Approved: Paging Tower In Clifford Village

Yesterday evening the Clifford Village Council unanimously approved the construction of a fire/EMS paging tower on Village property and advised that construction could begin immediately.

radio_towerHowever, we still need to wait on several federal environmental studies to conclude in the next couple of weeks as well as FCC license modifications.

Motorola will begin ordering the steel and associated equipment for the site and electronics which shouldn’t take too long to come in.

This paging tower will bring much needed coverage to the northernmost portions of the county. We will have the antenna’s pointing in a directional pattern toward the south to cover Clifford, Burlington Township and parts of Rich and North Branch Township’s.

By increasing the coverage footprint in these area’s, the fire departments, medical first responders and Lapeer County EMS ambulances will better be able to receive their calls for service from dispatch. In turn they will be able to get a better response in terms of personnel and timeliness.

Shelter Move: North Branch to Columbiaville

Last week the shelter and generator that we have been using in North Branch since 1996 was lifted and moved to our new paging location in Columbiaville. We’ve moved away from the North Branch site to avoid paying continuing rental fees to American Tower Corporation. This site will also bring improved coverage to the Columbiaville and Otter Lake areas for EMS and fire paging.

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The next steps for the Columbiaville site are to bring electricity to the site, install the equipment and then provide connectivity back to the main system. At this time, it is undetermined how long it will take to get connectivity as we are still working out those details.

Below is an 18 minute video cut of the lifting and setting of the shelter and generator.

[youtube http://youtu.be/11hgB4QS9x0]

New Tornado App Brings American Red Cross Safety Information to Mobile Device

Audio alert feature can help save lives when users can’t monitor the weather

redcrossDETROIT, MI, March 5, 2013 — The American Red Cross has launched its official Tornado App, putting lifesaving information right in the hands of people who live in, visit or have loved ones in tornado-prone areas.

This free app—available in English or Spanish—gives iPhone, iPad and Android smart phone and tablet users instant access to local and real-time information, so t

hey know what to do before, during and after a tornado. The app includes a high-pitched siren and “tornado warning!” alert that signals people when a NOAA tornado warning has been issued in their area – even if the app is closed. An “all clear!” alert lets users know when a tornado warning has expired or has been cancelled.

“Tornadoes often happen in the overnight hours when people are sleeping,” said Glen Hendricks, Emergency Services Director, Southeastern Michigan Region. “The audible alerts in this app can save lives – even if users can’t monitor the weather because they are away from radio, TV or in places where weather band radios may not work.”

Other features of the app include:
• Location-based NOAA tornado, severe thunderstorm and flood watch and warning alerts;
• Enhanced weather maps;
• One-touch “I’m safe” messaging that allows users to broadcast reassurance to family and friends that they are out of harm’s way;
• Simple steps and checklists people can use to create an emergency plan and share it with household members;
• Preloaded content that gives users instant access to critical action steps, even without mobile connectivity;
• Toolkit with flashlight, strobe light and audible alarm;
• Locations of open Red Cross shelters; and
• Badges users can earn through interactive quizzes and share on social networks.

Launched during National Severe Weather Preparedness Week, the Tornado App is the latest in a series of mobile apps created by the Red Cross, the nation’s leader in emergency preparedness. The apps have been used to help save lives during hurricanes, earthquakes and wildfires.

“The Red Cross has made great strides in putting vital information in the hands of people who need it during emergencies. In fact, our apps are now on more than two million mobile devices across the country,” added Hendricks.

Mobile activity soared due to Superstorm Sandy:
• More than 400,000 people downloaded the Red Cross Hurricane App;
• Nearly 6 million NOAA weather alerts were sent;
• Preparedness content was the most popular feature of the app followed by alerts and the shelter locator;
• The average time spent using the app increased 300 percent; and
• The app had 15 million page views.

Right after the storm, the Hurricane App was updated with real-time recovery information including Red Cross shelter and feeding sites, FEMA sites, open gas stations and warming centers to help those affected by the storm.

The Tornado App, along with the others, can be found in the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store for Android by searching for American Red Cross or by going to redcross.org/mobileapps. Apps can help prepare people for disasters, but they are not a substitute for training. Red Cross First Aid and CPR/AED training empowers people to know how to respond to emergencies in case advanced medical help is delayed. People can visit redcross.org/takeaclass for course information and to register.

The Red Cross responds to nearly 70,000 disasters each year and we help people get ready to respond to emergencies by providing these apps for free. The Red Cross needs the help of the public to continue this lifesaving effort. People can make a donation to the Red Cross by going to redcross.org, texting REDCROSS to 90999 or by calling 1-800-REDCROSS

Available_on_the_App_Store

About the American Red Cross:
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation’s blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit redcross.org or join our blog at blog.redcross.org.

FCC Approves VHF Paging License

This week the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) approved our amended license for VHF paging for fire and EMS service paging.FCC-logo

LCCD and Motorola are looking to start up the new system and narrow-band the 500+ pagers in the next several weeks.

LCCD would also like to thank the FCC, Industry Canada and Congresswoman Miller’s office for their efforts and work on the license.

Lapeer County Switches to Digital

logoAfter several years of work, Lapeer County Central Dispatch switched from an analog radio system to a digital radio system at 12:05pm on December 18, 2012.

We have doubled the amount of radio towers we use from three to six. We now have sites in Almont Village, Metamora Village, Imlay City, Lapeer City, Burnside Township and Deerfield Township. We absorbed the State of Michigan’s Deerfield site into our simulcast as part of the project.

The analog system had ten frequencies and two of them were dedicated for data usage while the remaining eight were left for voice channels in the trunking system. The new digital system now has fourteen frequencies allotted for voice. Data is no longer used since we changed to a cellular configuration earlier in the year for police in-car computers.

Also, the analog system had a total of 72 talkgroups and through some changes in setups, the digital system has a total of 74 talkgroups available to the various Lapeer County users plus a plethora of neighboring county and state talkgroups.

Lapeer County users are among the first in the state to be ready and capable of utilizing 700MHz frequencies should they become available in the area. Our radios are already programmed for it which means if that time comes, we shouldn’t have to make a fleet-wide change to accommodate it.

We contracted with Motorola Solutions for 95% county-wide coverage on a 3-watt portable radio. Due to FAA regulations at the Metamora site, we had to reduce the tower height by 80 feet which put our coverage projections to 94.96% coverage. Once we completed actual coverage tests earlier this month, we ended up with an amazing 99.89% coverage throughout the county. That includes attenuating the test radios at -15db to simulate in-building coverage in the city/village areas of the county. The rest of the county had the test radio set to be attenuated at -6db to simulate vegetation on the trees.

On the day of the system cut-over, at about 9:00am we began processes of shutting down half of the analog system, moving feed lines and other things at the MPSCS Deerfield site and then turning on half of the channels in the new system. Then the MPSCS began enabling all of our new talkgroups on our towers and surrounding towers. By about 10:30am we began moving users over to the digital system. Once roll call radio checks and pager tests were complete, we finished the cut-over process by turning off the remaining channels of the analog system and turned on the remaining channels in the new system. By 12:05pm the analog system was completely shutdown and all users were operating on the new system.

We are still operating on our old paging system due to licensing issues with the FCC and Canadian Coordination for our VHF frequency. The FCC has granted us a time waiver for the narrowbanding requirement that we must meet. The old paging system is incapable of being narrowbanded. Once we get a license for the new paging system and turn it on, we will be in compliance as that system is already narrowbanded to 12.5KHz.

Coverage Testing Complete

photoThis week two teams from Lapeer County and Motorola Solutions drove every eight-tenths of a mile doing radio checks back to dispatch to measure the level of coverage with the new radio system. There were over 1,000 grid squares to cover. They used only 3-watt portable radios (APX 6000) attenuated to -6db for the majority of the test and then used a radio attenuated to -15db inside the city areas of the county to simulate transmitting from inside a building.

It took the two teams three days to complete the testing, traveling at an average speed of 40 mph. Many times, they had to circle around grid squares to find a way inside another grid square to perform a radio check.

The system was set up with two channels on a specific MPSCS talkgroup enabled only on our six sites for the test. No other towers were utilized outside of the county for the test. We needed to be sure that only our sites were being tested.

The results of the test were phenomenal and exceeded our expectations in several areas of the county where the analog system fails consistently. Areas where a 35-watt mobile radio cannot function on the analog system, a 3-watt portable radio on the digital system was successfully able to operate. The new digital system performed exceptionally well.

Do you have an iPad? LCCD has a Special iPad format.

If you have an iPad, you can view our website in a special format designed just for it. If you prefer the regular site, you can scroll down to the bottom and tap ‘View Standard Site’. You can also tap the arrow button in Safari next to the URL bar and select ‘Add to Home Screen’ to create a bookmark right to the site.