All posts by lapeer911

What are other counties using?

As Lapeer County seeks to make a move to join the MPSCS, several of our neighbor’s have already made the move.

Macomb, St. Clair, Saginaw, Shiawassee & Genesee Counties have already migrated to the MPSCS leaving behind their antiquated analog systems. Bay County is in the process of making the switch to the MPSCS while Tuscola, Sanilac and Huron Counties are seeking to move to the MPSCS just as Lapeer County is.

Oakland County started to build their own digital radio system in 2002 and due to the many PSAPs in the county and the original company they hired to build their system being bought out a couple of times, the system is not yet fully online.

Just as cell phones and television have changed to digital so are the commercial manufacturers of public safety radio systems. Even broadcast radio is starting to change to digital with the option of HD radio.

As mentioned in another post, the need for the radio system isn’t a matter of “going digital,” but rather “in need of replacement.” A digital system is just what is available on the market now.

As certain components are no longer supported by the manufacturer, parts will be difficult at times to come by. Those parts that can be found aren’t new parts; they’re used and not even refurbished in many cases. Lapeer County received several vehicle radio modems from Saginaw County for free recently and they are older models than the ones Lapeer is using. Because they’re older than our system, we’ve secured a grant to purchase a firmware upgrade to bring them to the version we’re using. Once that is finished, we’ll test the VRM’s to see which ones will work and which ones won’t. The working ones will be handed over to departments in Lapeer County that have need of them.

As the need for parts comes along, the more that ends up breaking down, the more out of pocket expenses we’ll incur. There will come a point that the system will start to “nickel & dime us to death.”

It has been said that 95% of 9-1-1 centers are analog based. While that is likely true, those analog systems are getting very old just as Lapeer County’s is. When those centers go to replace their analog systems, they will be purchasing a digital one.

Digital System or Replacement System?

There is a lot of concern that the bid for a new system at Lapeer County 9-1-1 was for the purpose of going digital. This is not the case at all. Digital is quite irrelevant in the matter as the need is for a replacement radio system. A digital system was chosen for two reasons. Number 1, no manufacturer builds analog public safety systems anymore. Number 2, the MPSCS was chosen as the most economical and safe choice and it just happens to be a digital system.

The MPSCS is a state-wide public safety radio system in Michigan and serves over 50,000 users. The level of interoperability provided by this system is unmatched world-wide. It only makes sense to join the system to have that level of interoperability available. As our society becomes less localized and more regional, we need to be able to communicate with our neighboring counties as we often send our responders outside our county to assist other agencies in major events.

The current 14 year old radio system is now beyond it’s anticipated life expectancy and the major component systems of it are no longer being supported by the manufacturer. If these components break down, the manufacturer cannot guarantee that new parts will be available. If the parts happen to be available, they are not covered under the maintenance contract and the cost of the parts will be “out of pocket”. If the manufacturer doesn’t have the parts available, Lapeer County 9-1-1 must search for third-party companies who sell the parts as used/refurbished.

2010 Election Campaign

Lapeer County 9-1-1 will be campaigning throughout 2010 leading up to the November general election in an effort to secure voter approval for a replacement of it’s radio system and other antiquated systems.

These systems are critical to the operation of public safety in Lapeer County. They are life-lines for the citizens and for law enforcement, fire service and EMS personnel. On average Lapeer County 9-1-1 handles over 112,000 emergency and non-emergency calls for service annually.

This blog will be utilized to assist in disseminating information to the public about the critical need for continued operations and replacement needs.