by Jen Kohl
Campbell County Judge Executive Steve Pendery released statements last month about the need for a regional project to upgrade Northern Kentucky’s public safety radio system.
He explained the reasons why the project is needed in our region and said that Campbell County is working with Boone and Kenton Counties to design and build a new infrastructure.
Campbell County's current public safety radio system consists of an analog system put in place in 1968, which is equivalent to WWII technology. This technology has lead to poor coverage in parts of the county. Fire and EMS have to use one channel while police are on a different one. The two can not talk to one another or talk to agencies outside our county. Pendery described the system as the old “party line” telephone where only one person can talk at a time on a particular line.
According to Pendery, the counties are now in the same place with our radio systems that private citizens were in when we all had to upgrade our old TVs from analog to digital ta few years ago. He says our analog systems have reached the end of their useful lives and are no longer being supported.
"We have gone overboard to squeeze every year of service out of the systems that we could, but now that it is time to replace them, we would be foolish not to convert to a new, much more capable technology. The best solution financially and operationally is a digital system, otherwise known as P25 800Megahertz (800MHz) Digital Public Safety Radio," Pendery said.
The 800MHz radio systems were implemented in Cincinnati and Hamilton County nearly 20 years ago and, since then, across all of Ohio and Indiana and in various Kentucky communities.
Pendery says the all-digital system will allow police and fire personnel to talk to one another and have multiple conversations at once.
"Our ability to communicate and respond effectively during disasters or big events will be significantly improved because we will be able to talk to other jurisdictions via radio for the first time," Pendery said.
Designing a system that all can use will eliminate duplication of radio towers and save tax dollars.
Pendery also said this is not a consolidation of the three counties’ dispatch operations but a three-county project "to jointly design, procure, build, and maintain the core of a public safety radio system."
The project is set to be underway next summer and then launch the new system in late 2018.
Costs can not be determined until proposals come in. However, Campbell County will be responsible for 27.8% of the project’s shared infrastructure costs, based on population, land area and other factors.
"Where public safety radio systems are concerned, we are moving into the 21st century at last," Pendery added.