew regardless of their physical
location, whether in the air or on the ground. This gives airports the
capability to turn an airplane around at the gate in the minimum amount of
time while ensuring on-time departures and arrivals.
In launching this service, ARINC has extended its proven capabilities to
offer these mission-critical, wide-area, and mobile-campus services to
single or multiple campus-based industrial companies via a Virtual Private
Network offering. The offering is unique in that it provides a flat rate,
non-usage based service - a first for the mobile telecommunications
Typical customers for such a service are oil refineries, assembly plants,
and even theme parks where the campus-based customer possesses the dispatch
frequencies and already has a deployed analog trunking system, but wishes to
upgrade to Wireless Application Protocol (WAP) data capabilities as well as
greater voice capacity that translates to 6 to 1 over older technology.
For more information on ARINC's iDEN-based system and its capabilities or
to view a detailed service analysis, visit
ARINC Incorporated develops and operates communications and information
processing systems for the aviation and transportation industries and
provides systems engineering and integration solutions to the government and
the aviation industry. ARINC is ISO 9001 certified. Founded in 1929 to
provide reliable and efficient radio communications for the airlines, ARINC
is headquartered in Annapolis, Maryland, with over 3,000 employees